Thankfulness and optimism are not the same thing. Thanksgiving Day in America gives us the opportunity to think about the differences, and to remember the deep significance of thankfulness in God’s economy.
I wrote a book on pastoral care released in 2018 by Fortress Press. One of the people I interviewed talked about the difference between optimism and thankfulness. The context of the interview was a chapter on coping with stress. Caregivers in any context need to know how to deal with their own stress, and they also need to help care recipients cope with stress better. Research shows that optimism helps people survive stress better, because how we think about the things that are happening to us makes a difference.
My interviewee, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, said that optimism can be overemphasized when talking about stress. When we focus on optimism too much, she said, we can slide into denial, which is the refusal to admit the truth or reality of something. She said thankfulness can bring about the same good results as optimism in many difficult situations, but without any denial.
How does this work?
Thankfulness is a choice to focus our eyes on good gifts. Those gifts might come from the people around us – a stimulating conversation, an act of kindness, direct help that meets a need, an encouraging word, a doctor or other professional who gives help we need, or many other specific gifts, big or small, from people in our lives.
Thankfulness also enables us to see God’s good gifts that come directly to us – an answer to a prayer, a situation that works out well despite the odds, inner strength to do something difficult, or peace that passes all understanding. Thankfulness also helps us notice the good gifts in the physical world God created – a delicious meal, the clear eyes of a child, colorful fall leaves and beautiful spring flowers, a vivid sunset, dramatic mountains, and towering clouds.
When we focus on the good gifts that are present in our lives, we do not deny the reality of pain, stress and challenges. Thankfulness involves turning our eyes to see good things even in the midst of those difficulties, and we take a moment to thank the giver of the gift.
Thankfulness nurtures relationship. David Steindl-Rast, in his beautiful book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, writes, “When I acknowledge a gift received, I acknowledge a bond that binds me to the giver. . . . The one who says ‘thank you’ to another really says, ‘We belong together.’ Giver and thanksgiver belong together.” 
Steindl-Rast wonders if our society suffers so much from alienation because we are reluctant to offer thanks. I agree with him. It seems clear that our friendships and family relationships suffer when we feel uneasy acknowledging bonds with other people, when we hold back from expressing gratitude.
Steindl-Rast points out that everything is a gift, yet we find it hard to acknowledge gifts because we don’t like to admit our dependence. Thankfulness involves acknowledging that we belong with others and with God, and that we depend on the people around us and on God. We are not alone. We are not self-sufficient. We cannot navigate life on our own.
In contrast, when we feel pressure to be optimistic, we often feel we have to generate positivity within ourselves. Optimism can be quite individualistic, while thankfulness nurtures community.
Colossians 2:14-17 gives great advice for living in a challenging, stressful world. Note how thankfulness is woven into these words:
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Paying attention to the good gifts in our lives is a choice that lays a foundation for joy and nurtures joy. May Thanksgiving Day give you the opportunity to notice many good gifts in your life, and may you continue to notice those gifts as Christmas approaches.
 David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 15-17.
COMING SOON! Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflectionthat will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
It’s Thanksgiving week here in America and we are looking forward to sharing the day with our small Mustard Seed House community and following it up with another celebration with friends the following day. There are some aspects of Thanksgiving that I love. It reminds me of my need to be thankful for the many gifts that God has bestowed on me both physically and spiritually. All of us need to take time to thank God regularly for the wonder of who our Creator has made us to be and Thanksgiving certainly motivates those feelings. However it’s important to realize that for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed. We need to balance our thanksgiving celebration and our gratefulness to God with an acknowledgement of these realities and prayerfully consider how we might respond. I am delighted to see that Randy Woodley has just published another children’s book The Harmony Tree: Spared by Fire. It deals with Indigenous and Settler relations, empowers women and addresses the wildfire issue. I just ordered my copy.
