Read 2006-2007 Opening Prayer Service text version

2006-07 Opening Prayer Service

Background An opening prayer service is a great way to mark the beginning of the new school year and the autumn season of new parish programs. It can help students, teachers, parents, teens and adults make the mental transition from summer to fall, so that everyone is ready to learn. Read through the prayer service and adapt it as needed to your group. Worship Environment Make the environment conducive to prayer by considering lighting (dim or bright), sound (are microphones needed?), temperature of the room, seating (in a circle, semi-circle, forward-facing, etc.), and if music will be included. Create a prayer focal point by placing one cross or crucifix near a small table draped with a beautiful cloth. Arrange on it flowers, lighted candles and a Bible opened to the reading. You may want to print out on card stock the bookmark accompanying this prayer service. It has the eight spiritual qualities mentioned in the reading, along with the reflection questions found below. Place them on the table up front and distribute them at the reflection time. Red is the color of the Holy Spirit, who is often invoked in religious education endeavors. Use red cloths, candles or flowers to decorate the prayer space. Gathering Song Come Holy Ghost, This is the Day that the Lord Has Made or some other appropriate song known by most of the participants. Presider: Sign of the Cross It is with gratitude and joy that we gather at this opening prayer service. Let us turn our thoughts and minds to God as we make the sign of our salvation: (making the sign of the cross) In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Presider: Welcome and Opening Prayer My name is _____________________ and I welcome all of you to (name of school/parish/program). At this prayer service, we will ask God's blessing on each person here, and, in a special way, ask the Holy Spirit to be with us as we begin this (program/school year). We will listen to Scripture and preaching, pray, sing and take time to reflect on this moment of beginning. As we turn our attention to Scripture, I want you to listen for the list of eight qualities that St. Paul asks us to think about. Can you remember one or two of the items on the list? Lector: Scripture Reading (Philippians 4:8-9) (Lector uses the Bible from the table to read, then replaces it reverently when finished. Different versions of the Bible vary in wording; place a copy of the reading in the Bible, so the version read aloud matches the one below.) A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. The Word of the Lord. All: Thanks be to God. Presider: Shared Reflection (adapt and rewrite as necessary for your group) St. Paul makes a link between thinking, learning and acting. He gives us a list of eight words to think about: things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise. These eight words describe the ideal Christian's character. They are qualities that we can strive to live everyday.

We can choose to tell the truth and not lie. We can show we are honorable by treating every person with respect and dignity.

We can choose to do the just thing, the right thing, when tempted to do wrong. We can choose to stay away from sinful things and keep our minds pure. We can notice things that are lovely, like God's beautiful creation. We can keep control of our tongue so that our words are gracious, and not rude or offensive. We can (study/work) really hard, and give our best efforts to achieve excellence in everything we do. We can be kind to others so that our actions are worthy of praise.

All (Students/Teens/Group Participants), please stand. (Extending both hands over these people): May God bless you as you begin this (new academic year/ new program). May the Holy Spirit help you strive for excellence (in all your subjects/ in this youth group/ in this church group/ in this endeavor), and strengthen you to pursue truth, honor, justice and purity in your lives, in the church and in the world. Amen. (Sit down) All (Teachers, administrators and staff/ Youth ministers/Group leaders), please stand. (Extending both hands over these people): May God bless you in your ministries at (name of school/ parish). May the Holy Spirit inspire you in all your activities so that your service is effective in helping this Christian community grow in knowledge, truth, honor and excellence. Amen. (Sit down) All Parents, please stand. (Extending both hands over the parents): May God bless you in your vocations as mothers and fathers. May the Holy Spirit give you grace and wisdom as you teach your children to grow in justice and purity. By your own example, may you help your children choose things that are lovely and gracious, full of excellence and worthy of praise. Amen. (Sit down) Presider: Our Father Jesus taught that Christians are more than friends, we are brothers and sisters to one another. Let us stand, then, and pray, using family terms in the prayer that Jesus taught us: Our Father... Presider: Concluding Prayer We come now to the end of our prayer service. Strengthened by the Word of God and the love of our brothers and sisters, we are sent forth to share what we have learned. We end as we began, with the sign of our salvation: (making sign of cross) Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. Please join me in singing our closing song. Closing Song: They'll Know We Are Christians (or some other appropriate song) _________________________________________________

Written by Kathy Schmitt, M.Div., August 2006. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament © 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

When St. Paul says, "Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me" he means, in effect, "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus." St. Paul in all his letters told us about Jesus, about what Jesus was like and how to follow him as a disciple. St. Paul says in this Scripture reading from Philippians, whatever you learned from me about Jesus and how to be a good Christian­put those learnings into practice. The best way to convince others that we are learning and growing in knowledge and grace is by showing it­by putting what we know into action. Presider: Reflection Questions (Pass out bookmarks at this time to aid reflection.) This reading from Philippians challenges us in many ways. As we begin this new (school year/program/church group), I invite you to take a few minutes of quiet prayer to reflect on these questions (read aloud, slowly and clearly). 1. What one quality mentioned by St. Paul would you most like to strengthen in yourself? In the church? In the world? In what ways have you seen others living these qualities and putting them into action in your family? Among your friends/coworkers? What one action can you take to put one of these qualities into action in your life today?



Take a few minutes now to reflect quietly. (Allow 2-3 minutes of silence) Presider: Blessing of Participants (Choose blessings according to the make-up of your group.You may need an assistant to hold the paper so you can read the blessing with both hands extended.) At this time of new beginnings, we seek grace and blessing from God. During this blessing, I ask you to pray for those around you, and for yourself, that God will give us what we need to grow in faith and love. As I call each group, please stand and bow your heads for the blessing then sit down.


2006-2007 Opening Prayer Service

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