In our culture some parents ask that the church help dedicate their children rather than performing infant baptism. Below is a sample of such a service that I was asked to perform.
Hebrew Text: 2 Kings 5: 17-19 (MSG/LBLA) “If you won’t take anything,” said Naaman, “let me ask you for something: Give me a load of dirt, as much as a team of donkeys can carry, because I’m never again going to worship any god other than God. But there’s one thing for which I need God’s pardon: When my master, leaning on my arm, enters the shrine of Rimmon and worships there, and I’m with him there, worshiping Rimmon, may you see to it that God forgive me for this.” Elisha said, “Everything will be all right. Go in peace.
Gospel Reading: Jude 1: 1-2 (MSG/LBLA) I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
Welcome church, today our church is intentionally keeping all the children in the service. Today our church is joining this family in dedicating their children to God.
I’ll be honest, it made me nervous, the thought that I personally have to assume my role as Minister of Discipleship and my role as servant of this church to present these children. I am honored! And I am nervous. I’ll tell you what made me nervous… As I thought about it, I realized that each of these children have their own journey to take within God’s plan for their lives, and I thought, God how can I speak to each of them and their individuality in only one sermon! I know I sounded like a bratty kid: God it’s not fair! They should each get their own sermon, their own story, their own book! And so, God gave me these words:
I wanted to tell you a story Magaly. In the book of Mark 10: 13-16, the Bible says, The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in. Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Magaly, You are a gift. See, when you first walked into this church, you were already clear in your role.
- I remember you asked me if I was the teacher and I wasn’t sure how to answer…
- I remember you asking when you could sing in the front….
- I remember your face the first time you saw Jedxenia dance and you said, I can do that too!
Let me tell you something about The Gospel of Mark, from which you just heard me read. Mark is said to have been the first of the Gospels written. His Gospel is full of information and clues about God’s grace, but the Gospel of Mark reads as though he was in a rush all the time! Magaly this story made me think of you, you are not afraid of hard work, you are always thinking about what is the right thing to do and you are not afraid to love. I want you to remember this as you get older, God made space for you. When other people try to get in the way of what God has in mind for you remember what Jesus said, you “are at the very center of life in the kingdom of God.” God has you in his protective embrace. But remember that doesn’t mean you have to move fast, or be quick, take your time and enjoy the journey, God has already made a spot for you to learn, to sing, and to dance. Magaly, you have a servant’s heart. God gave you a heart for ministry. In any way that you can, you help!
I wanted to tell you a story Joseito. In the book of Matthew 19:13-15, the Bible says, One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
Joseito, You are a gift. I have watched you encourage other people without even knowing that’s what you are doing.
- I have seen you reach out to others in the church
- I remember walking into church and thinking that I was invisible, and you walked up to me with a giant smile and a hug.
That’s God flowing through you. Continue to allow God to shine through you! You have the gift of encouragement. Keep it up! When other people look sad, don’t be afraid to remind them that God loves them! Remember, “God’s kingdom is made up of people like [you].”
Hi Tata: I gotta be honest, I wondered if the third Synoptic Gospel would also have words written just for you! And I gotta say, God is so awesome that you were in there too. In the book of Luke 18:15-17, the Bible says, People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.
Tata, you are your families pride and joy. You are full of energy, you aren’t afraid of anything! You have qualities similar to your siblings, but everything you do you do to the max!! Tata, “you are [God’s] pride and joy.”
Let there be Peace: As I contemplated on today’s readings, three messages stood out for me:
Relax, “Everythings going to be all right!”
Rest, “Everything’s coming together;” and
Open your hearts, love is on the way!” (Jude 1: 2, MSG)
Each of these children has a reason that God has sent them to this place and at this time, as a church and as parents, we need to keep our hearts open to those little messages that God leaves for us, those nuggets that these children give us!
Relax, “Everythings going to be all right!”
Rest, “Everything’s coming together;” and
Open your hearts, love is on the way!” (Jude 1: 2, MSG) and always we remember,
Peace, “Everything will be all right, go in peace!” (2Kings 5:17-19, MSG)
Today, in obedience of God’s Word and sure of His love and compassion, we prepare to dedicate these three children, whom God has already called HIS OWN!
- Magaly M.
- Jose M.
Obeying the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ and sure of the Holy Spirits presence with us we join this family in dedicating these children whom God has already called His own, to God’s will.
Prayer of Invocation Heavenly Father, we thank you for this moment that brings these children to the threshold of their dedication. May they always hear the name of Jesus in their home and always feel the love of Jesus in their hearts. Amen.
Question to the Parents In presenting your children for dedication, you may answer the following questions:
Pastor: Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If so answer, “Yes.”
Pastor: Before God and these witnesses, Jose and Mariany, do you promise to raise these children in the fear of God? If so answer, “With God’s help.”
Pastor: Do you promise to guide them in the knowledge of God? If so answer, “With God’s help.”
Pastor: Do you promise to teach them in the doctrine and teachings of God? If so answer, “With God’s help.”
Pastor: We know that you will pray for your children. Do you also promise to teach them how to pray, to read Bible stories to them, to bring them to Sunday School, to let them see you give your time, your talents, and your offering, and to participate as a family in the life of the church? If so answer, “Yes.”
Pastor: Do you promise to create a loving home that will nurture your child’s faith so that they will come to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? If so answer, “Yes.”
Question to the God Parents
Pastor: Do you promise to help Jose and Mariany in raising Magaly, not in the way that you think best, but in accordance with their Godly believes? Remembering that this child has been entrusted to them by God’s will? If so answer, “Yes.”
Pastor: Do you promise to help Jose and Mariany in raising Jose, not in the way that you think best, but in accordance with their Godly believes? Remembering that this child has been entrusted to them by God’s will? ? If so answer, “Yes.”
Pastor: Do you promise to help Jose and Mariany in raising Yarianis, not in the way that you think best, but in accordance with their Godly believes? Remembering that this child has been entrusted to them by God’s will? ? If so answer, “Yes.”
Question to those Gathered
Pastor: Do you, Manantial de Gracia, promise to pray for Magaly, Jose, and Yarianis and their parents, so they will be able to see the importance of raising them as God has commanded and by your fellowship to strengthen their ties with the family of God? If so, answer “We will.”
Pastor: Do you as a congregation promise to undertake the responsibility of assisting these parents in the Christian nurture of their children? If so, answer “We will.”
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV
Each of the people here together serves as a witness of this strand of three. Magaly, Jose and Yarianis, as children you have a responsibility, to LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD, that God’s purpose may become clearer in your everyday life.
Jose and Mariany, as parents you have a responsibility over these children, as God has entrusted them into your care and responsibility. Remember, the road can be hard, the journey may feel long, but God is with you every step of the way.
And, Manantial de Gracia, we have a responsibility as well, this family needs strength and fellowship. The journey is hard, the way is far, but together in kononia, and with God’s help we can get through anything.
Magaly, Jose and Yarianis as a minister of God, together with your parents, who love and care for you; and your god-parents, who care for you and your future; and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit I bear witness to your parents who dedicate you to God, surrounding you with the protection and the power of God, I, with them, claim your life for God knowing that you already belong to Him forever. With this oil I anoint you. Amen!