In my Meditation Monday: Circling through Advent this week I combined my celebration of giving thanks with my focus on Celtic Advent. I am amazed at how energizing and sustaining this practice is. Each morning I read one of my circling prayers, and this week, as I describe in the Monday Meditation, I created a circle from my collection of rocks and considered what I wanted inside and out the circle of God’s presence. I keep making and remaking it, using it to remind myself of what I want to see more of in my life and our world as I sit in the centre of God’s encircling presence and what I want to see excluded from that circle, a circle that encompasses the whole world.
Lilly Lewin is also off to an early start with Advent with her Freerange Friday: You Are Invited to Start Advent Early. I love her question “What is Jesus inviting you to this Advent season? And hope that you will take time to both read her post and consider her question.
Yesterday was also Universal Children’s Day and we posted two beautiful articles in the last week to commemorate. Alex Tang’s Embracing the Children – A Journey of Faith and Hope “the central takeaway is the importance of actively incorporating Jesus’ command to “let the little children come unto me” into our daily lives, especially in the modern context fraught with unique challenges. It calls for a deep commitment to nurturing children’s spiritual growth amidst the complexities of today’s world, including the pervasive influence of social media and technology.”
In her post For Every Child, Every Right, Kathie Hempel reminded us of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child and encouraged us to understand these rights and not hinder but support the fulfillment of them throughout the world. It is a very important post.
On Wednesday in her post Celtic Advent Begins and Seasonal Resources, Melissa reminded us of all the wonderful resources – both free and for purchase, that Godspace has available for the season. I hope you will check out these resources and take advantage of all we have to offer. And don’t forget our Advent Quiet Day on December 9th. Quiet days are so important during this season of frenetic activity and consumer hype and I hope you will join us for the day.
I started reading Drew Jackson’s “God Speaks Through Wombs: Poems on God’s Unexpected Coming” this week. What a powerful collection of poems to read during this season. Let me close with one that seems particularly appropriate this week:
Theophilus (Lover of God)
Luke 1: 1-4
Told by those
Lovers of Adonai
From the underside.
From the mouths
Of the disempowered
To the ground
By imperial power.
May God make us all truly thankful during this season
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Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflectionthat will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
by Christine Sine
This week as I settle into Celtic Advent, I find myself settling too into the circling prayers I both use and create. I cannot describe the depth of comfort and sustenance that they bring me. The sense of God’s encircling presence and protection is profound. And I am not just talking about physical sustenance and protection here. I sense God encircling my mind and my heart embracing me with divine light and presence.
I hunted through my collection of circling prayers and prayer exercises, but in the end decided to write a new prayer for this week that both fitted the exercise I used over the weekend and the fact that Thursday is American Thanksgiving. I will use it each morning as I light my candles and pray:
Thank you God Almighty,
For your light that circles us,
When all seems dark and we are in despair.
Thank you God our Creator,
For your love that circles us,
When our world seems full of violence and hatred.
Thank you God our Comforter,
For your presence that circles us,
When we feel lost and alone.
Thank you God for you.
(c) Christine Sine 2023
I also came across the following exercise I created several years ago, that I found particularly nourishing over the weekend. I invite you to try it. It is an invitation to move our circles from the imaginary to the real and I think we all need the type of boundaries and strength that the Celtic circle and circling prayers it inspired, provide. You might also like to check out this circling prayer exercise based on a traditional Celtic CAIM or circling prayer.
I pulled out a piece of construction paper and some of my rock collection and made a circle. This time I also grabbed some of my heart rocks to incorporate in the circle, reminding myself that God’s love is the foundation of the circle of God’s presence that surrounds all of us.
I sat for several minutes contemplating my circle and reminding myself of all the attributes of God I wanted that circle to embrace. I wrote those around the inside, added the words circle us God, at the top and Circle us with your presence at the bottom. As I did so, I envisioned that enfolding cloak of God around me. Then, outside the circle, I wrote some of the characteristics that seem so much a part of our broken world, that I think are excluded from God’s enfolding cloak. It was very comforting and strengthening.I sat for a few more minutes with my eyes closed and envisioned God’s circle in my mind. I decided to add another heart shaped rock to the centre. God’s loving heart is at the centre of my circle. God’s loving heart is where life and light, hope and joy abide and they radiate from throughout our world.
