Kids, I want you to do something special: I want you to put on your backpacks, if you brought them, leaving the back pocket open just enough for us to drop in a small gift...and I want you to stand up on your pews. I know that your adults may tell you never to stand on the pews in church (and I want you to listen to them at all other times) but right now, I want you to get up, to stand up if you are able, right there on your pews, and I want you to look around at all of the faces looking up at you—people you know and people you don’t know—and I want you to know that they love you and that they will be with you: on the bus and in the hallway, in the lunchroom and on the playground, and in your classrooms. They will be with you, in your heart, loving you and cheering you on.
You can remember us, whenever you need us, because we're going to give you your very own heart stone. Hop down when you're ready, and make your way into the two center aisles. Your religious education teachers and your mentors and advisors are there, ready to place a heart stone in your bag.
And now let us pray.
Spirit of love and of life, be with our children as they journey out from us. Fill their hearts with courage and strength and tenderness. Help them to tell their truth about who they are and all that they see. Help us to listen in a way that lets them speak. Be with all of us, whose hearts break for the backpacks not taken up tomorrow. Help us all to reach out, using our minds and bodies and words, trusting our wise and growing hearts, to truly make our classrooms and our workplaces, our homes and our churches and our world, safe and nurturing places for all. Spirit of life and love, fill us all with courage, and help us to know that wherever we go, we go in love. May it be so, and Amen.