Sunday Worship, 27 June 2021

Welcome

Usually towards the end of the school year we are involved in end-of-year celebrations with the local schools with which we have chaplaincy links – Aitkenbar, Braehead, Dalreoch, Knoxland and Dumbarton Academy.

Because of Covid-19 restrictions we are again unable to be directly involved this year, though during the year we have tried to maintain our links with the schools, sometimes providing them with material, sometimes reassuring Head Teachers and staff that they remain in our thoughts and prayers.

In our service today we’ll focus on young people in schools, the staff, and families and other carers at home.

Blessed be the LORD whose unfailing love for me was wonderful.

Psalm 31: 21

Hymn JP 50 Give me oil in my lamp [1 3 4 and chorus]

Opening Prayer

Lord

We all have memories – good and bad –
of Primary and Secondary School
of things we did, things we should have done, things we shouldn’t have done
we remember friends and teachers
we remember special events like parties, concerts or trips
we may also remember outside challenges that affected our schooling

The last fifteen months have been very strange for us all
but have had a particular impact on children and young people in school
school staff and families and carers
some pupils already faced complex issues at home
some faced new problems arising out of the pandemic
we hope that with support there will be no long-term consequences
but we cannot be sure

Through our experience of the pandemic we have been reminded of some old truths:
the value of families, friends, neighbours and communities
the beauty of the world around us
that relationships are worth more than material things
that people like transport, cleansing, retail, social care and health care staff are so important
that there are people in our communities who live with many and complex issues

We are also reminded of your constant love and care for us
and for all in need

Forgive us where we have forgotten you
where we have forgotten the needs of others
Help us to be the people you want us to be
sharing your love and Good News wherever we go

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time (for ages 0-100)

I’ve put on the screen the picture of a jigsaw I picked up a couple of years ago in Diane’s bookshop in West Kirk. It is Askrigg village in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. It’s an attractive scene, it’s an interesting jigsaw to do, but the main reason that I bought it is that when I was in the equivalent of Primary 7 I went on a school camp in that field there. In those days there were no ‘outdoor centres’ with dormitories, bathrooms etc, just fields with tents, trenches and a stream, and porridge, bread and jam and mugs of tea for breakfast.

I sent a copy of this picture to one of my friends who shared the same tent as me all those years ago. He remarked that that school camp kindled a love of the outdoors for him – at that stage he had just finished a 97 mile walk across the Pennines, when it was his 60th birthday he cycled 79 miles round North Yorkshire in rain, wind and sleet, and he has climbed in the Himalayas, Andes and Mount Kilimanjaro. I don’t remember him being that enthusiastic about sport at school, so it obviously grew later in life: the seed had been sown, but sometimes it takes a while to grow.

Bible reading 2 Corinthian 8: 7-15

Hymn JP94 If I were a butterfly [all]

Reflection

Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, many P7s around the country have not been able to go for trips to outdoor centres during the time we have been under Covid restrictions. There are a whole lot of other things that pupils and young people from P1 to S6 have not been able to do. They are just some of the challenges they have had to face over the last fifteen months:
• initially schools were closed apart from certain categories of children and young people
• some have had spells with blended learning (part-of the time at home, part in school)
• some have had to isolate because someone they know, or someone linked to someone in their class, had or might have had Covid
• sometimes they had to work online, which for some was difficult if there wasn’t the broadband width, number of devices, or space to work in peace at home
• undertaking a limited number of activities and it an adapted way
• some had to cope with increased stress and other issues when they were at home
• and for those in secondary school there has been anxiety about exam grades, entry to higher education or an apprenticeship, finding a job (and maybe losing their part-time weekend job)

The last year or so has been a stressful time for school staff, especially teachers and leadership teams
• coping with a mix of learning styles (sometimes at the same time)
• preparing online learning material
• coping with the risk to their own health
• providing back-up and support to pupils/ young people who were struggling with mental health and other issues
• trying to create activities at times like Christmas that felt special and seasonal whilst observing the regulations to prevent any spread of the disease

It has been a hard time for families and carers too:
• some have struggled financially (while trying not to let on to their children)
• some already had complex problems before the pandemic began
• some had health issues requiring them to isolate or shield
• many had to juggle childcare and their own work commitments, whether that meant working from home, or having to travel to work – especially when regulations changed, or a class had to isolate
• for some the juggling was worse where there wasn’t ample broadband, number of devices or space in the house or flat

It has been a challenging fifteen months, and we cannot be certain that it is all behind us. For some there may well be long-term impacts on mental health, on achieving their potential, a gap between what they did attain and what they might have attained. While we hope and pray that all these and other issues will be addressed in coming months and years, we also celebrate and give thanks for the tremendous work that pupils, staff and families/carers have done over the past year or so, and assure them that they remain in our thoughts and prayers

Prayers for others

Gracious God

As the school year draws to a close round the country
we give thanks for the work done by pupils, staff and families and carers
to help children and young people
to learn and develop their skills
in the face of the challenge created by the pandemic and associated restrictions

as the year ends
some are anxiously looking forward to what comes next
a new school, exam results, moving on from school
some are living with mental health issues
some are coping with difficult, stressful situations at home

as the holidays begin
some may be going away for holiday
and have plenty to keep them occupied when they are at home
others may have nothing much to occupy them till the new term starts
some may have to cope with poverty and other issues at home

be with all members of the school communities
support them with their specific needs
and help us to know what we as a church or as individuals
can do to help children and families in our community

we pray for all who are ill,
those who look after them
and those who worry about them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one
those who are worried about home, work or money
a friend or a relative
those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters
those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home
those who long to live in peace and safety
those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We pray for you church
the worldwide church
the wider church in Dumbarton
our own congregation
help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn JP78 He’s got the whole wide world in his hands [All]

Blessing

And the blessing of God Almighty.

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