The finished “work of art” sits on my desk as a reminder of God’s embracing presence. It is a wonderful way for me to recentre my soul and my spirit each morning. It inspired the creation of the prayer above and I suspect will inspire other creations in the future.
When I first posted a meditation on circling prayers some years ago, I received several responses from people who were inspired to use their own creative medium to respond. Wonderful colorful doodles, heart shaped designs of shells and rocks and artwork. I invite you also to respond in the way that seems most appropriate for you. What is the creative activity that most inspires you? Perhaps you like to doodle, or knit, or paint. Or you might prefer to garden, or go running or draw on a sandy beach. Or perhaps you like to sing or compose music. All of these creative exercises can be used to craft images that reflect the encircling embrace of God. And please do send us photos we would love to see what you create.
Gather your materials. Sit quietly for a few moments with your eyes closed. Listen to the video below. Repeat the words circle me God Almighty, aloud several times. Draw an imaginary circle and picture God enfolding you in a cloak.
What images come to mind? Express those with your creative gifts.
by Alex Tang
In modern life’s relentless and often chaotic pace, we are frequently caught up in our immediate concerns and ambitions, sometimes missing the profound lessons hidden in simple truths. Among these is a powerful directive from Jesus Christ, as captured in the Gospel of Mark: “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14). At first glance, these words might seem straightforward, merely highlighting Jesus’ affection for children. However, upon closer reflection, they reveal layers of spiritual insight and a radical call to action that resonates deeply with our contemporary context.
By examining the context and deeper meaning behind Jesus’ words, we are encouraged to reflect on how we, as individuals and communities, welcome and value the innocence, curiosity, and faith of children in our midst. It is a call to embrace humility, foster purity of heart, and recognise the Kingdom of God in the simplicity and trustfulness of a child’s perspective.
Understanding the Command
In Mark 10:13-16, we are presented with a poignant and revealing episode in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The disciples, perhaps with good intentions, attempt to prevent children from approaching Jesus, likely viewing them as a distraction or too insignificant for the attention of a spiritual leader. However, Jesus’ response to this situation is both immediate and profound. He rebukes His disciples for their actions, signalling a radical departure from the cultural norms of the time. In the ancient world, children were often seen as less important, their voices and presence overshadowed by adult concerns and pursuits. But Jesus disrupts this societal pattern with His command: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”
These words from Jesus are far more than a gentle invitation; they are a powerful mandate that places children at the centre of His ministry. By doing so, Jesus is advocating for the inclusion of children and redefining the value system of the religious and social order. He recognises and elevates children’s intrinsic worth, purity, and spiritual capacity, challenging the prevailing attitudes of His time.
Moreover, Jesus uses this moment to teach a profound spiritual truth. When He insists that the Kingdom of God belongs to such children (Mark 10:14), He emphasises that the qualities often found in children—such as trust, innocence, and humility—are essential for anyone seeking to enter the Kingdom. In saying that one must receive the Kingdom of God like a child (Mark 10:15), Jesus speaks not just of physical age but also of a state of heart and mind. This child-like receptivity is characterised by a willingness to believe without cynicism, to trust without suspicion, and to embrace the Kingdom with a heart unburdened by pride or pretence.
In this context, Jesus is not only highlighting the significance of children in the Kingdom but also calling His followers to a different kind of spiritual posture—one that values simplicity over complexity, humility over arrogance, and trustful faith over sceptical rationality. He invites His followers, then and now, to discipleship that embraces these child-like qualities as central to a life of faith and as vital to understanding the nature of God’s Kingdom. In this light, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” becomes a transformative command that can reshape our approach to faith, spirituality, and community life.
Living the Command
Living out Jesus’ command in today’s context, particularly in recognising and nurturing children’s spiritual potential, extends beyond the peaceful confines of our homes and churches. It demands active engagement even in the most challenging circumstances, such as during disasters and wars. In these situations, the command to let children come to Him takes on a poignant urgency as these young lives face threats that can deeply impact their physical safety and spiritual well-being.
