Michael Mulberry’s gift to me is this wonderful service for blessing of the backpacks. This took place his final Sunday as pastor in Elton, Illinois. He has now begun his ministry in Billings, Montana.
Often our services are a blessing on children in our own churches and church school teachers, but this is a celebration for all public school teachers. It takes a careful invitation for those folks to feel fully welcome and that’s as much part of the ceremony as the liturgy itself. Thanks to Michael.
Children are encouraged to place their backpacks in a circle around the communion table before the service begins.. Children will then be invited to encircle the backpacks. Teachers and staff of local public schools are invited to a wider circle around them.
One: Today this congregation affirms publicly it spiritual practice to love and encourage and encircle the children, teachers, and parents of our local public schools. We do this out of a strong conviction that God cares for our intellectual and social growth as people.
Beautiful and energetic children, we want you to know that as you carry your backpacks through this school year, you carry a world full of blessings God wants for you. We hope you will see blessings all along the way you can put in your backpack and share with others.
Children: We join with God in blessing our backpacks. We are still learning. We are still growing. Throughout the year, God is still blessing!
One: Wise and gifted teachers and staff, we want you to know that this blessing permeates the universe. Grace and love and compassion are found everywhere so that you do not have to carry this burden alone. May you not only inherit the blessings these children will carry and share, but also the support of a wider community that wants things to go well for you and your children.
Teachers and staff: We join with God in the blessing of our children. We are still learning. We are still growing. Throughout the year, God is still blessing!
One: Compassionate and prophetic people of the United Church of Byron, you now do what you have always done through this children and youth ministry. You provide wide arms of care that envelope and encircle these backpacks, these children, and these teachers and staff. God is once again on the move through these beautiful and energetic children and these wise and gifted teachers and staff. Once again, as people who live under a tent of care, you are called to incarnate God’s love of learning, God’s call to growth, and God’s blessing and love for these children, teachers, and staff
United Church of Byron: We join with God in the blessing of these children, our children. We join with God in the blessing of these teachers and staff, and our teachers and staff. We are still learning. We are still growing. Throughout the year, God is still blessing.
One: Children, extend out your arm over these backpacks and say with me. Teachers and staff, please extend your arms out over the children.
(Responding and repeating)
In these backpacks,
We not only carry,
Pencils and pens,
Books and paper,
And God’s want for our learning and growth,
We also carry