United Church of Christ

619 Township Line Road, East Norriton, PA  19403
"An Open and Affirming Community of Faith"

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On the third Sunday of October we will observe Children’s Sabbath. National observance of Children's Sabbaths is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of God, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect, and advocate for all children. Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, OSUCC will join thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples across the country in holding a special worship service advocating for the welfare of all children and their families.

So often when we think about children suffering, we image kids in war-torn or developing nations. And it is true that globally children make up nearly half of all refugees, and that 19.5% of the world's children live in extreme poverty. But children right here in the United States face incredible hurdles just to live healthy, safe lives. For example, the number of uninsured children in the US had consistently dropped over the past decade... Until the past two years. Since 2016 the number of children without health insurance has increased to 4.3 million. Here in this prosperous nation, in the age of modern medicine, there is no excuse for children to lack access to antibiotics and basic checkups. Furthermore, 1 in 7 children in the US lives with hunger. More than 12 million children live in "food insecure" homes, meaning there is not enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life. Gun violence is a major threat to our children. So far in 2019 there were at least 69 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, with 22 actual mass school shootings. Nearly 2,900 children and teens are shot and killed each year in the US, and 15,600 more are shot and injured. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, "death by gunshot" is the second highest cause of death for children in the US; more than any other industrialized nation. (The rate of gun death among children in the US is 36.5 times the rate in other high-income countries.) Nevertheless we - as a nation - continue to value our assault rifles over our children's lives. Finally, this summer saw more than 2,000 children being held in prisons without their parents, for having fled to the US seeking safety or family. Seven children have died in ICE custody this year. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the trauma of forced detention will affect kids’ physical and mental health for a long time, and that they may never fully recover. What example is our nation setting in how we cherish our children? To date, the United States, Somalia, and South Sudan are the only three countries in the world that have notratified the United NationsConvention on the Rights of the Child (adopted in 1989). The problems facing children right here in the US can seem shocking and insurmountable.

Christ teaches: "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-7). The promise of Jesus is: “It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14). As such, it is our sacred duty to protect and cherish all God’s children. Join us Sunday, October 20th as we observe Children’s Sabbath, and lift up those children most at risk in our society.

Pastor Leslie

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