Messages of Hope

National Child Protection Week (6th-12th September 2020)

Published / by Sandy

A prayer for all those who work in child safety and protection
Christ Jesus,
You welcomed children and brought healing and hope to their lives.
We pray that as your Church, we will create places of welcome, care and safety for all children, reflecting your love and compassion.
God of love and comfort,
We pray for children who have been neglected or abused.
We pray that people will come into their lives who love and nurture them in healing and life-giving ways.
We pray for child safety workers and all those working in child protection. We thank you for their dedication and the gifts they bring to their vocation to protect and improve the lives of children.
We pray that you will sustain their vision, and uphold them in love and grace.
Christ Jesus, as your church, you call us to be a faithful embodiment of your care and love.
We lament when we have failed to be communities of safety and care.
Challenge and correct us in our failure, and reform our life.
We commit ourselves as your Church to being places of safety, free of abuse and exploitation.
We commit ourselves as your Church to be communities, where people can flourish in ways of trust and love.
We pray that your Spirit will empower us to be advocates for a society in which all children can flourish.
Through Christ, Our Light and Life, we pray, Amen.
(Source: 2017, Dr Deidre Palmer, current President, Uniting Church in Australia)

From the SA Synod website:
The gospel for the 6th September is Matthew 18:15-20, beginning with ‘if your brother or sister sins against you’ speak to them when you are alone, and then describes the process if they fail to listen. It ends with promises regarding answered prayer (19) and the promise of the continuing presence of the risen Jesus (20). The passage is part of the five major discourses that are a feature of Matthew’s gospel and this one focuses on the nature of community.
At the beginning of the chapter there is a clear statement about the inclusion of children in the Christian community, which would have been counter-cultural in Jesus’ day. Then in verse six there are the robust warnings about not putting stumbling blocks in the way of these little ones. The parable of the shepherd follows, and in this context it strengthens the importance of pastoral care, especially not causing little ones to be lost.
When we talk about processes for protecting children in our communities, such as screenings, increasing the number of adults in any Sunday School class, increasing the oversight of Church Council over activities and the like, some people murmur about government regulation and compliance. Matthew 18 reminds us that Jesus, from the very beginning of the Church’s life, placed a high priority on protecting the vulnerable in our communities. It is not only about compliance or the fear of being sued, it is a basic gospel value. People thrive when they feel safe. It is even more difficult to become the person God intends you to be when you first need to be healed from abuse and neglect. National Child Protection Week is an opportunity to pause and commit afresh to being communities where vulnerable people feel safe, are protected and are encouraged to become fully alive in response to the generous grace revealed in Jesus.

Music: O God, when trust is shattered
(Tune: PASSION CHORALE, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)
This 2018 hymn responded to news of abuse by clergy; it was written with input from survivors and counsellors. “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Permission is given for its free use with acknowledgement of the author (see below).

O God, when trust is shattered
by wolves among your sheep,
when youth and children suffer,
when those remembering weep,
when victims tell their stories,
when leaders hide abuse,
bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

When leaders side with evil,
when people do their worst,
may we reach out to victims
and put their healing first.
If any member suffers,
we all will suffer, too.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

We pray that the abusers
will learn sin’s awful cost,
and – making no excuses –
will know that they are lost.
Then may they find redemption –
as we all need it, too.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

May all who serve in churches
be careful, watchful, wise.
May we prevent abuses
and hear your children’s cries.
We pray that institutions
will seek your way anew.
Bring healing, love and mercy!
Bring justice, God of truth!

Tune: Hans Leo Hassler, 1601; harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729
Text: Copyright (c) 2018 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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