Blessing the Backpacks

Blessing the Backpacks
by Various Authors
O Lord God, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world. Grant that teachers and other school personnel may be a means of grace and learning to these students this year. May this year be full of promise for students and teachers alike: . a promise of new beginnings for some and fresh starts for others. . a promise of friendships with classmates and colleagues that refresh the spirit and honor God. . a promise to grow in knowledge and wisdom all the days of their lives. . a promise of safety for each classroom and mutual respect for each student and teacher. May there be enough challenges in school to call upon their best efforts and enough accomplishments to satisfy and delight them. Now bless these backpacks and briefcases as a symbol of your divine wisdom, care, and abiding presence with each of these your children. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen. (from the Diocese of Georgia courtesy of the Rev. Silito Romero, St. Philip's, San Jose)
[Ahead of time, publicize that all those who attend school should bring their backpacks to worship that Sunday. At the beginning of the worship service on Rally Day, have all students (young and old!) come to the front, asking those who have remembered their backpacks to place them close to the altar. Then invite everyone else who is involved in education to stand-parents and/or guardians of those attending school, teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, school crossing guards, school board members or school activity volunteers, school nurses and social workers, and so forth. Wish everyone well as they begin this new school year. Assure them that your congregation is a community that loves and supports them in all that they do. End by asking God's special blessing on them all, using the prayer that follows if you desire:] Lord, God of Wisdom and Learning, of leaders and learners, these backpacks remind us that a new school year is about to begin. We pray your blessing upon their owners and upon all students, young and old, as they begin this new school year. We ask your blessing, also, on all who work with or support them in their education. Let each person who stands before us now feel the love and support of this congregation, and grant this congregation the wisdom and means to meet their needs throughout the coming year. We all are called to be part of your work in the world, Lord, and you have given each one of us gifts and strengths to use in that work. Help each of these students to discover and develop his or her gifts and strengths and know how to use them for your purposes. Remind them, too, that whatever their gifts, they are doing your work when they are kind and caring to others, when they do their best in their studies and other activities, when they respect others and themselves, and when they contribute in even small ways to make things better or more pleasant for others. Bless also, Lord, those who stand here with the students. Whatever their task or role in education, guide them to do it with a conscious effort to in some way make life better or more pleasant for others. Give them pride in what they do, reminding them and us that even the most ordinary task becomes extraordinary when done in your name. We ask this all, Lord, knowing that you love and hear us. Amen. (from Connections, the online newsletter of Centered Life Initiative at Luther Seminary)
When does school start? How many of you are excited? Are any of you a little scared? Why do you have to go to school? God gives all of us jobs; things to do that help us to serve God in the world. This is called our vocation. You have a vocation, and one of your vocations right now is to go to school. You can serve God by going to school and learning about God's world, by being with other people, by being loving toward others. And you learn things you need to know for whatever vocation you might have later in life. And you learn things you need to know for whatever vocation you might have later in life. And you're not just learners. You are teachers; kids have lots of stuff to teach grown-ups about God. You can teach us about faith and love. We need you in school, and we need you here with us at church. So now we want to say a special prayer for you, asking God's blessings as you get ready to start your vocation of being in school. Listen to this story from Matthew's book in the Bible, "Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." God, bless this bag and the child who will use it. Let him/her not be scared, be with him/her as he/she learns and grows this year. Show him/her how to serve you and help him/her to teach us all about your love. In Jesus' name. Amen. Have all school workers stand: Read Romans 12:4-8. The school system that teaches children and helps them to live out their vocation requires a body of people with different gifts. We bless you now as you begin your vocation of helping children. Let us pray, "Lord God, we ask your blessings on these women and men who serve you in so many different ways. We pray that you would give them patience, wisdom, and a sense of humor. Use them to show children your love and to guide children as they grow in the body of Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen." Have everyone stand: We all are called to support, encourage, and pray for the children who are members of the fellowship we all share with Christ Jesus. We are all called to be teachers and learners with children; we are to teach them about God's love, and also to learn from what children have to teach us. We bless you now as your support these children. Let us pray. "Lord God, bless all the people you have gathered here today. Especially bless them as they support, protect, and encourage the children among us. May they, with the children, be both teachers and learners. In Christ's name we pray. Amen." (by Jennifer English, Calvary Lutheran Church, Grand Forks, ND)
In this world of instant messaging, may our children and young people find your word to be a blessing in every moment of their lives. In this world of chatrooms, may our young people and children see you in every one they meet on FaceBook, MySpace, and YouTube. In this world in which cultures meet every day in neighborhoods, at Starbucks, in classrooms, may our children and young people open their eyes, their ears, their hearts to those differences which can enrich their lives. In this world which calls you by many names, may our young people and children discover ways to talk about you which affirms and values the faith of every person around them. In this world bombarded with videos, iTunes, and cranked up audio stystems in cars, may our children and young people find that silence each day where they might hear your still, small voice of hope, joy, and grace. In this world - in their world, O God, may our young people and children always find you! Amen.