As school has resumed for many across our state in the last two weeks, we offer this prayer. CBFNC is in prayer for each student, parent, teacher, principal, school staff, superintendent, and school board. This has indeed been a weird start to the new school year and we pray for a year full of learning and growth!
A prayer for the start to this (weird) new school year
By Laura-Stephens Reed
Clergy and Congregational Coach
My son last received formal instruction from his school on March 13, meaning first grade effectively ended for him on that day. Five months later, he is about to begin second grade. In that between time his school system, like every other one across the United States, has brainstormed, changed course, planned, and crossed its fingers for the academic year to come. In that time my spouse and I, like many parents across the United States, have wondered, fretted, been faced with impossible choices that we changed our minds about almost daily, and settled uneasily on the best path forward for our family. If you – or the people in your care – are in this situation, here’s a prayer that you’re welcome to use and share. Peace be with you.
God our help in ages past and hope for years to come,
we approach the beginning of this cycle of formal education with all the typical emotions:
excitement, uncertainty, disappointment at the end of summer, grief about the passage of time.
This year, though, that’s not all.
Over this summer the Covid-19 infection rate has trended up.
So schools and school systems have pivoted and planned to the best of their abilities for the education and safety of their students.
So parents have debated the educational options and second-guessed their choices for their children.
So faculty and staff have asked hard, important questions – many of which remain unanswered – about adequate access to cleaning supplies and protocols if someone gets sick.
Now here we are on the precipice, hoping for the best but terrified to send our loved ones into potential outbreak incubators.
It is too much.
It is too much to ask of our educational institutions that they meet so many community needs that kids’ attendance at them becomes essential for some families.
It is too much to ask of parents to give up income and calling to stay home with virtual learners to decrease exposure.
It is too much to ask of faculty and staff to overhaul their teaching approach or risk their lives (and potentially those of their loved ones) for not enough pay or respect.
And so we pray, fervently.
For good health, above all.
For peace with our hard-wrought decisions, whatever they are.
For compassion toward all, recognizing we’re all doing the best we can.
For enough for those scraping by with less income.
For flexibility and resilience, which we’ll all have opportunities to deepen.
For learning, whether or not it’s of the “academic” variety.
For connection across the cloud and across physical distancing restrictions.
For an increased awareness of the struggles of those around us and ways we can safely help one another.
For a long-term commitment to change systems that don’t serve us all equitably.
May we remember that you go with us wherever we go – or don’t go.
May we grow our dependence on you through this time.
And may we yet wrestle a blessing out of this terrible mess, leaving us changed for the better.
We pray these things in the name of the Christ who hurts with us
and by the power of the Spirit who gives us courage.
Rev. Laura Stephens-Reed is a clergy & congregational coach. An ordained minister since 2002, she has served congregations in a variety of settled and interim roles, including pastor, associate pastor, and minister with age-specific groups. She is affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists and holds Ministerial Standing in the Alabama-Northwest Florida Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and she is a member and contract employee of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Laura believes in the power of the local congregation to change individuals and communities in the name of Christ. Her call is to increase the effectiveness of clergy and congregations by helping them harness the amplified opportunities and overcome the challenges presented by transitions.