Blessing of the Backpacks!
lectionary focus: Hebrews 11:1
prop: a clock with no hands
editor’s note: You’re right! My church no longer follows the RCL so my lectionary focus will not match, but I thought this sermon for Back to School was good enough to share. And you can easily squeeze the verse into your service. Hope all of you are doing well! Peace, Fran
Once again, it is time for our annual Blessing of the Backpacks. Each year, we take a little time to celebrate the start of the school year and ask for God’s blessings to be upon us. Usually at this point in time, I pull something weird out of my backpack; over the years, I’ve had solar eclipse glasses, a lightbulb, a canoe paddle, a pineapple, and last year…brussels sprouts. Not very practical school things you’d expect to find in a backpack. But alas, this time, your expectations are for naught. I just have regular, old, ordinary things in my backpack: notebooks, pens, keys, my school id, phone. And finally…well…before I show you the last, obvious, useful, thing in my backpack…
This summer Mr. Bill and I went on another long camping trip. And as we drove across the West, we saw lots of signs. Signs are helpful. Signs tell us where we are and how to get where we are going. Montana signs are fun, like, Speed Limit 80 mph. Or the Colorado curly-road-ahead signs, Speed Limit 55 mph. Other signs are obvious: Avoid Rattlesnakes. But there was one big road sign that got us thinking. It said, “Expect Delays.” ‘Expect’ means know this is going to happen and be prepared. ‘Delays’ are times of waiting…and the kind of waiting that makes us late. This ‘Expect Delays’ sign made perfect sense because of the road construction that caused traffic to stop as giant bulldozers and pavers did their work. This gave me and Mr. Bill time to think about how appropriately this warning would help with the rest of life.
We all look forward to events in the future. Expecting delays would certainly ease the disappointment of the inevitable waiting.
Church teaches us to expect and prepare for delays with hope. Hope is our comfort while waiting. Hope is the knowing that the delay will pass and the future will be.
But today’s Bible Story emphasizes that hope has a partner: faith. While hope assures the future, faith anchors the now. The well-known verse from the Book of Hebrews tells us that Faith is the confidence in God now. Hope is that we know God will be with us in this new school year; faith is that we know God is with us now. And now. And still now.
And so what do I have in my backpack? Without further delay, I just have…a clock. A common tool we use many times a day.
But you might notice this clock looks a bit unprepared. This clock is missing the hands. You know the long and short pieces that point to the numbers to show us the time. What good is a clock that doesn’t tell time? Ah, but it does. This clock tells us that it is…now. And as in our Bible Story, for God, it is always…now. And now…is when God is with us.
So my not-so-regular, not-so-ordinary, not-so-useful clock in my backpack is actually a very special tool. And whenever I hear someone ask, What time is it? I can faithfully smile and know that it is always now.
As we all go forth and live in the nows of this new school year, let us…have faith and prepare with hope—God is with us now and God will still be with us now.
Please grab ahold of your backpacks or briefcases and pray with me as we faithfully hope for this new school year?
It is time!
It is now!
School is starting.
Strengthen our hope.
Anchor our faith.
You are with us.
You will be with us.
You have always been with us.
and still now.
We love You.
You love us.
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.