School supplies used to include simple things like rulers, pencils, and tablets made of paper. Now the tablets and devices are electronic. We are blessed to have such tools during this season of COVID-19.
If you are a craftsman . . . only look at your tools, your needle, your thimble, your beer barrel, your articles of trade, your scales, your measures, and you will find this saying written on them . . . “My dear, use me toward your neighbor, as you would want him to act toward you with that which is his.” ~ Martin Luther, Weimarer Ausgabe 32, pp. 495–496 (The Sermon on the Mount).
For many churches, one of the markers of the beginning of the fall program year is the “Blessing of the Backpacks.” It is a ritual that helps our faith communities bless children as they return back to school, assures both children and adults that God is with them wherever they go and reminds us, as Martin Luther wrote, that everything inside that backpack can be a means by which we can serve and bless our neighbors.
This year, ResourceUMC.org suggests that churches, individuals, and families may want to add a “Blessing of the Devices” to your fall rites of passage. Just as we bless the physical symbols and tools of our learning, we can also bless and mark the digital devices through which so much of schooling, work, and life are now mediated – or happening remotely from schools and workplaces.
Blessing of the Devices by author Elizabeth Drescher.
God, you call us to share your Good News of love, justice, and peace with a world in need.
You have gifted us with rich resources from scripture, tradition, reason, and experience,
Which have allowed people to develop new ways of listening to the voices of many others, attending to their interests and concerns, connecting with diverse peoples and groups, and engaging them as people of faith.
We ask your blessing on our digitally-integrated ministries and on the many electronic devices we use to learn and to love and serve our neighbors in a changing world.
May they never become distractions from relationships or idols in our hands. May we always remember that your Son, Jesus Christ, is the one true mediator of your love and grace in the wired world in which we live. Amen.
And stickers for the kids!
Backpack blessings often include a tag or pin that allows participants to mark their backpack as “blessed.” Stickers could play a similar role in a blessing of devices. They can be used on the back of cell phones, laptops, or tablets. Here are a few suggestions:
- Illustrated Ministry offers vibrant stickers including the especially appropriate “blessed to be a blessing” sticker.
- Etsy offers an incredible variety of stickers from Henri Nouwen quotes to crosses and scripture stickers.
- You can also design and print your own stickers (Avery offers a variety of styles and sizes).
Back to school 2020 is truly an experience like none other. Isn’t that all the more reason to remind ourselves that God is with us, when we are learning and working … in our living room, home office, classroom, kitchen, or workplace.
~ This Resource UMC article is adapted from content originally published in the e-newsletter of Building Faith, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary.