In some places it’s back-to-school time, so we are super grateful today for Jessica Hainley sharing some ideas for back-to-school Sunday! In other places it’s the one millionth week in John 6, or in the story of David, or in the letter to the Ephesians, and Sarah Agnew has you covered! Whether you are having worship online (again) or in person with more people (as we can now in Scotland) or fewer people and less singing (as is happening in some parts of the US), you are welcome to use or adapt these liturgical pieces, or to be inspired by them to write your own. Please give credit in print or in video descriptions, though verbal attribution isn’t necessary.

Call to Worship by Jessica Hainley

One: We come to worship today to celebrate the many learners and educators in our midst.
All: We remember Jesus as the greatest teacher – teaching many, wherever he was
One: And as Jesus taught the many, he called them each by name
All: We remember, no matter what is taught – the way people make us feel, the way we make others feel in the midst of learning – can be just as important as what we are learning
One: Jesus made sure, no matter what he was teaching, that people knew they were loved. Let us celebrate that teaching, here and now, as we share the peace of Christ with one another. Celebrating God’s presence with each and every one of us gathered, or scattered, today.
The peace of Christ be with you.

 

Breathing Meditation//Time of Centering by Jessica Hainley
One: For our breathing meditation today, I invite you to get in a prayerful pose – whatever that may look like for you, and to have your body in a comfortable position.
Allow yourself to relax your shoulders, and breathe in the Divine with us. Emmanuel.
God, through the ages, you have taught so many people.
You taught fishermen to be fishers of people.
You taught sailors what it meant to calm a storm.
You have been, and still are – our teacher, O God.
In this space, we reflect on this past week a moment where we felt your presence at work in our midst. Teaching us, guiding us, loving us.
We remember how you, O God, in the form of Jesus Christ, invited in the children in to learn from you. To be fully present.
We name in the stillness of this moment, a time in this week where we felt fully present with you, O God. Sitting, listening, learning – embracing You in our daily lives.
We recall a time, when like Jesus in the wilderness, we may have felt tested. Not in the traditional sense of testing, O God – but tested in our faith.
We name in the stillness of this moment the times where we wanted to act out in haste instead of love. To respond in angered tones, rather than with words of compassion. To just get out of the wilderness of continued learning.
God, allow us to hand over these burdens we carry with us. Grant us peace in the anxieties we may be experiencing.
Calm the storms, which You, O God, know exactly how to handle.
In moments when the classroom may seem like the ship getting tossed about in the storm, remind us you are with us – O God. Bring us back to center. Breathe your life-giving spirit, your loving spirit, into us – so we can share that love with all of those whom we are called to serve.
In the times when it is easier to blurt out an answer, call on us – by name, O God – call on us to respond to You.
We breathe in together, each being called by name, each being an instrument of peace.
Amen.

 

Back to School Blessing by Jessica Hainley

At this time we invite all of the learners, teachers, educators, to come up front to receive a blessing.
God, we pray for the learners – the ones who are learning things for the very first time, and for the ones who are sharing all they have learned with so many.
We pray you be with each of our learners on their journey of education. Bring laughter to all of their days. Bring fun to moments when knowledge is shared. As tests are taken and given, remind them that You are with them – bring comfort and peace. Bring hope, and joy.
God, be with all of our learners as they go back to their places of learning this fall. We rejoice in them and all the knowledge they share with us. Amen.
And, as our learners go back to learning this fall, we want to make sure their bellies are filled for their times of learning. So, today, we give each of our learners a snack pack of faith! Whenever you snack on these snacks, be reminded that there is a whole community of people praying for you, cheering you on, and who believes in you!
And for our educators – we know you might need to buy a few extra snacks for your students – so we also want to give you a little something to help out with that.
Let us celebrate our learners by sharing the lunchbox notes we wrote for them at this time.

 

Backpack Blessing by Teri Peterson

Dear God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for these backpacks, reminding us of new things to learn, new friends to meet, new opportunities to exercise the gifts you’ve given us.
Lord, teach us, and help us to learn.
God, thank you for these children, heading into a year of growth and learning and excitement. Remind them that as they go into this year, whether they are scared or excited or hopeful, or maybe even all of those things, that you go with them. Help them to practice the things they learn here, the things they learn at home, and the things they learn at school, so they can always be doing your work wherever they are.
Lord, teach us, and help us to learn.
God, thank you for these teachers, staff people, administrators, Sunday School teachers—for everyone who helps educate your children. Give them strength and courage and enthusiasm for this work you have given them, and patience, wisdom, and a sense of humour as they go about that work. Be with them as they seek to help, nurture, love, and encourage, that they might know that all that they do is YOUR work.
Lord, teach us, and help us to learn.
Go with us into this new year, God, and help us as we practice your love. Make us each day into your people.
Lord, teach us, and help us to learn.
Amen.

 

Who else but you?’ a statement of faith or commitment based on John 6:56–69 by Sarah Agnew

To whom can we go?
Though you speak wisdom
we cannot understand
or accept, which spins
our heads, till dizzying,
we stumble and fall –

To whom can we go?
Though others mock and scorn
this foolish way, this
nonsense giving away of love
and life as if it has no end – to whom

can we go, though our fellow
travellers on your path
will leave us, leave you,
offended, upended, beyond
all bearing? O, Jesus,

to whom can we go
for words of eternal life,
for embodiment of Holy One –
to whom, if not to you?

 

‘Pray in the Spirit’, a commissioning and blessing based on Ephesians 6:18–24 by Sarah Agnew

Keep alert and pray always in the Spirit.
Pray for each other to have courage
in bearing witness to the mysteries of the Divine.

May the peace of the Spirit be with the whole community,
May you receive love and faith from Jesus the Christ,
and may the Creator’s grace be with all who love Holy One.
Amen.

 

‘Praise of the Beloved Children’ based on Ephesians 4:25–5:2, by Sarah Agnew

Fragrant offering of love,
gift of your own life,
Jesus, our Holy Christ, we thank you.

Source of grace and kindness,
inspiration for our living,
Spirit, our Holy Breath, we praise you.

Giver of life, and love, and all,
eternal forgiver, eternal home,
Creator, our Holy Parent, we adore you.

And so we come, as we are,
children of the Divine, beloved,
to worship you with all we are.

Amen.

 

‘A Prayer like Paul’s’, for the church based on Ephesians 1:15–23

We pray for your church,
Holy One, descendants
of those to whom Paul wrote.

May your church and its people
live faithful to the Way of Jesus the Christ,
show love for each other,
be grateful for each other,
pray for one another always.

Give to your church and its people
your Spirit of Wisdom, and may we
accept this gift, this presence,
this Way, wholeheartedly.

Help us to live with hope,
trust in your empowerment,
and share these gifts with the world.

May your church and its people
proclaim the good news of life
in all its fulness, proclaimed by Christ
in his living, his death, his
return to life.

May your church and its people
be known by the world to be
the body of Christ, embodying
his Way of Love, Peace, Justice,
enacting hope and trust in you,
Holy One, Holy Three,
Parent, Wisdom, Spirit
incarnate in Jesus the Christ.
Amen.


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