Monday, August 12, 2013

We are beginning a series on Second Sundays of each month featuring guest speakers from our community who share ways we can be more engaged in working for the betterment of our larger community.  We then give a donation to the community organization. Because we annually collect a special offering of school supplies for local school children who wouldn’t otherwise have the notebooks and backpacks and other supplies necessary to start the school year, our guest speaker yesterday was a representative of the Mobile Area Education Foundation (www.maef.net). Ms.Janell Finley offered many ways we as a congregation and as individuals can volunteer in our public schools. Below is part of yesterday’s liturgy from a service dedicated to honoring God’s wisdom and caring for ALL of our children.

CALL TO WORSHIP,   adapted from Psalm 107: 1-15

One:   We gather as a people who hunger and thirst not only to know more but to do better.  We gather in the name of the Source of Wisdom and Truth.

People: We are thankful for God’s steadfast love, for God’s wonderful works to enlighten the world.

One:   Let the redeemed say so, those redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in the desert wastes of ignorance; some hungered and thirsted for knowledge and truth for their minds and spirits.  They cried out for help.

People: We are thankful for God’s steadfast love, for God’s wonderful works toenlighten the world.

One:   Their hearts were bowed down; their minds were closed off to new hopes.  Then they cried to God, who saved them with a bright vision. Divine Truth shined a light on a new path out of darkness and gloom and broke their bonds asunder.

People: We are thankful for God’s steadfast love, for God’s wonderful works toenlighten the world. 

One:   As a new school year approaches, we pray a special blessing for the students in this community who face new challenges and await new learnings.  We also pray for the teachers and parents whose daily responsibility it is to guide and instruct those who carry tomorrow’s hope.  May we recommit ourselves to prayerfully and   actively support children everywhere.

OPENING PRAYER                                                                                                    

O God, teach us to love all of your children: the motivated and the misguided, the bullies and the bullied, the favored and the forgotten.  Teach us how to teach them so that they may grow intellectually, physically, and spiritually.  Help us support and appreciate those under-appreciated professionals who have committed their lives to educate the next generation.  Help us to be knowledgeable about our public schools and thus better able to support their aims and constructively work for improvements.  We pray in the name of Rabbi Jesus, who teaches us still.  Amen.

SONG                             “Strong, Gentle Children”                           TWILIGHT

            Strong, gentle children, God made you beautiful,

            gave you the wisdom and power you need.

            Speak in the stillness all you are longing for;

            Live out your calling to love and to lead.

            Strong, knowing children, utter your cry aloud;

            Honor the wisdom God gave you at birth.

            Speak to your elders till they have heard your voice;

            Sing out your vision of healing on earth.

Dan Damon. ©1993 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved.  Reprinted under OneLicense.net A-718273.

BLESSING OF STUDENTS, PARENTS, TEACHERS

Pastor: Jesus was brought to the Temple as a child. There Simeon blessed him and his parents as the prophet Anna praised God.  Scripture says that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him”(Luke 2:22-52). Here, too, is a sacred place where children feel blessed by God, are encouraged to pursue wisdom, and find support from a loving community to become instruments of blessing for others.  We mark the start of a new school year to pray for our young people and commit ourselves to supporting our children and youth, their families, and their teachers.

Families who are guiding these young people, will you recommit yourselves to providing these students both the encouragement and accountability they need to succeed in their intellectual and spiritual formation?  Will you work for healthy communication and cooperation with your child’s school?  Will you recognize the potential within your children?  Will you provide them the love and model for them the self-discipline they will need for that potential to be realized?

Parents and family members:  We will.

Pastor:  Teachers who are educating these young people, you who teach within

our schools or in this congregation, will you recommit yourselves to enlightening young minds and ennobling young hearts?  Will you speak hope to the dispirited and inspire excellence in all?  Will you let your life be the clearest lesson of all?

Teachers:  We will.

Pastor:  Students, look around you and see all these who are praying for you and committing to support you as you strive to grow into God’s fullness for your life.  Will you honor God’s good gifts to you by developing your minds, bodies, and spirits?

Students:  We will.

Pastor:  Congregation, you who are like extended family to these students, will you encourage our teachers, parents, and children? Will you lend your wisdom and support, your time and your patience, your prayers and your resources to the communal work of guiding young people?  Will you further commit to recognizing that all children in our wider community are our children? Will you seek ways to support quality education for every student?

Congregation:  We will. 

Pastor:  May God bless all of us in the many ways each of us learns and teaches.

Category Prayer, Scripture
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