For many of us, it is a Minnesota tradition to wrap up the summer with one last hurrah at the fair, go school shopping, get the planners out, and the backpacks and lunch bags all set for the day after labor day. This year looks different. There was no fair and school will look totally different, whether in-person or distance, and even the start date for school seems to be influx. Some of us have kids who will be going to school at the kitchen table, others to their buildings but only some days, some have had the start of whatever school will look like pushed back a week. The start of school will look anything other than normal and we didn’t even get one last ride, visit to the horse barn, or cheese curd to prepare!!! Today and in the days to come, I commend to you this prayer written by Rev. Laura Stephens-Reed (featured last night during Park & Pray). Please keep our students, staff at all our schools, and families in your prayers. 

In Peace and Hope, Pastor Ruth

A prayer for the start to this (weird) new school year
by Rev. Laura Stephens-Reed

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.