Pentecost 17–September 19

To Change the World, Welcome the Children

Service Prayers for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 19, 2021

Mark 9:30-37

Centering Meditation [I]t is absolutely impossible for someone who has grown up in an environment of honesty, respect, and affection ever to feel driven to torment a weaker person in such a way as to inflict lifelong damage. [This person] has learned very early on that it is right and proper to provide the small, helpless creature with protection and guidance; this knowledge, stored at that early stage in mind and body, will remain effective for the rest of this life.
Banished Knowledge, Alice Miller


One: Jesus challenges us in today’s gospel:
Many: Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

One: Then Jesus took a little child and put it among them;
and taking the child in his arms, he said to them:
Many: Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.

One: We are still learning today
what Jesus came to teach us two thousand years ago.
To change the world
we must change the way we love and welcome all children!
Many: May we learn to love all children as if they were our own!

One: Will all the children present please lift up your voices
so all of us adults can hear you?
Say your name and say ‘Hello!’

Children: Say their names and ‘hello’–a happy chaos moment!

All: Welcome, children!

Dear God,
Jesus has called us to welcome children as a way to welcome you.
So please, hear our voices as we welcome the children in our midst:

We welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ!

And please, dear God of compassion and justice, hear our voices:

With the presence of our children we welcome you!

Teach us the way to make the last first and to be servants of all.
Guide us in your way of humility and service.
Show us how to become disciples of Jesus Christ
your Child and our brother.
We ask for blessings on all your children in our holy family. Amen.

Let us think about all the children in our own lives, our community’s life,
and in our world. What are their needs; where do we fail as individuals and community in welcome, nurture and care for them? (Silence)

Dear God,
We often have not welcomed the children as Jesus has commanded.
Too many children in our community and world
suffer from violence, abuse, neglect and poverty.
We know that if we were to join together to welcome and care,
to celebrate and honor our children we would save ourselves and our world.
We need forgiveness. We want to make amends. We want to change.
We want to learn to welcome all children, for in loving and caring for them,
we welcome your reign of justice and peace.

We give thanks for our savior and teacher Jesus Christ,
who was born among us as a child needing nurture and care,
and grew to reveal your power to make all things new.
We give thanks and rejoice that in Christ we are forgiven
and given strength to grow in discipleship. Thanks be to God!

O God, you who have given us life,
you who have made every child a holy child,
we give you thanks. May we open our hearts now and give generously to you
and to your church – for the sake of the children who are our future.

Go forth and welcome all God’s children,
making the last, first, and becoming a servant to all.
Like Jesus, take a little child and put her among you;
take her into your arms, and remember,
Whoever welcomes one such child welcomes God!
Go forth to change the world as Jesus has commanded by
offering welcome, justice and compassion to all children
and to the ‘least of these.’
Go forth in God’s welcome and love.

To Change the World, Welcome the Children: Service Prayers for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost was written by the Rev. Bonnie Tarwater of San Diego, CA.

Copyright 2021, Faith INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.

Pentecost 17–September 19