Blessing of the Backpacks


Several people asked me for the text of last Sunday’s “Blessing of the Backpacks.” Here it is:

Tomorrow thousands of children from across Houston will return to school. Today, we bless the children and youth from our community as they start the school year. And so, at this time, I would like to invite all of the children who are starting, or have started, their school year to come forward. Whether you are entering kindergarten or starting your senior year, whether you go to public school, private school, or are homeschooled, I hope you will come up at this time. I would like to especially invite forward our middle school and high school youth. If you brought your backpack or bag, please bring it with you. And if you did not bring it, come up anyway.

Please have a seat. Carol is giving you each a card that you can place in your backpack, tie to its outside, or use as a bookmark. It is a thing to remind you of this church and the love that people here have for you while you are in school.

You will see three symbols on your card. There is a peace sign, a love sign, and a chalice. Each of these symbols represents a wish that we have for your school year. We want you to have a safe and peaceful year. School should be a place where you can learn and grow without having to worry about harm. And so, there is a peace sign.

The heart represents love. Throughout the year, we want you to know that you are loved by this community. One of the wonderful things about belonging to a church is that adults other than your parents, family, and teachers care about you and want you to succeed. And so, this year, if you are struggling with school, and want someone to help you, know that there is an adult in this church who you can go to and ask for help.

The chalice represents two things. It represents our Unitarian Universalist church and it represents the light of truth. In school we want you to learn and grow so that you can be thoughtful, wise, and knowledgeable adults. We want this because seeking truth is at the core of our Unitarian Universalist faith.

And now,
I invite you to join me in a brief prayer,
please close your eyes,
if you are comfortable,
reach out to grab the hand of someone near you.

Oh, spirit of life,
that some of us call God,
and others of know by a diversity of names,
be with the children of this church,
and all of the children of our city,
as they start their new school year.

Bless them with safety,
bless them with love,
bless them with knowledge,
and bless them with curiosity.

And let them leave this chancel,
knowing that they are held by the love
of this religious community
during the school year,
and throughout the days of their lives.

Let the congregation say Amen.

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