There’s an old nursery rhyme – “Tuesday’s child is full of grace.” In October I started sharing sections from the new book — A Child Laughs — Prayers of Justice and Hope (edited by Maria Mankin and Maren C. Tirabassi) Pilgrim Press, May 1, 2017. I paused for Advent and Christmastide and pick up again now with the New Year in hopes that in the season of Epiphany we can share some.
This book asks the question — what does it take for all the children in the world, all the children in the world, to be not only fed and sheltered and safe but also to be able to laugh. More than one hundred themes and issues crucial to hope and justice were crowd-sourced to create this collaborative anthology of fifty-two reflections from seventy-seven writers in eleven different countries. Of course I would love to have my readers buy this book, but even more I want you to hear some of these voices, each so very different. So every week I’m going to share a prayer or reflection or poem from one of these.
TodayI share the personal prayer and a congregational litany on the theme Rhythm and Balance: Living in an Overstressed World written by Katherine Burgess. She writes this about herself. I am the minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Quebec City. Prior to ministry, I was taught – at different times – French, Music, English Language and Literature. As a minister, I’m still a teacher, but with a different focus. I live in this beautiful walled city with my husband, Keith, and our large dog, Bella. Writing has always been part of my life, and I am thrilled to take part in this collaborative effort.
Creator God, I pray for the children
The children who skate
The children who dance
The children who sing
The children who are busy
Every day of the week
I pray that somewhere,
They will be given grace
The grace to rest in your love
The grace to gaze at the stars
The grace to listen to a birdsong
I pray for the parents
So that they will see
How important it is
For their children
Not to be scheduled
All day, every day
I pray that parents and children
Will find the time to be together
To share a snack – cookies and milk –
To read a book, to watch a movie
To talk, to laugh, to cry, to cuddle
Just to be
Help us, Lord, as adults,
To be available for our children
And for other children
To recognize them as precious
As gifts from you
To be cherished
Leader: Lord, we are grateful for our children. Help us to remember that they are only ours for a little while, and that our biggest job is to prepare them to leave us.
People: May we guard our children and keep them from harm.
Leader: Each child has special abilities. Help us to recognize these abilities and encourage our children to develop them as you would wish.
People: May we watch over our children as they grow and find their skills. May we encourage them, but at the same time, allow them to choose what they want to do.
Leader: Each child will face challenges. Help us to see these challenges not as obstacles, but rather as a means of discovering new ways of doing things.
People: May we allow our children to fail sometimes, and teach them that true failure lies in giving up.
Leader: Each child needs faith. Help us to bring them up with faith – faith in themselves, faith in us, and, most of all, faith in you.
People: May we teach our children to pray. May we show them that prayer is a part of our daily life so that, as they grow, it will be a part of theirs.
Leader: Each child needs structure, but they also need freedom. Help us to teach them how to find a balance between the two.
People: May we show our children a balanced life by making sure that our own lives are also balanced, with a good mix of work and play.
Leader: Each child needs love. Help us to show them the love that you show us, forgiving them when they need it, while at the same time letting them know that some behaviours are not acceptable.
People: May we love our children. May we live lives of love, modeling what true love looks like so that they will recognize it in themselves.
Leader: Each child needs boundaries. Help us to help them learn how to set their own boundaries – physical boundaries, emotional boundaries – so that they will be able to protect themselves, in every sense of the word.
People: May we model boundary-setting for our children. May we show them that there are always people who will try to cross boundaries, and give them the courage to stand up for themselves.
Leader: Each child needs adults who care. Help us to be that adult for however many children come into our lives, whether we are the parents or not.
People: May we remember that children are the most vulnerable of all. May we make it our mission never to place them in harm’s way, and, if they are already there, may we do what needs to be done to remove them from it.
All: Lord, we thank you for all of the children. We ask that you be with us as we guide them into a future which we can only imagine. We ask that you be with them so that, as time goes on, they, too, will grow into the adults you always intended them to be. We ask that, no matter what comes into their lives, there will always be time for them to sit with you, time for them not to be busy, time for them just to be. Amen.