I had the privilege today of leading the invocation for the Jacksonville Exchange Club and the Healing Field Child Abuse Prevention ceremony. Each year in the Untied States, an estimated 1,530 children die from the results of child abuse and neglect (source: Child Help USA). The Exchange Club seeks to bring awareness to this national tragedy. "The Healing Field" set up in Metropolitan Park featured 1,530 U.S. Flags standing on 8ft. poles. This haunting sight was a vivid reminder of the enormity of child abuse. The names of the children who died in Florida were read during the ceremony before a moment of silence.
I applaud the National Exchange Club and the Exchange Clubs of Jacksonville for shining a light on this tragedy and for funding efforts to prevent child abuse in the first place. I hope you will also find a way to help support child abuse prevention efforts.
Here is the prayer that I offered at the ceremony today.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you today in humble reverence and dependence. We ask for your blessings on this solemn ceremony.
This is a day, Father, in which we remember, we mourn, and we rededicate ourselves. We remember. We remember those who have died, vowing that they will not have died in vain. We mourn. We mourn the children represented by these many flags --- children who have lost their lives in the time of innocence at the hands of abusers. We mourn. We mourn the heartache and pain they endured. We mourn their childhood dreams that are not to be. We mourn the smiles lost and the laughter silenced. We mourn for their families who still carry the burden of grief. We remember, we mourn, but Father, help us also to rededicate ourselves. May you grant us the strength to rededicate ourselves to the holy task of protecting our precious children.
Rather than merely cursing the darkness, help us to light a candle. Enable us by thy glorious might to shine a light on this sin that plagues our land. Help us to shine a light on the children who still live in the shadows of fear and danger. Let us shine a light on them as they pray for help and deliverance in the darkness of night. And Father, grant that we would be the answer to their prayers. Let us go forth from this place today after all is said and done, as mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends, citizens and fellow human beings, determined to eradicate this scourge from our Land. These are our children Father, and they are our responsibility. But in a greater way, they are your children Father. And we will one day stand before you to give an account of how we treated them and protected them. Bless us with your grace to be your Body on earth, showing your compassion to all, but especially to the children.
This I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.