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Pray for Our Public Schools09/11/2012
In Prayer for Public Schools
I am calling on United Methodists to be in prayer for our public schools in all our communities across this conference. As I write this, the Chicago Public Schools are in their second day of strike. Perhaps by the time you read this, the strike will be over it or it may go on for days. Either way, I'm calling on us to be in prayer for all public schools with special bidding for the Chicago Public School system. Today and throughout the fall.
The Chicago Public Schools is the third largest public school system in the U.S. As a large and complex system, its issues are heightened but they are the same in most school systems across Illinois and even throughout the country. The outcome of this strike may well have impact on how other school systems resolve their economics, politics and educational reform initiatives.
Therefore, I am calling on all United Methodists to pray for our schools. Pray for teachers, administrators and public servants who are often caught between competing needs and realities of politics, economics, justice and compassion. Pray for parents, families, grandparents and neighbors who seek to provide for the children in this strike and give support daily for children across this state and nation to grow up strong of body, mind and soul.
Ultimately, however, my primary concern is the children. Pray for the children. It's not easy to be a kid these days. Especially in a large public school system in a city which is gripped with violence. One mother bemoaned that she had to keep her child inside during the strike because it was too dangerous to play outside. One child thought his teacher was mean to go on strike because it meant he was going to miss play days in the summer (what does that do to his relationship with the teacher when school is back in session?). Even if the children in your school system aren't on strike, they are most likely aware that education is a political battleground if not literally a war zone.
While the children are of ultimate concern for me, I want to remind us who might not have children in the school system that the children in our public schools are the ones who will be making decisions about our lives in the future. We want them to be well-educated, caring and compassionate as well as smart. They hold our lives in their hands! Pray for their education for their sake and yours!
In addition to praying, please take an action step, not only if you live in the Chicago Public School district. Give a word of encouragement to a teacher. Send an email to an administrator or public servant who makes important decisions about our public schools. Learn the names of the children in your church or neighborhood whose lives are forever impacted by the quality of their education; imagine their face as the face of Jesus. "Whatsoever you do unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done unto me." (Matthew 25:40)
I encourage all United Methodist churches to find a way to be in partnership with the public schools in your area, especially those who need it most. If you are partnering with your schools, I'd like to hear about it!
Whether this strike is over today or tomorrow or goes on for weeks, whether you live in the Chicago Public School district or miles away, whether you have children in public schools or not, please, keep the public schools in your prayers throughout the fall. Let's be United Methodist in prayer for public schools.
Please join me in prayer for our public schools:
O God, you sent your Son Jesus as a child into our neighborhood, this world. Jesus loved the little children then and loves them now. He rebuked those who pushed them away. Help us to see in each child in our neighborhood the face of Jesus. We pray for our public servants, our teachers and administrators who care for the children and also face competing needs and demands. Give them wisdom and insight, compassion and justice. But most of all, we pray, O God, for the children, all the children in our schools. In the name of the one who loves the little children, Amen.
In prayer for our public schools,
Northern Illinois Conference