Christ United Methodist Church recently hosted the Blessing of the Backpacks, as we start a new school year in a new unified Shelby County Schools district.
Here’s the blessing I delivered that morning, Aug. 4:
Today we pray for our children. For they are our hope for today and tomorrow. In their eyes, we find the best experience of the day. In their lives, we encounter eternity and find abundance in life today.
Gracious God, give us courage to not fail our children from receiving the gifts that Scripture says is their birthright—
–the gift of faithful parents
–the gift of an opportunity to make a better way
–the gift of resources like good medical care, stable families, and safe homes & neighborhoods
–the gift of faith and a church family
–the gift of communities that value one another through the eyes of Jesus instead the lens of race, money or ideology.
Today, we pray specifically for the gift of an education- for we believe an education is the handing out of life chances—and all of us, regardless of our zip codes, our family health, our economic background, our educational legacy, or our social pedigree—deserve that chance for a better life.
We believe the right to an excellent education is the Civil Rights issue of our day— the moral cause of our society— the spiritual call for justice and righteousness that continues to rain down, as the Prophet states, like a river for our generation.
And, so, today we pray for those who offer our children their life chances—in whatever arena or place we have been planted—in public, private, parochial or homeschool settings–
For, today, there are no ‘those children’—only ‘our children’.
Gracious God, we pray-
For the parents—for their strength, commitment, fortitude to be the best first teachers and strongest advocates our children will ever have-
For the teachers—for their patience, for confidence, for grace, for training, that in spite of never being paid what they are truly worth, they continue to share gifts which are priceless.
For administrators—for their wisdom, courage, fortitude, and selfless perspective, that they may have the chance to lead, passionately over the horizon of tomorrow, not simply fix the systems of today.
For support staff—for their smile, their helping hand, their constant word of encouragement, that will meet most of our children before anyone else (whether on a bus, in a school hallway, in a cafeteria)
For community leaders—for their focus, effective management, for leadership, and the constant insistence that our children, their futures, their hopes, and their dreams belong to all of us…
For our neighbors and fellows citizens—for their sacrifice, maturity, and effort that makes the difference between a good school experience for our children and a great one that changes a destiny.
But, especially, we pray for our children– for a love of learning, a good night’s sleep, full bellies, a joyful heart, and a perpetual smile, that makes tomorrow the first day for meeting their potential.
And, we pray for each other—for the hearts, minds, hands and feet that not only love you, Jesus, but love like you—and that draw to your words like air—‘let the little children come to Me, for in such is found the Kingdom of God’.
IN Christ we pray, Amen.