by June Friesen,
Universal Children’s Day is to bring awareness for all children worldwide to have a right to education in a safe and comfortable environment.
When I think of children and how one can honor them, I am reminded of something someone told me when my first child was born. It was about respect and how even a baby deserves respect. You may react, but that doesn’t even matter to the baby. May I give you an example? Most of the first few weeks of a baby’s life are spent eating and sleeping. To show a baby respect one should respect the baby’s sleeping and feeding schedule even if it may be a bit different than you would choose. One thing I was taught and appreciated was to let a baby sleep even when there were visitors, even if the visitors wanted to hold the baby. If they wanted to see the child, let them observe them sleeping if they were sleeping. Yes, preparing a child for a more healthy life begins in the home environment. And then when the child moves outside the home environment there should also be that space where they can feel safe whether that is in the school and/or public setting. Jesus encouraged the people when they were around Him to allow the children to be a part of the gathering as well. And when the children wanted to go and sit with Him or stand beside Him He welcomed the opportunity to include them. Luke’s gospel records Jesus’ response in one situation:
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
Yes, Jesus invited the children to be included in His surroundings. Another place where it talks about the children is in the march into Jerusalem at the Passover time just before Jesus’ crucifixion. It tells us that the children were singing and waving palm branches.
As I did some research on the meaning and purpose of this day, I found that we are encouraged to spend positive time with our children and especially to spend time in the outdoors and in nature. It is a time to encourage appreciation for God’s wonderful gifts in nature and even help in understanding how important many elements of nature are to our lives. It can be an opportunity to possibly even plant some plants and/or garden; or maybe harvest some fruits, go fishing or just take a nature exploration/education hike.
It could be a time for a family/church/school picnic or potluck with a focus on the children. There could be crafts, movies, storytime, all with the opportunity of building wholesome identity and relationships. Make it a time that is all about the children being appreciated and respected as individuals. Maybe an appropriate ending would be a time of blessing for each child present which could be done in several ways verbally, a specially chosen gift (can even be homemade), a prayer, etc.
May I encourage us to embrace the children around us today. The children in our family, the children in our neighborhood, the children in our churches, the children in our schools, the children we know as well as the children we do not know, the children in our own country as well as the children in all the other countries of the world….. Prayer is another way that we can make a difference whether it is praying for someone we know or someone we may not know except by name or even unnamed.
The future is a gift – it is a gift that has been given to you and to me by those who have gone before us. It is now a gift for you and I to hold carefully and pass on to the children coming after us. May it be a gift well cared for by us so that our children will also learn to care for it well and have the opportunity to also pass it on to the generations to come.
TO EMBRACE AND BUILD THE WONDER OF A CHILD
God, you gifted the world with children
Children filled with wonder, curiosity, sensitivity, and gifts,
You placed them in our care to love, to teach and to lead,
To nurture, to protect and do our best to meet their needs.
God, you desire that all children worldwide be cared for and loved,
Children of different colors, with different languages, and different cultures,
Different understandings of who You are, yet desiring a relationship with You,
So that they may find purpose and security in their lives as they grow.
God, sometimes as adults we forget what it was like to be a child,
We tend to get so focused on the future of the child/children
We neglect the present need(s) and desires,
And miss the opportunities You give us to prepare them for their place in the world.
Today as I listen to their questions and observations
So innocently spoken to anyone, everyone or to no one in particular
May I too be able to see the world around me with the eyes of a child,
Let me behold with wonder the hopping of a frog, the sniff of a puppy,
The purr of a kitten, the sweet smell of a rose, the freshness of cold water,
The delight of a puddle to step in, the ouch of a sharp thorn,
Yet in it all realize that it is for a moment and then it is on to another moment.
God, what a wonderful creation you blessed the world with–children so innocent and pure; entrusting them into the care of adults for protection and nurture until they are grown. May we be found faithful in caring for them while we truly see the gift they are to us every day, even in the troublesome spots. Thank you, God, for the wonderful gift of children. Amen.
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