Students and teachers of all ages are going back to school in our communities in both public and private settings. Whether it is a preschoolers first experience of Nursery School or a young adult living away from home for the first time at college, when September rolls around we are reminded of new beginnings. We pray for all who begin or renew the wonder of learning and teaching. And we pray for parents – to support those who teach their children and for the ability to ‘let go’ as their children begin new, independent lives.
God the source of all our inspiration, help us to understand ourselves, our world and you; and grant those who teach us and our children respect for others’ inventiveness and questioning, and for themselves commitment to truth. A New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 140 (1989: W. Collins Publishers)
Lord, let your Holy Spirit rest upon our school, that it may be a place of love and truth where the weak are made strong, and the strong learn humility, and all of us learn the wisdom that alone comes from you. Prayers for Children compiled by Christopher Herbert p. 134 (1994: Forward Movement Publications)
O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges and universities (especially . . .), that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery ad the pursuit of wisdom; grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth. The New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 140 (1994: W. Collins Publishers)
Lord, help us to progress steadily in wisdom, age and grace before you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Be with ________ and ________ as they begin another school year. May ________ build on the lessons already learned. Let the spirit of our family be the gift that ________ shares with his/her teachers and school community. We know that you guide each of us. Give wisdom and understanding to ________, who we send on his/her way this day. Adapted from The Blessing Cup: Prayer-Rituals for Families and Groups by Rock Travnikar (2002: St. Anthony Messenger Press)
It’s hard to let go, God. For years I was trying to guide and teach and nurture my children and now they are independent. Whatever good I did or didn’t do, and whatever mistakes I made or didn’t make, are in the past. Teach me how to love them as adult friends, as people in their own right with whom I can share and laugh and cry, knowing always that if they need me or I need them, we are here for each other. Take care of my children, God, and do for them what I can no longer do. Plain Prayers for a Complicated World by Avery Brooke, p. 121 (1993: Cowley Books)
Our lives are full of change and new opportunities, O God. We pause now to give thanks for these students who are about to begin their incredible new journey at college. Teach them how to take advantage of all the opportunities that lie before them as part of the college community and the global community. We give thanks for the families of students whose love, support, and commitment helped them seek education. Comfort them and guide them as they continue to offer their support, perhaps even over long distances. We give thanks for faculty and staff, whose efforts bring students to college. They work to provide a safe place to learn and grow. Accompany every single person as each journeys on his or her vocation. Thank you for new opportunities, O God. Amen. (Katherine Low) Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship Maren C. Tirabassi & Maria I. Tirabassi, editors (2007: The Pilgrim Press)
Many churches bless students as they are about to depart for college. Many collect school supplies for others. And many have begun a ritual of ‘Blessing the Backpacks‘ as children are about to begin another year of hopping on the bus. How might you develop such a liturgy?