In homes, integrating faith into daily life, as advised in Deuteronomy 6:7, becomes a grounding force. Amidst turmoil, the consistent conversation about God’s commandments provides children with a sense of stability and hope. This ongoing dialogue, whether in moments of peace or times of crisis, helps embed spiritual values deeply, making faith a comforting and guiding presence.
Churches and faith communities, in this context, have a crucial role. They should be sanctuaries where children find safety, support, and a sense of normalcy in turbulent times. Faith communities can offer practical support, such as resources, safe spaces, and emotional and spiritual care, helping children process their experiences in light of God’s enduring love and care.
The responsibility also extends to protecting children in times of disaster and conflict. Children are also vulnerable to physical and emotional abuse in their families or communities. They are prey to sexual predators that stalk the neighbourhoods and troll the internet. This means advocating for their safety, providing for their immediate needs, and ensuring they are not forgotten or neglected. It involves speaking out against injustices that endanger children and actively participating in or supporting relief efforts that prioritise their well-being. In doing so, we follow Christ’s example of compassion and care for the most vulnerable.
Furthermore, embodying child-like qualities in our faith journey—humility, simplicity, and trust—becomes even more crucial in these challenging situations. Our spiritual maturity is tested and refined as we seek to protect and nurture children in distress. We are called to trust in God’s providence and approach these daunting challenges with a heart full of faith and hope, qualities children often display even in the most challenging times.
To live Jesus’ command fully, therefore, is to adopt a holistic approach that not only nurtures and values children in times of peace but also actively protects and supports them in times of crisis. It is about creating environments where children feel valued, safe, and spiritually nourished regardless of the circumstances. This approach not only honours Jesus’ directive but also contributes significantly to the resilience and spiritual growth of the younger generation, shaping a future where the values of the Kingdom of God are vividly reflected.
Challenges and Solutions
In today’s digital era, adhering to Jesus’ command to let children come to Him faces additional complexities due to the pervasive influence of social media and technology. The digital landscape, while offering numerous benefits, also presents significant risks to children’s innocence and spiritual development. Exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and the development of an instant gratification mindset are just a few of the challenges that children encounter in the online world. These technological distractions can overshadow the fundamental teachings of faith and dilute the spiritual messages we strive to impart.
For parents and guardians, who are called in Ephesians 6:4 to be the primary spiritual educators of their children, navigating this digital terrain requires a nuanced approach. It’s essential to establish healthy boundaries and guidelines around the use of technology. This might include setting limits on screen time, monitoring online activities, and engaging in open discussions about the content they encounter online. Parents can guide children in using technology to align with Christian values, such as using digital platforms for learning, creativity, and positive communication.
Churches and faith communities can also play a supportive role in addressing the challenges posed by social media and technology. They can offer workshops or seminars for both parents and children on responsible technology use from a Christian perspective. These programs can cover topics such as online safety, discerning digital content, and maintaining a balanced life in a technology-driven world. Additionally, churches can leverage technology positively by creating online forums for spiritual discussion, offering digital resources for faith development, and using social media to connect with and engage young believers.
Moreover, the broader challenge involves creating a societal environment that understands and mitigates the risks associated with technology. Advocacy for safe and age-appropriate online content and support for policies protecting children’s online privacy and security is crucial. Communities can foster initiatives that promote outdoor activities, community service, and face-to-face interactions, which provide healthy alternatives to excessive screen time.
A collaborative, multi-faceted effort is needed to effectively manage the impact of social media and technology on children’s spiritual growth. Families, churches, and communities must work together to create a balanced approach that embraces the benefits of technology while safeguarding against its risks. By doing so, we not only adhere to Jesus’ command to let children come to Him but also equip the younger generation to navigate the digital world with wisdom, discernment, and a strong foundation of faith. This approach ensures that children grow into spiritually mature individuals capable of using technology for positive influence and Christian witness in the modern world.
