A Sermon for 21 October 2018 – Children’s Sabbath
A reading from Isaiah 43:1-7. Listen for God’s word to us.
I’ll be reading from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Listen.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; 6 I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth – 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.’”
This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!
I’m up first in today’s three-person tag-team sermon entitled: Three Views of Our Hopes for Every Child. In addition to my hopes for every child, we’ll hear from one of our teen members, then from the Community Involvement Specialist at our community partner H.G. Hill Middle School. Each of us will give our perspective on our hopes for every child. Because Children’s Sabbath 2018 is all about Hope for Every Child. . . . Hope can be difficult to describe. One source defines hope as “deeper than simple optimism, and more mysterious, delicate, and elusive.” The source states that: “Hope is a feeling we must develop and cultivate, but like faith is also a state with which we are graced. Hope can foster determination and grit” (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/collections/142028/poems-of-hope-and-resilience). I think hope has something to do with the ability to bounce back. Resilient. Hope is that force in us that keeps us determined despite any setbacks. No matter how seemingly impossible. It’s been said that hope motivates us to change what we can control.
Children can’t control very much in their lives. They’re born into families that will dramatically shape who they will become. Being born into circumstances of poverty – as far too many children in this world still are – can rob a child of a healthy, well-adjusted, hope-full future. Being born into complicated situations like to mothers and fathers who may never have wanted a baby due to their own immaturity or wounds or challenges can make life extra difficult for a child as they grow. . . . When I consider my hope for every child, the words of the prophet Isaiah come to me. Words first spoken to an exiled people who weren’t so sure they mattered much to anyone – least of all the Sovereign God of the Universe. Creator of it all. The prophet’s words seek to re-strengthen the people. To remind. To deepen their hope. As a mouthpiece for God, the prophet declares God’s message: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. . . . you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you . . . Do not fear, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 4, 5).
One thing you, me, and every child can seek to control each day is the message we allow to reside inside us. Will it be a message from the circumstances of our lives or a message of our beloved worth taken from God’s word to us? . . . A recently released pop Christian song called “You Say” puts it this way: “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough. Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up. Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low? Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know.” An uplifting refrain swells as the singer belts full voice: “You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing. You say I am strong when I think I am weak. You say I am held when I am falling short. And when I don’t belong, you say I am yours” (“You Say,” sung by Lauren Daigle, Look Up Child, 2018). . . . My hope for every child is to know this truth. To feel down deep in our insides that the great Maker of heaven and earth claims us all as beloved. Gives us a Voice to trust above any lessor messages from peers or parents or culture. My hope for every child – no matter our location or age – is to live out of the truth that we matter immensely to God. We are precious in God’s sight. Honored. Loved.
(Two additional views from two other speakers – not included here.)
There you have it. Three views of our hopes for every child! Note the similarities and the varied perspectives we each bring. Let these words, our hopes – all our hopes – motivate us to embody the love of God for every child!
In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.
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