Dedication Service
for Infants and Parents
(written by Peter L Haynes)

 

    Will the parents of _______________ bring their child forward?

"Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother's breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God."
   
                                 (Psalm 22:9-10)

    What an awesome thing it is, this process we call birth. Even more amazing is what then happens as a child grows. In an all-too-brief span of time an infant, so vulnerable and dependent, becomes a child - rapidly learning how to crawl and then to walk, moving from cries to words to sentences, growing in body, mind, and spirit toward adulthood. And parents have the tremendous opportunity to witness it all, and the great responsibility to guide this process they began.

    However, the most marvelous aspect of it all is that the very hand of God is involved. Scripture tells us that our Creator knows each child long before she enters this world, before he is even but a dream in his motherís heart. (Psalm 139:13-16) God is present at birth ("you ... took me from the womb"), and through the nurturing years ("you kept me safe on my motherís breast").

    Our faith informs us that our children belong to God, and are entrusted into our hands for but a season. Parenting, at its best, is a calling from God through those years to love and protect, to challenge and to gradually release these precious children. Parenting requires every resource we have, and then some. From walking the halls at 2:00 a.m. with a crying infant to waiting up past midnight for a tardy teenager, parenting is not for the weak-hearted!

    The good news is that parents do not fill these shoes alone. Jesus himself spoke Godís mother-like desire to "gather (her) children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings..." (Matthew 23:37). He also told of Godís patience which is like a father waiting for a prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The Lord is there all along the way of a childís growth, and many are the resources our Maker provides, if only we ask, and seek, and find.

    This room is full of many hearts and hands whom our God has drawn together into a family of faith. Within the church of Jesus Christ, no parent stands alone, no child is without many spiritual aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers. We are here to help bear this awesome and exciting responsibility of raising children. Will they grow to have faith in Christ? Will they hear the stories of Jesus? Will his words be lived out before them so that they will know the truth and the truth will set them free? Will they be encouraged to walk by faith little by little, be forgiven when they fall, and be challenged to one day undertake the greatest journey of all - to follow Jesus into the waters of baptism and beyond? The answer to those questions is our mission, church! Are we ready?

    _______ and ________, you have brought your precious (daughter/son) before this congregation to consecrate her/him (or 'them' if more than 1 couple) to the Lord, and to dedicate yourselves to the task of parenting. The time has come for some promises on your part, made before these people.

Promises

    Will you pledge to support and love ____________ by providing the opportunity for (her/him) to grow up in the family of faith, with the hope that she/he will some day confess Christ as (her/his) own Teacher, Lord, and Savior? 1
                                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/he) 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."

(optional portion for grandparents)

    Blessed is the child who has faithful, loving grandparents. Not only do you, who stand with this young family today, thoroughly enjoy and help nurture this precious child in your own unique way, you also support his/her parents through the wonder-filled and sometimes frustrating process of parenting. Will you, likewise, pledge to support, encourage, and love ____________ and her/his parents through these awesome years, to the best of your ability?
                                If so, say, "We will."

    Would you in this congregation please stand and turn to #791 in your hymnal. God did not intend families to go it alone in this world. It takes a church to help raise a child in the faith, so I ask you who are gathered here to take seriously your responsibility in Jesus Christ. If you accept the call to be a community of faith to this child and his parents, would you read this pledge with me.

                You have offered your child
                        to the strong and tender providence of God.
                We rejoice with you and give thanks
                        for the gift of your child.
                We promise, with humility and seriousness,
                        to share in your childís nurture and well-being.
                We will support, by our example and words,
                        your efforts to provide a loving and caring home,
                        where trust in God grows and Christís way is chosen.
                Our prayers will be with you and for you.
                May our shared life and witness
                        help make your task both joyful and fruitful. 2

Consecration

(The child is held and introduced to the congregation, walking down the aisle.
The following dedication and prayer is then spoken.)

              (full name)         , 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

    Lord, thank you for ________.  (She/he) is your child. Bless (her/him) all the days of (her/his) life. Give to (her/his) parents, (her/his) family, and (her/his) church what we need to raise (her/him) in the faith. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

    (optional:)     Letís stand and sing together "Child of blessing, child of promise." 4

Credits

 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 #791 in  Hymnal: A Worship Book, ©1992, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, attributed to John Mosemann, originally found in The Mennonite Hymnal, ©1969.

 3 Borrowed from p. 202, Pastor's Manual: Church of the Brethren, ©1978, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, no attribution given.

 4 This is #620 in  Hymnal: A Worship Book, ©1992, Brethren Press, Elgin, IL, text by Ronald S. Cole-Turner, ©1981, sung to "Stuttgart."


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 2, Service 3, and Advent Service.


©2000, Peter L. Haynes

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