Category Archives: Blessing of the Backpacks

Blessing of the Backpacks 2017

Nuestra Luna by B Woodruff

Blessing of the Backpacks
August/September 2017
lectionary focus: Romans: 8:38-39
props: backpack with school supplies, solar eclipse glasses, a Bible that you have written in the added text…

Whoop! Whoop!

It’s Back to School! We are gathered here at EPC for our annual Blessing of the Backpacks. And not just students with backpacks, we all take this time to lift up our briefcases, and purses, and lunch boxes, and diaper bags, and grocery bags, and ask God to bless us with strength, courage, and faith as we go about living our lives to God’s glory in this new school year.

I’ve got my backpack. I’ve got the usual school supplies: notebook, pencils, pens, phone, and keys. And once again, I’ve got an un-usual school supply. (take out solar eclipse glasses and put on) These are solar eclipse glasses. You might have heard and will certainly be hearing that on August 21 there will be a pretty cool solar eclipse. This means that in the middle of the day the sun will disappear. Wellllll, not really disappear. The science is: the moon, our moon, that orbits around our earth, will come between our earth and our sun so that our moon blocks our view of the sun and blocks the sun’s rays from coming to our earth—so in the middle of the day, it will get dark, and for a few minutes, it will seem that the sun has disappeared, gone away, left us.

Long ago before people understood the science of an eclipse, they would watch this event without special protective eclipse glasses and two scary things would happen: their eyes would get damaged—some would go blind—because eyes are not strong enough to look directly at even the edge of the sun; and the other scary thing that would happen—the people thought that they had done something bad and the sun was leaving them in darkness forever.

Now we know how to protect our eyes and we recognize the patterns of the solar system. We know that a solar eclipse is a cool and rare event—something to celebrate—and that even though it goes dark in the middle of the day, the sun is still there.

Our Bible Story today goes so well with the eclipse and back to school. It is one of my favorites. It is so great, let me just read it to you straight from the Bible. It’s from the book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 38 and 39.

For I am convinced that no thing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord—neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor school, nor teachers, nor parents, homework, tests, pop quizzes, essay questions, ACT prep, research papers, overdue library books, dull pencils, broken shoe laces, bad hair cuts, school lunches, friends, not friends, football games, carpool, rainy days…nor eclipses…nor any thing else in all creation will be able to separate us from God.

Yep. That’s what it says. And it means that we are God’s precious children, and even when our world is dark, God is here and God loves us. We can’t do anything, nor can anything happen, that would make God go away.

Each day as you load up your backpack or briefcase or diaper bag, know that you carry God with you and that God carries you.

Will you put your hands on your backpack and pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord
Thank You
for a wonderful summer.
Thank You
for a new school year.
Bless me
with strength
with courage
and with faith
that I will confidently know
You are with me
always.
We love you.
You love us.
Always.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

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.
Amen

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

More than a Cabbage — Blessing of the Backpacks 2012

for Sunday, August 19, 2012
Blessing of the Backpacks
12th Sunday after Pentecost
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 15
lectionary focus: Psalm 111
prop: backpacks all around!

“Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages. It’s accelerative. The more we know, the more we want to know.” ― David McCullough

Today I have a cabbage.

Cabbages are green leafy vegetables. They grow all summer long, above the ground, in a mild climate with a good amount of rain. In the fall they are nice and fat and ready to be harvested. People eat cabbage raw in cole slaw, or they cook it in soups or as a side dish…some people think it smells bad then. It looks kind of like lettuce though the leaves are thicker and feel almost waxy. But I have a cabbage with me today not because those things are important. In fact, I’m pretty sure you have been only half listening to these cabbage facts. And in fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve been sitting here wondering:
WHY DOES SHE HAVE A CABBAGE?
And you are right. That is exactly why I have a cabbage.
Huh?
Yes. I have a cabbage today so that you will wonder why I have a cabbage.

There is an author named David McCullough who believes that the most important difference between cabbages and us is the fact that we wonder why. Cabbages don’t wonder about anything. We, though, are curious about the world around us. We wonder why this and we wonder why that. And when we are curious about one mystery, that usually leads us to ask questions about another mystery. And when we ask the questions of who, what, when, where, how, and why, we seek answers; and when we seek answers, we grow in awe of God’s amazing and mysterious world.

Our Bible story today has a perfect verse for this. In Psalm 111, we hear the words: The awe of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. We are told that being curious, that wondering about the world’s mysteries, that asking questions, that being amazed by God, that being in awe of the Lord…is the beginning of wisdom.

