Liturgies and prayer often mark moments of transition. Baptism, marriage, confirmation, and reconciliation are examples of that. What about beginning the new school year? It also is a time of transition. The new year represents growth and change; moving to a new classroom, school, or town; more responsibility and maturity. Below is one possibility for a blessing of the backpacks and a prayer for the start of the new school year.
As the student enters the church she or he places her or his backpack around the altar rail. At the set time the Officiant calls the students forward and asks:
Officiant: Whose backpacks are these?
Students: N. (Each student calls out his or her name)
Officiant: (To the congregation) Will you fill the backpacks of these students with your love, prayers, and support?
People: We will.
At the age of twelve Jesus was found “in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46).
V. I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go (Ps. 32:1);
R. That you may gain wisdom for the future. (Prov. 19:20).
Let us pray:
God of wisdom and knowledge, enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn. Make the schools of our community lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom.
We thank you for teachers and administrators. Continually renew and affirm in them a sense of calling to the sacred vocation of teaching. Give them loving hearts, wise minds, strong spirits, and a passion for their students. Fill them with joy, sustain and strengthen them, and give them rest when they are weary. Let them trust the seeds they plant even when they do not see the harvest. Let them hear deep within themselves your words, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant.”
We thank you for each student, their life among us, and the future before them. Lead them in your way, your truth, and your life. Let each classroom they enter be a place of life and light, warmth and welcome, discovery and growth. Give them good friends and let be good friends for others. Set them at tasks which demand their best efforts, and lead them to accomplishments which satisfy and delight. Let them not take failures and disappointments as a measure of their worth but as opportunities for new learning and new beginnings. Open their hearts to life and their minds to learning. Let Holy Wisdom be their companion.
Send your holy angels to stand guard and keep watch over all students and teachers. Let their names be always on the lips of your saints in prayer. Bless and keep them. Let your face shine upon them. Be gracious to them. Lift up your countenance upon them, and give them peace.
Accept and bless these backpacks to be for those who carry them a sign of your and our love, support, and presence.
All this we ask in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.