Transitions-Back To School Prayer

For most of us, the last few weeks of summer are full of activities. We are trying to have just a few more picnics at the beach, finally see friends we swore we would see as soon as summer began, enjoy a lovely evening of song and delight at Ravinia, or visit one more water park. For others of us, it is a time to begin putting away the pool toys, start shopping for school supplies, register for after school activities, find out who our child's teacher will be, or begin to settle down into our regular routines. Regardless of where we find ourselves as August ends and September begins, all of us find these next few weeks to be ones of transition.

In my family, transition can be both exciting and unsettling all at the same time. As much as we might be excited about what comes next for us, we also tend to grieve a bit about what we are leaving behind. It is at these moments that leaning into our faith and relationship with God can be most helpful. Instead of rushing through a time of transition, try slowing down a bit, naming how you are feeling, and help your child name that, too. The more aware we are of ourselves in each transition moment of life, the more easily we can find God in the midst of it all.

Going back to school is certainly one of these transition times. To help you and your child or grandchild prepare for this significant event try the following family devotional. Sharing devotions as a family is one of the four keys for deepening our faith and the faith or our children (for more on practicing faith with our children consider ***). It is in devotional times that we stop, listen, and pay attention to ourselves, one another, and God. Please feel free to adapt this devotional to meet the needs of your family and loved ones. The following is a tool to help lead toward deeper awareness, love, and grace.

Blessing for the New School Year
(The following blessing is adapted from a rite found in For Everything a Season, 75 Blessings for Daily Life by The Nilsen Family and published by Zion. This book is one of my favorite resources for finding family rituals. Enjoy!)

Preparation: this blessing is designed for the week before, the night prior to, the morning of the first day of school. Gather in a favorite room in your home. Have your child(ren) place his/her backpack, tote bag, and other supplies in the center of the room. In addition, have ready a small Christian symbol (a cross, photo of a dove, drawing of some kind, key chain) that can fit in or on the bag. Finally, fill a small bowl with warm water and have it ready as well.
Gather around the supplies. Repeat the following, prayer, text, ritual action, and blessing for each child.
Welcome (read by one family member): For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. Welcome to the time of change, excitement and new opportunities.
Prayer (read by another family member if possible): Gracious God, you have promised to keep us safe and holy. Be present with (name) during this time of preparation for school. Give (name) an open and eager mind. Protect all your children from temptation, and guide them with your love.
Bible Text (read by another family member): (Name), the Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore. Ps 121:8
Reflection: All members of the family take turns sharing their thoughts and feelings about the new school year by finishing the following sentences:
I am scared about....
I am worried about....
I am excited about....
I am curious about....
Ritual Action: Parents and others not beginning school dip their finger in the bowl of water and make the sign of the cross on the forehead of the child going to school while saying: (Name), Christ is with you wherever you go.
Then have the child going to school place his/her hand on his/her own heart and say: Thank you God for being with me.
Finally, give the child the small Christian symbol and have him/her place it in his/her bag as an ongoing reminder that Christ is always present.
Song: Sing the following song together. As You Go On Your Way
Blessing (said by one family member): (Name), may the love of Jesus be with you on your first day of school and throughout the year. I/we love you. Amen.

***For other resources to use as a family consider or