Virtual Blessing of the Backpacks & Devices

Hi friends!

I don’t know about you all, but it feels like so many of my liturgy resources are irrelevant right now.  In fairness, who knew we would have to think about blessing things like masks, face shields and devices for virtual learning.  Alas … here we are in 2020.

My church always does a backpack blessing on Rally Day where the kids bring their backpacks to church and we put tags on them and bless them for the year ahead.  Since we are still doing virtual worship we can’t have kids bring their backpacks to us, so we decided instead to bless the tags and also stickers that can go on their devices.  As soon as worship is over, we will distribute the tags (either through the mail or by dropping them off).  I wrote a simple blessing for the occasion that can very easily be adapted into another setting.  We are doing the blessing this weekend, but I figured I would post the liturgy now in case anyone is frantically googling “virtual device blessing” and needs to either use this or adapt it!

Sending you all virtual hugs!

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BLESSING OF THE BACKPACKS & DEVICES
Rev. Sarah Weaver

INTRODUCTION
Today we have, before us, tags and stickers that will be placed on backpacks and devices in preparation for the upcoming school year.  This school year will look different than in years past.  There will be masks, distancing and virtual learning.  Everyone is nervous, anxious and unsure of what the year will bring.  But there is one thing we do know for certain:  God’s presence will be steadfast.  No one will walk into a school or log onto a device alone.  God will be with them always.

SCRIPTURE
1 Chronicles 16:34-36
34 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
35Say also:
‘Save us, O God of our salvation,
and gather and rescue us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.
36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.’
Then all the people said ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord.

AFFIRMATION OF BACKPACK TAGS AND DEVICE STICKERS
These tags will be affixed to backpacks.  Backpacks that will carry work to be done, work to be returned, books to be read and school supplies to be used throughout the day.  Backpacks that will carry masks and hand sanitizer.  Backpacks that will be carried into buildings that have, for the most part, remained empty since March.
We lift to you these tags, O God.
Some days, the backpacks these tags will hang on will be heavy and difficult to carry.  Some days, they will be light and nearly empty.
We lift to you the backpacks these tags will hang on, O God.
These stickers will be affixed to devices.  Devices that will be used to bring school into students’ homes.  Devices that will create spaces for students to see, hear and learn from their teachers despite the fact that they are unable to be in the same building as them.  Devices that will allow students to submit assignments and receive feedback.
We lift to you these stickers, O God.
Some days the devices these stickers will cling to will be problematic and glitchy, causing the person using them to want to throw them through a window.  Some days, they will run smoothly and efficiently.
We lift to you the devices these stickers will cling to, O God.
So whether the recipients of these blessing tags and stickers are attending school in person, through virtual learning or with a hybrid model, may they know they are surrounded in our prayers, held up by our love and strengthened by God’s steadfast presence.
O God, bless these tags and stickers as they are distributed to our students.  In receiving them, may they be reminded that their church family loves them and is praying for them.

PRAYER OF BLESSING
Almighty and most merciful God, we lift to you these tags and stickers, the backpacks and devices they will be attached to and, perhaps most importantly, the students that will carry them.
Bless them in the moments when they are stressed and anxious.
Bless them in the moments when they are excited by what they are learning.
Bless them in the moments of technical difficulty.
Bless them in the moments of PPE-wearing, sanitizing and disinfecting.
Bless the school year ahead of us.  Amidst unconventional circumstances, may wisdom be shared, may patience prevail and may grace be uncovered along the way. Amen.

Liturgy For Rally Day & The Beatitudes

We kicked off our program year while simultaneously kicking off a 12-week sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount and I wrote the liturgy we used.  I wasn’t expecting this, but the congregation actually started giggling during the Call to Worship when they realized that I had used a play on the Beatitudes to highlight Rally Day.  It was a fun way to weave the Beatitudes into worship from the very beginning.  For those of you on the lectionary – you’re moving into year A next year, so the Beatitudes will be February 2, 2020, which is Super Bowl Sunday.  It might be fun to find a way to integrate the two (the Beatitudes with football fans, players, halftime show performers, people that work at the stadium, etc.) on that Sunday, as well.

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CALL TO WORSHIP • The Beatitudes, Rally Day
Rev. Sarah Weaver

When Jesus saw the crowds he went up the mountain;
and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
Then he began to speak, and taught them saying:
Blessed are the people who gather to worship on Rally Day,
for their hearts will be filled with the Spirit.
Blessed are the children,
for their minds will be opened to learn.
Blessed are the choir members,
for they will experience God through music.
Blessed are the committee members,
for they will find wholeness through service.
Blessed are the staff members,
for they will uncover grace in the most unexpected ways and places.
Blessed are all the members of this church,
for their voices will come together to proclaim the Good News of God’s love.
A new year is upon us:
Let us worship God!

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PRAYER OF CONFESSION • The Beatitudes, Rally Day
Rev. Sarah Weaver

God, we are so happy to be together today; to see our church family, to feel the buzz of a new year and to dream about what the year might bring. We confess, however, that the flexibility of summer has caused us to fall out of some of our routines. We have missed opportunities to center ourselves in prayer, to serve and to be in community. We have forgotten that we are your blessed children, called to be in community and to bear witness to your love. Remind us, O God, that we are your children, the Body of Christ. Help us to set goals for the year and re-center our lives on you so our year can be an outward expression of your love. Amen.

 

 

Prayer Of Confession • Resurrection

This is the Prayer of Confession we used for our last Sunday in the Year of Mark, the longer ending.  I love the line about God’s work never being finished. This would be a great prayer for Easter Sunday or the Easter Sunday.

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PRAYER OF CONFESSION • RESURRECTION • MARK (LONGER ENDING
Rev. Sarah Weaver

Powerful and life-giving God, we give you thanks as we gather today for a faith that is grounded in light, love and grace; for a story that reminds us, again and again, that your work is never finished. Yet we confess, O God, that there are moments in our lives when we feel as though the story might be finished. Help us hold onto the redeeming truth of the Gospel and proclaim that truth to the world. Amen.