Dedication and Godspeed Service
for an Infant and her Family
|The following was a special service combining both a baby dedication and a farewell service for a family active in this congregation, moving to a different state soon afterward.|
"For everything there is a season..." So said the preacher Ecclesiates. Often those seasons and times overlap. Like today, as we both welcome a brand new life into this world, and release her and her family as they head off into a brand new adventure. We are always blessed by the persons God draws into our fellowship, folks like ______ and ______ ______. It wasn’t all that long ago when we welcomed them and their brand new son, ______ into this congregation. They have been very involved in our life together, sharing their God-given gifts. And now a promotion is taking them to ______, __. This morning, we want to represent the larger church of Jesus Christ, of which we are only a gathering of believers, and dedicate little Annabelle to the Lord, and her parents to the task of raising her in the faith. We also wish to send them forth as apostles of Jesus to be a blessing wherever they are planted, that others may be blessed as we have been. ______, ______, ______, and ______, would you come forward?
"For everything there is a season ... a time to be born..." We are so happy for you. As ______ put it so well in one of those serendipity moments during a recent children’s story, "God is like a precious baby sister." May he still feel that way when she is older. May you also. Right now, this fragile package in your arms is totally dependent upon you for life. That will not always be the case, as you well know. It won’t be long before she will spread her wings and fly. Until then, an enormous undertaking rests in your hands. You have perhaps the world’s most important task before you.
As I say this, I pray you will hear within these words the grace of the One who has entrusted her to you. ______, like all children, belongs to God - a precious child of the One who really created her. So we believe. When God entrusts us with such a responsibility, God gives to us what we need for the journey of parenting. We are not in this alone. The Lord is an ever-present help along the way. When we falter, as we will, God helps us to our feet. God holds you, even as you hold Annabelle. Amen, congregation? Never forget this, even as your family journey takes you to other places.
______ and ______, you have brought your precious daughter before this congregation to consecrate her to the Lord, and to re-dedicate yourselves to the task of parenting. The time has come for some promises on your part, made before these people.
Will you pledge to support and love ______ by providing the opportunity for her to grow up in the family of faith, wherever that congregation may be, with the hope that she will some day confess Christ as her own Teacher, Lord, and Savior?
If so, say, "We will."
Will you, to the best of your ability, and with God’s help, provide a loving family environment in which ______ can grow in love, loyalty, and obedience to God?
If so, say, "We will."
Will you encourage ______ to grow in faith, so that she might later be received into the fellowship of the church by baptism, fully partaking in the work and worship of the church?
If so, say, "We will." 1
(turning to her older brother)
______, not long ago this was you in your parent’s arms, being dedicated to the Lord. You have grown so fast. We can hardly believe it. We’re proud of you, and we know you will be a great big brother to Annabelle. I have just one question for you. Do you promise to keep loving your sister, and tell her about Jesus? ____ I thought you would!
(turning to her church)
As a sign of your support of this family, even though they now head off to a new home in a different state, would you who are gathered here please stand. We represent the church of Jesus Christ, which is more than our fellowship in this "Long Green Valley." As we dedicate this child and her family, we entrust them into the care of another congregation, yet to be determined. We pray that God is preparing the way for their involvement in this new community of faith. To that end, please join me in the prayer you see projected on the screen. It is in your hymnal also, but here the "blanks" have been filled in, for this child has a name. This prayer borrows heavily from the writings of an early Anabaptist leader, Pilgrim Marpeck, in 1542. Let’s join our voices in prayer:
|Maker of galaxies and planets,
yet also of the hairs on our heads,
we magnify your name
for our creation and for all the blessings of this life.
Especially are we glad for the birth
of ______ ______ ______.
We claim the same assurance for her
that Jesus gave to the children he took into his arms:
that they belong to your kingdom.
Give the parents grace to raise their child to your glory.
Let this child come to her own faith in Christ crucified.
Protect her against misfortune and mishap.
Let the love that ______ receives and gives know no limits.
In the end, grant her eternal life,
for Jesus’ sake. AMEN 2
(The child is held and introduced to the congregation, walking down the aisle. The following dedication and prayer is then spoken.)
______ ______ ______, you are dedicated to the Lord. May all the resources of home, family, and church nurture you and encourage toward your own decision for Jesus Christ. 3
"For everything there is a season ... a time to cast away stones..." Imagine standing on the shore of a lake with a rock in hand, something children of all ages enjoy. You throw that stone as far as you can and watch it land in the water. Where it touches the surface, a ripple begins, which radiates out from that point, eventually touching the shore where you stand. Today, as we dedicate you all, we stand on the shore of your new adventure, waiting to see the ripple effect of your family. We trust some of those ripples will return to this shore. This week, the boy in me ventured into the stream behind our meetinghouse, where I picked out four stones, which I entrust to ______ (the older brother) just now. Sometime, after you’ve become settled in your new home, you might take a family outing to some lake or stream. Toss these rocks and "gather (new) stones together." Of course, you can also choose to save these rocks, but I tell you, they’re just stones - some cracked with rough edges. Just like us here, as well as the folks in whatever congregation you next join. The wonder is what ripples God causes through all these truly precious stones. Amen?
______, ______, ______, and ______, go forth with our blessing and the love of Jesus.
1 These three questions were adapted from p. 151-152 of For All Who Minister, ©1993, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, attributed to Norlyn Davis-Driver.
2 This is #792 in Hymnal: A Worship Book, ©1992, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, the words are ©1991 by John D. Rempel, based on the writings of Pilgram Marpeck, 16th c. Used by permission
3 Borrowed from p. 202, Pastor's Manual: Church of the Brethren, ©1978, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, no attribution given.
©2007, Peter L. Haynes
For more on our understanding of infant dedication instead of baptism, check out -
"Let Them Come to Me."
Other examples of infant dedication services:
Service 1, Service 2, and Advent Service.
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Go to Long Green Valley Church webpage