Back to school time is fast approaching where I live. In churches, this time of year (often) means a return to regular schedules. Any group that takes a break for the summer is getting ready to start again. When I think about the children and youth of the church, I am always aware of our responsibilities to them. We promise in the baptismal covenant with these words.
“Do you, who witness and celebrate this sacrament, promise your love, support and care to the one about to be baptized as he/she lives and grows in Christ?
Congregational Response- We promise our love, support, and care.”
(United Church of Christ Book of Worship, 139).
We promise in our Safe Sanctuary covenant to protect our children and youth as we help them live into the baptismal promises. As the new school and program year begins, I think churches should welcome and celebrate this time of year, and we can do that by sharing this prayer.
One-I’d like to invite all of our children and youth to please come up front. If you would sit or stand facing the congregation. We’d like you to be able to see all those adults out there.
(after the children and youth are up front)
Today, we are going to pray for you as summer ends and a new year of school and church begins. You may have already started back to school or may not be in school yet. You may be changing to a new Sunday School class or starting youth group for the first time this year. As so many things in our lives change, some things do not change. All of those people out there have promised to help you grow and know God loves you.
I invite the teachers to stand. Anyone who teaches here at church, youth group leaders, and teachers in our schools please stand.
Teachers-Dear God, we surround these children and youth with our love and support for the coming year. Give them a spirit of curiosity. Give them time to play and learn outside in your creation. Give them a sense of wonder at how much they know and how much there is to learn. Give all of us who teach a spirit of compassion as we journey with our students. Amen.
One-Teachers remain standing. Parents and guardians please stand.
Parents and Guardians-Loving God, give us patience on hard days. Remind us you love our children even more than we do. Give our kids a spirit of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. Give our kids strength to stand up for what is right. May they always know how much you love them and we love them. Amen.
One-Parents, guardians, and teachers keep standing. Now, I invite the rest of the congregation and any of our guest to stand.
All-God, remind us of the promises we made to protect and love these children and youth. Help us to live those promises daily. Bless all these children and youth that they may know your love and share it with others. We promise to keep these children safe, give them opportunities to know you, and involve them in the life of the church with God’s help. Amen.
One-Look out at all those people who love you and have prayed for you. I hope you will remember how much your church family loves you and how much God loves you as we start a new year together.
Submitted by Susannah deBenedetto
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