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

 

            On this first Sunday of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we rejoice in the birth of another motherís child. Not long ago within our fellowship, a husband and a wife (with their young son.daughter), were waiting for their (second) child to come into this world. Pregnancy can be a very uncomfortable time, indeed - especially for the mother. However, among the many blessings of this nine-month wait is the reorienting of time.

            While what happens inside a mother before birth has a somewhat predictable timing, the truth of the matter is - a baby will not be born until the time is right (unless, of course, we take matters into our own hands). In the Bible, time is defined in two different ways. There is "chronos" or "chronological" time, which is governed by the clock or the calendar. Then there is "kairos" time, which is governed by God. It is, if you will, "pregnant time." Things happen when they are ready, not one minute before or after.

            The birth of a child, and the days which follow, reorients our sense of time. An infant is fed when she is hungry. A diaper is changed when it needs to be. A cry brings a response, no matter when it happens. For parents, these days can be very tiring, and very rewarding. Eventually, routines do develop (thank God!) and chronos time gradually takes over. However, itís important that we not lose a sense of the kairos timing that needs to be a part of the nurturing of a growing child.

            Yes, there is a somewhat predictable path that the development of a young person takes on the journey to adulthood and beyond. However, things happen when the time is right. Each child develops in her own way, in (her/his) own time, or should we say - in Godís time (kairos). We need to remember this - as parents, as family, as church - and "wait upon the Lord" as we help our children to grow.

            Itís time to dedicate a precious child to the Lord. ______________, would you bring ______ forward? When we dedicate a child, we also dedicate ourselves to the task of raising (her/him), praying that God will protect, provide, and guide all along the way of her development as a (woman/man)-to-be, a (woman/man) of faith. Each child is a gift from God. Each one belongs to God, something we should never forget. Our children are not our possessions. God entrusts us with them for a season. All-too-soon, we will release them. But for now, we are blessed with their care.

            Of course, parenting can have its uncomfortable times, and its moments when all you can do is watch and pray as a young person makes (her/his) own choices, trusting that (she/he) has been grounded in the example and teachings of (her/his) family and church. However, a blessing remains from the nine-months of waiting for (her/him) to first enter this world - the blessing of kairos. It is ultimately Godís time-frame that governs (her/his) world and yours. Therein we find our hope. "Please be patient with me," a button upon each young person should read, "God is not finished with me yet."

Family Commitment

            __________, God is not finished with you yet, either. With ________ in your arms, I invite you now to speak your vows to the Lord.

         "Trusting in the Lord to protect, provide, and guide, we promise to raise Elise in a loving home where she may grow, as she is ready, into the unique person God has created her to be. Through word and example we will teach her the way of Christ, and encourage her such that one day she may choose to follow Jesus as her Lord and Savior, being baptized, and fully participating in the life and work of the body of Christ."

optional, if older sibling:

            ______, not long ago this was you in your parentís arms, being dedicated to the Lord. You have grown so fast. We can hardly believe it. Weíre proud of you, and we know you will be a great big (brother/sister) to _______. I have just one question for you. Do you promise to keep loving your (sister/brother), and tell her about Jesus? ____ I thought you would!

Congregation Commitment

                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. 1  

Consecration
(The child is held and introduced to the congregation, walking down the aisle.
Then, 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. 2 

            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.

Credits

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

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


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 Service 3


©2003, Peter L. Haynes

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