The weekend before Thanksgiving was a child dedication service at our church. What does that mean? Well, we don’t baptize babies at our church because we practice believer’s baptism, but we do have the option to dedicate them to God in front of the congregation. However, it’s primarily an act on the part of the parents to publicly give thanks for God’s gift of life and acknowledge the accountability that comes with that gift. It is we the parents who are dedicating ourselves to be faithful stewards of the child God has entrusted to us and to endeavor to raise our child in such a way that brings honor and glory to God.
As our pastor says, there is no blessing spoken or guarantee given that these kids will grow up to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise” or even that they will enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls. We can only pray and do our best to teach and point them to our gracious, loving Heavenly Father, and ask our church family to come along side us and support us on the journey.
My parents had planned a quick weekend trip out to see us (okay, mostly to see their grandbaby) before we even knew a dedication was planned. We were all pretty excited about God’s providence. Then my mom got strep throat the week before their trip. It was a game-time decision, but they ultimately decided not to make the trip. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out.
This particular Sunday, we brought Sam along with three other families, all of whom we know and two of which we are close friends. It was extra special to be up there with friends from our small community within our larger church community.
After Pastor Wayne introduced all the families and explained the purpose of the dedication, much as I have just done, he asked all of us parents a series of questions. I transcribed these questions from the service video mainly to remind us to what we have committed ourselves.
Have you put your faith in the person of Jesus Christ, that He is who He claimed to be and that He died as your substitute for sin and that it is the merit of His righteousness alone that brings you into fellowship with God the Father?
Have you willingly made a commitment to the purpose of glorifying God in all areas of life including personal conduct, public conversation, and the priority of establishing and maintaining a Christian home?
Do you publicly commit yourselves as parents to raise each of your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, realizing your responsibility to be faithful stewards of the life that God has entrusted to you, and as part of fulfilling the commitment, do you promise to live before the children a life that has been transformed by the gospel of grace and to share the truth of the gospel with them so they might come to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and to be diligent in both formal and informal settings to teach them their responsibility to love God whole-heartedly?
Those are some big commitments, huh? That’s why I’m so thankful for the final question, posed not to us, but to the church body:
Do you, the family of faith, commit yourself to model the Christian life before these children and to pray for and support these families that they might indeed fulfill their God-given responsibilities?
We feel the blessings of a church community keenly because, among other reasons, we don’t have family in town. It is God who gives us the strength to parent our children, and He uses others to build us up and help us in the journey.
Since the kids won’t remember the event, each of them receives a New Testament as a reminder of what happened this day.