As children and youth get ready for the return to school, Blessing the Backpacks (or school bags) is a way for the church to acknowledge something big is happening in their lives and the family is making a shift.
Recognizing the flow of families’ lives allows the church to be seen as a relevant place in their lives and as a resource beyond the box that takes place within the parish’s walls. By this action, we encourage faith to be seen as part of our lives at school.
On the Sunday before the start of school, at the principal service (or family service), we call all the children to the front. A few words are said acknowledging the change in the flow of their lives and then we ask them to raise their backpacks. We remind them that God is with them wherever they go and that we are a family and they are with us even at school. A prayer for courage, wisdom, and faith is said over the backpacks and completed with a blessing. A gift is then handed out for the children to place on their backpacks.
I give out luggage tags with the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and a picture on one side and then a Bible verse or prayer on the other. The luggage tags are sealed so they will last the whole year. I use an inexpensive Luggage Tag Maker that I got from Amazon and the tags with the cord also come from Amazon.
To decide what goes on it, we ask the youth for ideas and choose one of their designs. We will use the luggage tag throughout the year in our Newcomers’ Welcome Bags.
We spread the word about the Blessing of Backpacks in our community and invite anyone to come. We encourage our children and youth to bring their friends. We usually have a very large group.
We follow up the service with some hospitality and encourage all to stay after the service and join us.
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