The central takeaway is the importance of actively incorporating Jesus’ command to “let the little children come unto me” into our daily lives, especially in the modern context fraught with unique challenges. It calls for a deep commitment to nurturing children’s spiritual growth amidst the complexities of today’s world, including the pervasive influence of social media and technology. This involves protecting their innocence, guiding their faith journey and embracing and exemplifying child-like qualities of humility, trust, and simplicity in our spiritual lives.
As parents, guardians, and members of faith communities, we are reminded of our significant role in shaping the spiritual environment for the younger generation. We are called to be diligent in teaching God’s commandments, proactive in creating safe and nurturing spaces, and wise in navigating the digital landscape. The takeaway encourages a collective effort to foster a balanced approach that acknowledges the benefits of technology while safeguarding against its risks, ensuring that children grow in faith and character.
Ultimately, the message is one of hope and responsibility. By embracing this command of Christ and applying it in our contemporary context, we are not just obeying a biblical injunction but also investing in a future where the values of the Kingdom of God are vividly lived out and witnessed. This commitment paves the way for a generation of young believers who are spiritually equipped, morally grounded, and prepared to face life’s challenges with resilience and a deep sense of purpose.
Dear Lord, help us to heed Your call to welcome and nurture children in faith. Grant us the wisdom to guide them and the humility to learn from their simple trust. May our actions reflect Your love and lead the young ones closer to Your heart. Amen.
Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
This is the first week of Celtic Advent. I have started Advent early for several years. I find it helps me baby step into the season and slows down the crazy pace of the holidays. The Celtic and Orthodox Christians honor the 40 days before Christmas as the Season of Advent. Like the 40 days of Lent, it’s a time of preparation, getting our hearts ready for the arrival of Jesus.
What do you notice about yourself as you enter the Advent season this year?
How are you feeling? Excited, Exhausted, blah, grateful, expectant, numb, something else or a combination of things? I feel like we are all running on emotional fumes these days. I realized that thanks to Covid, I’ve lost a lot of holiday rhythms. I’m out of practice when it comes to hospitality and participating in gatherings and special events. I am thinking through just what will bring me joy and draw me closer to Jesus this Season of Advent.
Talk to Jesus about where you are and where you’ d like to be by Christmas.
LIGHT A CANDLE and read PSALM 27 and then read or listen to JOHN 1:1-14 in different translations.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
JOHN 1 : 1-14 THE FIRST NATIONS BIBLE
Long ago, in the time before all days, before the creation of all things, the one who is known as the Word was there face to face with the Great Spirit. This Word fully represents Creator and shows us who he is and what he is like. He has always been there from the beginning, for the Word and Creator are one and the same. 3Through the Word all things came into being, and not one thing exists that he did not create.
4Creator’s life shined out from the Word, giving light to all human beings. This is the true Light that comes to all the peoples of the world and shines on everyone. 5The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it or put it out.
6-7Into the wilderness of the Land of Promise (Judea) came a man named Gift of Goodwill (John). He was sent by the Great Spirit to tell what he knew about the Light so everyone could believe. 8He was not the Light but came to speak the truth about the Light. 9The true Light that shines on all people was coming into the darkness of this world.
10He came down into this world, and even though he made all things, the world did not recognize him. 11Even his own tribe did not welcome or honor him. 12But all who welcome and trust him receive their birthright as children of the Great Spirit. 13They are born in a new way, not from a human father’s plans or desires, but born from above—by the Great Spirit.
14Creator’s Word became a flesh-and-blood human being and pitched his sacred tent among us, living as one of us. We looked upon his great beauty and saw how honorable he was, the kind of honor held only by this one Son who fully represents his Father—full of his great kindness and truth.
JOHN 1 : 1-14 THE MESSAGE
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.
14 The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
What is the Holy Spirit highlighting for you today?
What do you notice about these passages that you haven’t noticed before?
What do you notice about the Light?
What is your INVITATION this Advent Season?
Find a Christmas card or a blank card ….you might want to create your own card with art supplies or collage. As you look at your card ask Jesus what he is inviting you to this Advent Season.
