The idea for this family prayer time comes from several muses. First, I’m doing a blessing of the backpacks this week as kids in our area are heading back to school. Second, I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate prayer and Bible reading at home. (To mixed results. Please do not think that this goes perfectly!) Third, Cindy Brandt shared this liturgy from David R. Henson and I was inspired by his reminder that we need to honor both the joys and the difficulties of going back to school.
So I’m offering this up for you to use however you see fit. Say the prayers in your own words. Choose different Bible readings. Ask different questions. There is no right way to pray, be family, or “do church.”
- Candle, campfire or backyard firepit
- Bible, if you prefer your own version or want different verses
- Conversation sticks (below)
- Ingredients for s’mores
Ahead of time, create conversation sticks. Use popsicle sticks and write one question on each:
- What are you looking forward to this year?
- What are you nervous about right now?
- What were you most proud of last school year?
- What goals (personal, academic, sports, home) do you have for this year?
- What would make this year easier for you?
- What friends are you looking forward to seeing?
- What have you heard about _____ grade? (fill in with entering grade level)
- What is your favorite memory from this summer?
Begin by lighting a candle or gathering around the fire.
Read Isaiah 65:17-19:
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
Say, “The book of Isaiah is about God’s promise to the Israelites, who were living in exile. They had been conquered and didn’t have a land of their own to live in. God promises them that they will be returned to their land. Even though we don’t live in that time, we still read this passage to remember that God is always working.”
Have each family member (even adults) draw a conversation stick from the jar and share their answer. If needed, remind everyone that all answers are good answers.
“God of new beginnings, you know that every new adventure comes with both excitement and fear. Tonight we lift up all of our joy and our anxiety to you. Guide our path this year. Bless us with new friends, joyful learning, kind teachers and wise parents. And when times get tough, when we’re overwhelmed by tests and homework, our friends are unfriendly or our parents impatient remind us that you are with us. Amen.”
Say, “No matter what happens this year, remember this promise from Romans 8:37-38. ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We can trust that God is with us all as you go back to school this year. Amen.”
Finish with s’mores.