On Faith: The Blessing of the Backpacks

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cindy-photoForty children and teens participated recently in a “Blessing of the Backpacks” at Community Church Congregational in Corona del Mar.

”Of course, you don’t bless a backpack, you bless the children,” explained Kathy Kipp, Youth Ministry Team Leader at the church. “We just called it that because it’s catchy.  We asked God to bless the children, bless their learning, help them love God with all their hearts, souls and minds, remember to bring God into all of their lives, and to be grateful for the opportunities they have. It was very special, it all came together incredibly well and the kids were amazing.”

“The kids came forward with their backpacks and we talked to them a little about school,” Kipp continued. “Leslie Baker, co-head Deacon, gave part of the children’s sermon, and explained that Sunday school was started by a man named Robert Raikes in England 200 years ago during the Industrial Revolution. The poor children had to work every day, and their only day off was Sunday. Mr. Raikes said it wasn’t right that the children weren’t educated, so on Sundays he started teaching them. The book that every family had at home was the Bible, so that’s the book they learned to read and write from.”

This was the third year Community Church Congregational held the Blessing of the Backpacks. 

 “Backpacks are symbolic of the children going back to school and all responsibilities they have there,” Pastor Chip Fisher said. “They have heavy burdens and bear big pressures. This is another way we try to communicate to our children and teens, as well as to our church family, how important they are to us and how much we appreciate all they do. For the first 10 or 15 minutes of every Sunday Worship Service, the children and teens meet with us in the sanctuary. They sing the opening hymn, and then we offer a children’s sermon as a way of including them. We bless them, pray over them, and then they go to their Sunday School classes.”

Kipp explained that the morning also included a special blessing and offering for a ministry the church supports which benefits children in Uganda. After the blessings, the teenagers presented a Biblical story in a Frozen Tableaux format. Frozen Tableaux is a strategy where people recreate an important piece of art or a scene of a story; real people look frozen in action, as in the Pageant of the Masters.

 “I chose the Bible passage about the story of Joseph having his servant put the silver cup in his brother Benjamin’s backpack,” Kipp said. “We made it modern day, so the kids wore jeans and bright t-shirts. They had different kinds of bags, representing the different kinds of bags, or challenges, we carry. We talked about how we have a lot of blessings, and a lot of challenges in life, and sometimes the blessings are hidden in the challenges.”

“We did five different scenes,” Kipp continued. “Each time, people closed their eyes, I read the Bible verses, then someone spoke as if he was Joseph, his brothers or his servant, then I rang a little bell and the congregation opened their eyes to see the next scene. In the final scene, Judah confessed and there was resolution. It was very powerful and people were moved. One of the teenage boys commented on how lucky they were to have this experience, and you don’t always hear something like that from teenage boys.  Everybody wanted to participate, it was a great day.”

For further information, go to cdmucc.org.

 Cindy can be reached at [email protected]

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