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Weekly worship: Sunday 18 November

Universal Children’s Day: points for sermons and prayers for Sunday 18 November.

Children in Las Camelias humanitarian zone in Curbarado, Colombia.

Children in Las Camelias humanitarian zone in Curbarado, Colombia.

1 Samuel 1:4-20 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10

In the Maasai culture, one of the traditional tribal cultures of East Africa, a child is not named until she or he is about five months old, depending on the local context. Part of the reason for this is because child mortality is so high and therefore this is a social mechanism for coping with the challenge.

However, after the child is named, there is a lot of value placed on children with the child belonging to, and being cared for, by the entire community.

But the likelihood is that in most communities of the world, the child is very special to the woman who bears and initially nurtures the child. The biblical story of Hannah illustrates this importance.

The scriptures record how Hannah desperately desired a child and suffered the taunts of a co-wife for lack of one. In her anguish, she cried out to God and got to her breaking point when she finally went to the temple for several days to pray for that need to be met.

She was driven to a breaking point so much so that it seemed to Eli, the priest, that she was drunk, a presumption that earned her a rebuke. But God answered her prayer at that breaking point and, assured of that, she went back home and duly gave birth to a son.

Because of her experience she purposed that she would then dedicate her son to God for it was God who had lifted her burden.

What began as an earnest prayer for a child ended up with an eager purpose for her child. Hannah did not turn back from devoting her child to God, setting him on a path of purpose. However as we look forward to the Universal Children’s Day in this coming week, we are cognisant of the fact that we are still challenged globally in ensuring our prayers for our children end up in meaningful purpose for our children.

The latest UN report on children – Level and Trends in Child Mortality (2018) – regretted that in an age where we have breakthrough interventions that can save lives, we still lost an average of 15,000 children from preventable causes and treatable diseases.

Achieving the goal of significantly reducing the child mortality rates is not just a health matter for the child but also for the mother. Access to affordable and quality health care to first the mother and then the child, significantly improves the child’s chances of survival. And this of course is impossible where the mother and child have conflict domestically or where there is civil strife. This is made more difficult where the mother is poorly educated. 

Hannah prayed for her child and God met her at her breaking point. God blessed her with a child and she was privileged to direct him to a purpose that he served well in his lifetime. We have the opportunity to pray for children all over the world who may be facing a breaking point in their lives with many who may not get to celebrate their fifth birthday.

But we may also have the opportunity like Eli, who realised that the woman in front of him was not drunk but desperate in prayer for a child. He blessed her and she begot a child whom she dedicated to a purpose. We can in prayer stand by the many women who with children do not know what their future will look like unless there is divine intervention through the agency of fellow women and men.

This week’s pointers have been provided by Bob Kikuyu, Christian Aid’s senior theology advisor and church partnerships co-ordinator.

Prayer

Jesus,
Through children you taught us about your kingdom
And now we pray that we may be your instruments
To nurture our children for your kingdom
Through our care and compassion
And our acts of protection. Amen.

Points for prayer

Give thanks for the children in your community and your life that you celebrate this Universal Children’s day. Pray for their wellbeing and flourishing in the world.

World Toilet Day is on 19 November. Pray for the 2.4 billion people who struggle to stay well and keep their children alive because of a lack of adequate sanitation. Pray they would get the toilet facilities they need.

Give thanks for a new toilet block that has been built for boys and girls at Shree Manakamana primary school in Dolakha, Nepal. Two classrooms and toilets for boys and girls have been constructed in the school so that children can study in a safer environment. 

Praise God for the restoring work of Christian Aid partner CEEPARD in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. Pray for all those who are still rebuilding their lives and confidence after the devastation it caused.

Prayer points taken from the prayer diary which you can read in full here.