Dear friends:

I see plenty of paper and scissors at St. Paul's, but no rocks.
 
As these days of summer vacation move farther into August, the upcoming school days of September draw nearer. For many years St. Paul's has marked the transition between these two seasons with our Backpack Build . Every August you purchase school supplies for area children who need them and bring those ingredients for education to church with you. We bless those gifts for learning with our prayers on a Sunday morning, and then folks gather after worship in Heavener Hall to assemble the supplies into ready-to-go backpacks. For the past several weeks you have been faithfully coming to church bearing backpacks and binders, pencils and pens. Those and other fruits of your back-to-school shopping are currently up on the stage in Heavener Hall filling numerous baskets, ready for building this Sunday. You give so generously, and so eagerly, to support children you may never meet. 
 
I've met some of these young people, though. I have personally seen the delight on the faces of budding students when they heft their own personal backpack, scented with the smell of brand-newness and weighted with all the critical needs for the first day of class. Like, of course, scissors . Much of early childhood education seems to involve reducing paper into small vaguely recognizable geometric shapes by means of two opposing blades connected to each other by a swivel pin. There is a certain functionality to the use of scissors that does carry over into adult life, though: I’ve noticed they come in handy, for example, to cut through the industrial packing tape Amazon uses on its boxes. The good news is that we'll send about 100 students back to school in September with a supply of scissors extensive enough to open boxes through the Christmas season.
 
We'll also be sending these children back to school with a large supply of love . I am so proud to be part of a church that nurtures its community. For almost as long as I've known the people of St. Paul's I've seen you send our neighbors home with food every month, send a truckload of water and canned goods to flood victims in West Virginia , send soccer balls to Nicaragua , shoes to Honduras , and money to help build a university in Zimbabwe . Soon you'll send 100 smiling students off to school, each proudly carrying a small piece of St. Paul's on his or her back. They'll carry those loads easily, because paper and scissors only weigh so much. But the love of God packed into these gifts will be heavier than any rock.
 
I’ll see you this Sunday at St. Paul’s, friends. As summer winds down we'll bless and build these backpacks of love for the season to come.

Peace,

A.B. Snell