What is Jesus inviting you to be about? What are you being invited to notice, about yourself, about the season, about your relationship with Jesus? Keep that card/invitation our on your desk or in your journal or Bible. Somewhere you will see it daily to remind you accept the invitation to the Birth of Jesus this year!
What symbol or person from the Christmas story resonates with you? LIGHT, MANGER, TREASURE MAP, STAR, CANDLES, DOORS, ANGELS, SHEPHERDS, MARY, SIMEON? Something else? Ask Jesus to highlight a symbol for you…watch for this invitation
To help you with your Advent practice, here’s a lovely Celtic Advent Calendar the whole family can use. The Calendar was created by Susan Forshey at ContemplativeCottage.com.
LISTEN TO THESE TWO SONGS:
Lord God, Calm us as we wait for the Gift of Jesus.
Cleanse us so we can prepare the way for his arrival.
Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Help us to be present to the gift of interruptions. Help us to see your LIGHT in new ways.
Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us.
Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit.
Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom.
Today and Always. AMEN.
(adapted from Ray Simpson of Lindesfarne)
If you are looking for a way to engage God with all your senses this ADVENT, this Sacred Space prayer experience is a series of prayer stations you can set up with your church community and invite your friends to come and pray the stations. WAITING SACRED SPACE
When pondering the UN’s theme for this year’s Universal/World Children’s Day, I came up with one, not so profound, question. What rights? Exactly? Given the theme of For Every Child, Every Right, I thought that we should all know them. So not wanting to be lazy, but to be precise, here are those 10 rights as set in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child with their full text.
The child shall enjoy all the rights outlined in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
The child shall enjoy special protection and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation, and medical services.
The child who is physically, mentally, or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education, and care required by his particular condition.
The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education that will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgment, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.
The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.
The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right.
The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty, and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental, or moral development.
The child shall be protected from practices that may foster racial, religious, and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace, and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt 19:14 (NIV)
May we all understand these rights and not hinder but support the fulfillment of them throughout the world. We have, as Robert Frost said in his poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, miles to go before we sleep and miles to go before we sleep.
Dear Father, Bless all children and show us how we might help in any way to protect them as you would. May we never turn our back when we see injustice toward them. May we support others who struggle to care for them and give of our plenty to children in need wherever they are found. Amen.
On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
Celtic Advent starts today – may this be a season of blessing, anticipation, and preparation for you. Godspace has been gathering resources to help ground our spiritual practices in creativity, hope, and faithful attention to the Divine surrounding us and our lives. In these busy holiday times it is especially important to take time to prepare ourselves for spiritual growth. There are liturgies, prayers, practices, and perspectives on the season.
We have a whole page of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and New Year resources gathered over the years. This includes a large selection of resources specifically for Celtic Advent. My favourite is the Celtic cards which I use throughout the first few weeks of Advent. They also make great Christmas gifts. One of our most popular store items right now is a bundle of Advent items – Christine’s Advent book, Lean Towards the Light, a journal to go with it and Advent prayer cards. Along with spiritual practice resources we also have some fun resources for the session – Advent in a Jar and Color through Advent.
We also have a list of seasonal resources for gratitude, harvest, and Thanksgiving. In particular we have a list of Thanksgiving prayer resources and one of Christine’s favorite Thanksgiving prayers. We also have a list of harvest prayers and resources from 2015. Back during quarantine Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin recorded a wonderful virtual retreat for the Thanksgiving season which is still available online: Gearing Up for a Season of Gratitude.
We also have resources which are not specifically for Thanksgiving or Advent, but, are so appropriate for a season of hospitality and gift giving. First there is the Godspace Community Cookbook put together last year. It is filled with recipes and stories about them. Then, we also have Walking in Wonder prayer cards which make wonderful gifts or useful treasures to keep for yourself.
Finally we have two Advent virtual retreats, one download, Walking in Wonder through Advent, was recorded a couple of years ago and you can use it to hold your own personal retreat. The other retreat, an Advent Quiet Day, is happening on December 9 and will be led by Christine Sine. Don’t forget to sign up before December 9.
On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
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