Summer Holidays Liturgy

Packing up our Troubles

Here is a different slant on the Summer Holidays Liturgy in our book ‘Creative Ideas for Whole Church Family Worship’.

See Summer Holidays Service poster in Posters.

During the summer months many people go away on holiday to enjoy some sunshine and experience something different. It can be a time to spend with families and friends and an opportunity to relax and rest.  Or it may be that time is taken to go on pilgrimage either alone or with a group in order to re-assess life and find spiritual refreshment or renewal. Or it might be time to spend in silence on retreat. After all, holidays can also be ‘holy days’. In this liturgy we offer a symbolic way to prepare for the journey, by ‘laying down’ our worries and concerns before we go and ‘packing’ those things which will be helpful and useful to us. 

At the beginning of the service give each person a small stone.

You will need several children to help during the service and a basket for each one.

You will also need two identical rucksacks. One is empty and sits in full view at the front of the people. The other is hidden near the altar and is already filled with the following things: Map, Bible, Torch, Bottle of Water, Chocolate, Walking Boots, Cagoule, Notebook and Pen, Bucket and Spade, Sun Cream, Rug, Return Travel Ticket.

You will need one child, briefed in advance, to take one rucksack to the altar and come back with the other one during the talk.

Song suggestions are listed at the end.

The Gathering

Everyone is given a small stone as they arrive.

Welcome and Opening Responses 

This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Jesus said, ‘Come to me and I will give you rest.’
We come to Jesus, bringing all that troubles us.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’
We trust in Jesus and listen to his voice.


Prayers of Penitence and Absolution

Affirmation of Faith


Bible Reading
Matthew 11.28-30

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

Talk and Action                 

Begin by asking people in the congregation if they plan to go on holiday, or have been on holiday and, if so, where to? Has anyone been on a retreat or pilgrimage? Is anyone on holiday now and in the church as a visitor?

Talk about going on holiday and having the chance to let go of some of the things that burden us in everyday life. Ask the congregation about things they find burdensome or difficult… a busy job with long hours, financial worries, tiredness, ill health, school exams etc. Ask everyone to pick up their stones, to feel them, the smoothness or roughness and, in a moment of quiet, to imagine them as burdens they are carrying. Jesus invites us in the reading from Matthew to come to him with our heavy burdens.

Now ask children with baskets to walk around the people and collect their stones. The baskets are brought to the front and one by one are tipped noisily into the empty rucksack... with the words ‘Here are our past worries, here are our troubles, here are our anxieties about the future, here are the things we are afraid of’ etc.  When all the baskets have been emptied into the rucksack notice how heavy it is. Remember again that Jesus says, ‘Come to me, all you who carry heavy burdens’. Ask the child who has been briefed in advance to take the heavy rucksack and place it on the floor beneath the cross of Jesus on the altar.

While this is happening start talking about the good things that Jesus wills for us. What are the things that Jesus would put in a rucksack to replace our heavy burdens? They could include love and light and joy, and things to sustain life.

The helping child now brings the second ‘hidden’ rucksack to the front and it is slowly unpacked with the following explanations:

A Map to help us find our way
A Bible to guide us through good and bad times
A Torch to light our path
A Bottle of Water to quench our thirst
Chocolate to share with people we meet
Walking Boots in case the going gets hard
A Cagoule to shelter us from the storm
A Notebook and Pen to write down our thoughts, hopes and prayers
A Bucket and Spade to help us be like little children
Sun Cream so we can soak up the wonders of God’s creation
A Rug to keep us warm
A Return Travel Ticket to bring us safely back to the ones we love

Jesus does not want us to be weighed down with anxiety and worry.  We have to trust him with our burdens – at least while we are on holiday! So we should allow ourselves some time apart to mend our souls and tend our bodies, whether that be building sandcastles on the beach with the family, or spending time journeying on pilgrimage, or in silence on retreat. We have today offered our burdens to Jesus by placing them by the altar. Now we are free to pick up our new rucksack and declare a ‘holy day’!


The Prayers of the People

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this day and for all that it holds.
We pray for your priests in this place, for this church community, and for your Church worldwide:

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your amazing world, for its beauty, for its sustaining life, and for its holy places. 
We pray for all your creation that we may care for it and steward it wisely so that our children and grandchildren, and generations to come, will continue to find it a place of renewal and adventure:

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for holidays, retreats and ‘holy days’.
We pray for our friends today who are away on holiday or who are having time out at home. And we offer to you those who are unable to spend time away or whose responsibilites at home are too great to leave:

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for charities and organisations which enable groups to go on holiday who might otherwise stay at home.
We pray for (local organisations):

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the opportunity to meet new friends, for conversations, new encounters and holiday adventures:
We pray for people we meet on our travels, and we pray for those who are visiting this church today during their holidays:

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the love of families and friends.
We pray for your healing on all who are unwell at this time.

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for those who have gone before and whose adventure has led them to you.
We pray that your comfort and peace will surround those who grieve.

God of rest and God of healing
hear us, as we pray to you.

Heavenly Father, be with us as we lay down our burdens this day.
We pray that your rest and healing will renew and refresh our lives.

The Lord’s Prayer


The Sending Out

We have offered our burdens to the safekeeping of Jesus.
Help us to travel light, to trust in his promises,
and to follow in his footsteps,
and may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit  be with us this day and always.


These may be in more than one book.

Ancient & Modern – Hymns and Songs for Refreshing Worship
King of kings, majesty
One more step along the world I go
The Lord’s my shepherd (Townend)

Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise
I heard the voice of Jesus say
Through the love of God, our Saviour
What a friend we have in Jesus

Shepherd me, O God
This day God gives me
Where your treasure is

Songs of Fellowship
O let the Son of God enfold you
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
When I was lost






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