Here’s an Idea! Blessing of the Backpacks 2013

IMG_9864for Sunday, August 18, 2013
Blessing of the Backpacks 2013
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
13th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 15
Year C
lectionary focus: Hebrews 11:29-12:2
prop: incandescent lightbulb (carefully) nestled in your backpack

There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.
~Sir Joshua Reynolds

(Edison’s favorite quote around his laboratory.)

Good morning! We are getting ready for a new school year and we all have our backpacks today! For this service last year, I had a cabbage in my backpack. I wonder what I have this year? Here’s an idea:

This is a lightbulb. This is not something that you will find in anybody’s backpack, but you will see lots of them in schools. And in school, you will learn that Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Some people say that it is the most important invention because without it we’d be in the dark. But the thing is, Thomas Edison did NOT invent the lightbulb. No, in fact there is a whole list of guys who made lightbulbs long before Mr. Edison did. Thomas Edison was the scientist who made the lightbulb practical and easily available for everybody. This kind of lightbulb works by running electricity through the wire inside which then glows, shining light. But the early guys used wires inside that were very expensive, hard to find, or only glowed for a few minutes. Candles were much better than those bulbs. Mr. Edison, though, thought there had to be a way to make a lightbulb work easily. So he began experimenting, trying to find the right wire to use inside. Mr. Edison tried over 6,000 types of wires before he found the right one.* That’s a lot of wires! (Side note: You’d have to eat 30 Oreos every school day for a school whole year to eat 6,000 Oreos!) Mr. Edison had what we call perseverance. He moved forward in his work with persistence. This means that even though it was hard work, he stuck to it.

In our Bible story today, we are reminded that life is about sticking to it. We are called to be persistent, to live our lives with perseverance, to keep working even when things get hard. And these are good words for us to hear right now before we start school. Oh, sure, school is fun and all of that, but there will be times, there are times, that school is hard. Sometimes, we would much rather do anything than think! But just like inventing a lightbulb is one experiment at a time, learning is one thought at a time. Think and then think some more…and soon you will want to think even more! And then you will have a mind full of bright, shining lightbulbs!

Today we prepare to start school and we ask God to be with us as we learn. We ask God to be with us as we think. We ask God to stick with us as we stick with learning. We ask God to light our paths and guide our feet that we may run the race to learning with perseverance.

When we say our prayer today, I will say a line and use some hand motions and I’d like for you to repeat the line using the same motions. Will you pray with me?

Dear Lord,
As I hold my backpack, (hold your backpack)
Lord, keep me learning.
As I hold my head, (hold your head)
Lord, keep me learning.
As I hold my feet, (hold your feet)
Lord, keep me learning.
As I hold my heart, (hands over your heart)
Lord, keep me learning.
Guide my feet, (hands on feet)
Guide my heart, (hands on heart)
Guide my mind. (hands on head)
Bless me (folded hands for the remainder of prayer)
through this school year
that I may persevere
in my race to learn.

And now we will sing with Miss Amanda “Guide My Feet While I Run this Race.”

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
Happy New School Year!

* information source

4 responses to “Here’s an Idea! Blessing of the Backpacks 2013

  1. Hey, Fran!

    I was trying to picture how this works logistically with my Episcopal brain – does your pastor do a separate litany at a different point in the service? Does EVERYONE bring their backpack forward? I tried (very briefly) to find a litany on your blog, but maybe I just imagined I had seen it in an earlier year.
    Thanks for your ministry to us all, even the confused Episcopal ones!


    • Hey Jill,
      At our church, we do the Backpack Blessing during the children’s moment. Each kid brings their backpack or bookbag or lunchbox or whatever down front to the chancel steps. Some grownups and parents will bring their briefcases or purses or whatever down as well…maybe placing them on the steps near us and then going to sit in a front pew. We usually start the children’s moment by inviting those staying in the pews to get out their whatevers…including cell phones which are total work-lifelines…and join in the prayer from their seats. We don’t have a standard litany that we use each year, but all of this is flexible. You can certainly write your own litany (or find one on the Internet) and use it each year. You can do the blessing during the children’s moment letting the priest step in to lead the litany. Or during the children’s sermon you can say, “In a few minutes we will be doing the Blessing of the Backpacks…” and then have the blessing and litany as a separate part of the service. I try to be sensitive that some people believe we do NOT ask blessings on things…which I think is kind of beautiful…but as with all of my sermons, they are just guidelines. I hope this helps free you from your confusion!

  2. Pingback: 2013 Back to School Prayer Vigil | What Can We Leave Out…

  3. Pingback: Blessing of the Backpacks | Sidewalk Chalk

I wonder what you think of this story?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.