Many churches had their kick off celebrations this past Sunday. Some are waiting until this coming Sunday to mark the big day when everything goes back to normal. All of the programming starts up again for the kids and adults. Anything that took a break over the summer months in our congregational life is ready to get going again. Some call it Rally Day. For others it is Homecoming Sunday or even Kick Off Sunday.
It is a big day that involves a lot of work. Much of that work goes into recruiting the right people to offer the love and support to make all of these programs work. It is recruiting that involves a lot of phone calls and cups of coffee to figure out if this particular act of love is the one that is calling right now. Teaching, especially in Sunday School, is always an act of love. It is a huge commitment not just to prepare lesson plans and show up every Sunday you’re on the schedule, but a commitment to journey into your own faith, to grow and be changed as you learn together.
It is why I do not miss the chance to bless our teachers when all of that programming begins. I do not limit the invitation. I invite everyone that has chosen to answer the call to discipleship. I ask the youth leaders and the bible study leaders. I invite the people on the committee and those stocking the supply closet and providing snacks to come forward not only to be blessed but to remember that they are not alone in this work. It takes a village which is why this blessing begins with talk of covenants.
Blessing of Teachers
One: A covenant is a promise we make together to before God. Covenants remind us to love and support each another. When we start new things, like another year in Sunday School, we make promises to grow and learn together as disciples of Jesus.
Every one – parents, children, teachers, and people too old for Sunday School – has a part in making these promises to blessing and encourage each other. Together, we make promises to God so that we can all grow together in faith and love. First, we ask the children to make their promises. Please echo my words:
Thank you God, for our Sunday School.
Thank you for the gift of Jesus,
Who teaches us so many things.
We are excited about Sunday School
And hope to learn more about You
From our teachers, our substitutes, and our whole church family
Each and every day.
Parents and Congregation: We love our children. We will encourage them to live in the way of Christ. We will join with them in studying God’s Word. We will try our best to grow with them in faith. And we will support the work of our Church School with our time, our talent, our treasure and our prayers.
Teachers: We will walk with God and with the children and youth of our congregation. We will work together and with God’s help, we will do our best to learn, to live, and to teach the way of Christ.
One: We do not only make promises together today. We share in blessings. The laying on of hands is the symbolic act where the church recognizes God’s call to ministry in the lives of faithful people and asks the Holy Spirit to give them the courage they need. The Holy Spirit gave the ministry of teaching to the church in its earliest days. It has always been one of the most important ministries of believers. And so, we lay hands upon you, our teachers, and bless you to do the work that God has called you to.
Ask everyone to touch the shoulder of the person in front of and/or near them, people in front pews and children in chancel and ministers lay hands on teachers, so everyone’s connected to someone else. Once everyone is connected, pray these words aloud.
One: Eternal God, you have called these faithful people to serve you as teachers. Send your Holy Spirit upon them so that they can do this work in the fullness of your love. May all that we learn goethe in this year teach us more and more about your grace and hope. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Allow this moment of blessing to lead right into the Passing of the Peace so that hugs and handshakes might extend the blessing of this moment. You’ll notice, of course, that this particular liturgy refers to teachers and only teachers. I adapt this to include all of the appropriate titles (even if there is no appropriate title.)
Check back for more Ingredients for Worship next Tuesday and don’t forget to share what you’ve cooked up in the comments below!
I would be particularly interested to hear from those that attend churches that have ditched Sunday School and embraced other faith formation models. How do you bless the leaders that do this good work in your church? Would this liturgy even work or does it assume an old model? I would love to hear from you!