(refers to Luke
In our journey
of worship thus far this morning, we have traveled with wise men
following a star, which is St. Matthewís story to tell. However,
we know that baby Jesus did not remain in a manger. By the way, a
stable full of animals is the setting St. Luke uses to tell the
good news, complete with watch-keeping shepherds and "glory
to God" angels. Following along with St. Lukeís account in
our worship journey just now, we join a young couple as they bring
their newborn son to "church." Excuse me, I mean to
"the Temple" in Jerusalem. The time had come, you see,
for them to present their child to the Lord.
you will, a crowded place, full of folks wanting to do what is
right in Godís eyes. Along comes a man, a woman, and their baby
almost lost amid all the goings-on of that day. Some of this
familyís hard-earned cash no doubt needed to be spent along the
way. I wonder if, on this trip, there was a room instead of a
stable for them to stay in Jerusalem And, of course, money was
needed to buy the appropriate animal to offer as a sacrifice, for
that was what they did back then - a pair of turtledoves,
scripture says. Now you know whatís behind the gift "my
true love sent to me" "on the second day of
So here come
Mary carrying baby Jesus (was he restless that day?), and Joseph
carrying those turtledoves (were they flapping away?). St. Luke
doesnít share a blow-by-blow account of that simple service. We
just assume all went well as this child was dedicated to the Lord.
Where the story picks up is in the afterward, as this new family
encounters first an old man named Simeon, and then an old woman
named Anna, waiting outside the Temple. Tell me, would you have
allowed an old geezer to grab your infant and sing a song of
blessing? Thatís what Simeon did. Both he and Anna, it says, had
been waiting for this moment to arrive, looking for the Messiah.
What a strange event that must have seemed to the father and
mother of this child. Can you imagine?
there is another young family to whom we need to pay attention on
this day, only we donít have to imagine them off the pages of
the Bible. They are flesh and blood among us, and they bring their
child to present her to the Lord, just like Joseph and Mary did
long ago. There arenít any turtledoves this time around, though
some folks - Iím sure - say all this church stuff is "for
the birds." Believe it or not, I think _____ and _____ are
even going to allow this old geezer to grab their baby for a
blessing. Stranger things have happened, you know.
_____, do you
want to make sure your parents bring your little sister forward
just now? (when they are all up front...) A
child is a gift from God. Of course, there are days as children
grow when parents wonder how much of a gift they really are -
what, with sleep-deprived nights, smelly diapers, larger grocery
bills; or, as one year shifts to the next, with curiosity
empowered by newfound mobility and an ever-expanding ability to
make a mess. "This child a gift from God?" parents may
wonder at times. "Well, God bless Ďem before I do!" Of
course, these "babies" later become tween-agers then
teen-agers, which brings a whole new meaning to sleep-deprived
nights and larger grocery bills for parents, among other things.
not for the weak-of-heart. From the perspective of faith, however,
at the core of parenting lies this understanding that our children
are a gift from God. This doesnít mean they are our possessions,
but rather that they are entrusted into our care - to be blessed
by and to bless - for a relatively short time. We do not
"own" our children. They belong to God, and when we -
like Joseph and Mary long ago - present them to the Lord in Godís
house - like _____ and _____ today - we are getting this straight.
_______ 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.
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
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 older pre-school sibling)
Now _____, you are a very
important part of this family. Will you be the best big (brother/sister) you can
be to _____, helping your mom and dad?
If so, say, "I 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
(The child is held and introduced to the congregation, walking
down the aisle.
The following dedication and prayer is then spoken.)
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.
As the Alleluia choir gets
ready to sing, letís turn back to the gospel story thatís been like a star
guiding our worship this morning and listen to what Jesus once said, not when he
was in the arms of his mother or father, or some old geezer, but when (as a
grown man) he extended his own arms to other children.
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.