Pentecost -- Ordinary Time -- Service Prayers
For All who Teach and Learn:
Dedication of the New School Year
Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one's inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.
–Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach
Call to Worship (from Proverbs 1:20-33; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 19)
One: Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
All: I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you!
One: Those who listen will be secure and will live at ease; for the tongue of a teacher can sustain the weary with a word.
Left Side: As lifelong teachers, God continually wakens our ears so that we may listen and learn from the Spirit.
Right Side: As lifelong learners, God grants us wisdom and knowledge in every waking moment.
All: God’s words revive the souls of all who teach and learn!
Unison Prayer of Invocation
Wise Owl God,
you see beyond us into the depths of our faith
and lead us, teachers and learners all,
into the wonderful mystery of your love.
As leaves on the trees and daily temperatures both begin to drop,
we celebrate the beginning of a new school year.
Guide us, we pray, on an adventure of hope, and
help us use the arts of teaching and learning
in the service of your justice and peace.
As we commission our teachers and students today,
help us recall and give thanks for the spiritual teachers in our own lives
who practiced such care with our minds and our souls.
In the name of Jesus, our Teacher, we pray: Amen.
At times, we have been careless with our words and actions when others were looking to us for right teaching.
Many times, we have not listened to God’s words, either by intentional choice, or as a result of indifference.
Too often we ignore the state of education in our world today; we refuse to acknowledge or to take just action in the wake of high dropout rates and unequal access to educational resources for our children and youth.
Assurance of Pardon
God’s words and actions are never careless; and through the just act of sending Christ to the world, we will never be separated from God’s infinite love and acceptance. We are forgiven; let us learn from Holy Wisdom!
Blessing for Sunday School Teachers and Learners*
Beatitudes for Teachers:**
Blessed are you who are called to teach,
for you walk in the footsteps of faith.
Blessed are you who sow peace and harmony in the classroom,
for yours will be the joy of God.
Blessed are you who plant seeds of hope in youthful hearts,
for you will inherit the dawn.
Blessed are you who are sensitive to the cries of youth today,
for your loving concern nurtures hope.
Beatitudes for Learners:
Blessed are you who are called to learn,
for you are God’s children.
Blessed are you when you share your thoughts and feelings with others,
for your trust teaches and encourages.
Blessed are you when you grapple with new ideas and possibilities,
for you will surely find Christ and rejoice.
Blessed are you who inspire and energize teachers,
for you will shine like stars in the heavens.
Call for the Offering
The psalmist declares, “The heavens are telling the glory of God. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” Let us share our gifts so that we can also partake in telling others of God’s glory!
All-knowing God, teach us to use these gifts to create greater access, insights, and wisdom for people within and outside of these walls. So be it!
In the acts of teaching and learning,
we bare our souls to one another.
Therefore, let our souls shine with kindness, patience, and gentleness.
Let Wisdom make her thoughts known to others
through our everyday encounters.
Let God’s words be our study guide for life.
*Options for the Special Blessing
- Teachers and learners can be invited to face the congregation as the liturgist/minister gives the blessing.
- Invite one teacher to give the blessing to the learners, and one learner to offer the blessing for teachers.
- The congregation can be invited to surround both groups and engage in laying on hands, or can remain in pews while extending hands forward in a symbolic gesture.
**Adapted from Beatitudes for Teachers, St. Mary’s College, Broome, Western Australia, http://www.stmarysbroome.wa.edu.au/home/religioused/teacher_prayer.doc
“A Dedication for Teachers” Service Prayers for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost was written by the Rev. Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Minority Student Life Specialist at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO.
Copyright 2009 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.