This Sunday we prepare for the beginning of a new school year by lifting up our curiosity about God’s world and asking God to be with us on our journey to wisdom. With a new school year, we have many mysteries to wonder: I wonder who will be in your classes and who will be your new friends; I wonder what great books you will discover;  I wonder what exciting things will happen; I wonder what questions will be answered. Each morning, you will get up, and grab your backpack, and go to school, and wonder about things, and ask questions, and learn something new. And because God made you to be curious, you are exactly what God made you to be: a wonder-filled part of God’s amazing world, made to enjoy God and all of the world’s mysteries. You are more than a cabbage – you are a child of God!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it back.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for questions.
Thank You
for answers.
Be with me
as I wonder,
as I ask questions,
as I seek answers,
as I am amazed
that I might be
eager to learn more
and be full of wisdom
about Your wonder-filled world.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
(Be curious!)

The Eraser Sermon

for Sunday, August 5, 2012
10th Sunday after Pentecost
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 13
lectionary focus: Psalm 51:1-12
prop: a pencil
note: While my Blessing of the Backpacks 2012 is scheduled for August 19, this sermon can be easily altered to fit that celebration. Today I focus on the eraser, but for Backpacks you can look at the whole pencil. There are many versions of the Pencil Sermon found throughout the Internet. (The year we used it, we gave each child a pencil with our church’s name on it.)

Good Morning!

The other day, I found a box of pencils at my house. You probably have lots of pencils around your house, too. We use pencils to write and draw. They are a common tool. But behind every good pencil, is an eraser. We use erasers to remove mistakes and improve our work. Maybe we misspell something or maybe we get a better idea. The eraser lets us start fresh and make our writing better.

But what about other mistakes…big mistakes in our lives…maybe we hurt someone’s feelings or break a rule? How do we erase that? How do we start fresh and make our lives better?

Well, have you ever noticed that in order to use the eraser at the top of a pencil, we have to flip the pencil bringing the top down low? Likewise, in order to erase our pain when we make mistakes, we must lower our heads. When we bow our heads and ask God for forgiveness, the pain of our mess-ups is removed and we continue walking in the joy of  the Lord.

Our Bible story today reminds us that by recognizing our errors and taking them to God, we in turn receive His forgiveness. God will create in us a clean heart and a right spirit.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for Your love.
Thank You
for erasing the pain of my mistakes.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Blessing of the Backpacks 2011

9th Sunday after Pentecost RCL Year A
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 15
for Sunday, August 14, 2011
lectionary focus: Matthew 10: 15-20

(Note: You don’t have to have a special service for blessing backpacks to use this sermon, but for our church, this is an annual event where we invite the children to bring their backpacks with them to the chancel steps. Parents bring diaper bags and brief cases, too! Everyone gets into the back-to-school excitement.)

Welcome! Today is a special celebration that we call the Blessing of the Backpacks. Many of us are starting a new school year and today we call on God to be with us throughout our learning. We have spent the last few days of summer doing our reading assignments; finding out our teachers’s names and who is in our classes; maybe getting a new outfit or new shoes.  And we’ve done our back-to-school shopping to load our backpacks with supplies: pens, markers, crayons, pencils, erasers, glue, notebooks, paper–all sorts of tools that we might use in class. Now we have all of the things we need for an excellent school year.
We are ready to learn!

But you know, having a backpack full of tools is not what will make this a good school year; these things will not make us a good student. We are good students when our hearts and minds are packed and ready. Ready to ask questions, to try, to share, to explore. It is when we have packed the right attitude in our hearts that we are ready to learn!

In our Bible story today, Jesus is teaching. He is teaching the disciples that it is not the things they have that are important; there are no right things that make them special. Jesus teaches that it is the feelings and thoughts they have in their hearts that matter. Jesus says when love and kindness and sharing come out of our hearts, we are doing good work as God’s children.

Yes, today is called the Blessing of the Backpacks, but we are not asking God to fill our backpacks with special powers; we are asking God fill our hearts so that during the school year we are ready to share His special love to all those around us. Each morning as you are getting your backpack ready, remember also to get your heart ready and to fill it with the important tools of God’s love and kindness.

With our prayer today, I will say a part and when I raise my hands, you do the same and say, Lord, fill my heart.

Let’s us pray:

Heavenly Father, You provide for all our needs with backpacks full of books and pencils and lunches.

Lord, fill my heart.

You guide us on our journey leading us to learn and grow.

Lord, fill my heart.

You love us always no matter what.

Lord, fill my heart.

Let us share Your love at school, at work, at play, at home.

Lord, fill my heart.

And together we say, Amen.