Service of Blessing and Dedication
Christmas is a
very appropriate time to dedicate a child to the Lord, to
"wrap her," so to speak, "in the swaddling
clothes" of Godís love. This morning is especially fitting
because it was on this fourth Sunday of Advent three years ago
that _______ and _______ _______ were baptized. Just last summer,
on August 5th, their fourth child, _______, was born.
Today, we want to consecrate her and her parents. We also want to
dedicate _______ís older sisters. We didnít know them back
when they were born, but now we do.
This day is
appropriate for another reason. I just happened to pull out a
previous dedication file and thereby remembered the day 15 years
ago when our worship leader and her husband - who had themselves
recently joined this church, brought their newborn son along with
his two older brothers to be dedicated (their daughter, whom we
baptized last week, wasnít on the scene yet). Donít worry
_______, _______, and _______, weíve dedicated older siblings
before, just ask _______ and _______. Now, would the Lewis family
now come forward.
As members of
the Church of the Brethren, we believe that baptism is for adults,
for those who have come to recognize their own sin and need for a
savior. Baptism is given to those who repent and come to a
confession of faith.
children who are born and/or welcomed into our congregation belong
to Jesus also, and they belong in a special way. Just as those
lambs we remember in the Christmas story were part of the flock of
those Shepherds who visited the manger, so our children are a part
of this flock, this congregation. They share in its mission, its
traditions, and its experiences.
In order to
show the world that children are not cast adrift in life, but that
they belong to a people, the people of God, we share in a service
of consecration of children and parents.
we are blessed in multiple ways. Each blessing has a name -
_______, _______, _______, and _______. With these blessings in
mind, we commit ourselves - our promises grounded in Godís
promises to us. In a few moments, _______ and _______ will pledge
to provide the kind of home in which their children will have
opportunity to recognize and confess Christ as Lord. It is right
that they should promise this since they are the part of the
congregation closest to these girls, and they will be providing
most of their religious education by word and example.
the older three help me show off _______ to the congregation, I
will take each one of these precious children in my arms (in some
fashion, that is) and dedicate each to God, on behalf of the
church. Finally, as a congregation we shall stand as a symbol that
we welcome these little (and not so little) ones as part of our
fellowship, that we will accept them, teach them, support and
guide them. We will stand as an act of accepting a part of the
responsibility for their spiritual welfare, and as a pledge that
we will do our part as members of their family of God.
_______, God has been good to you in giving you the gift of these
precious children. Do you now present them before God in solemn
Response: We do
Will you, with
Godís help, provide a Christian home for them and bring them up
in the worship and the teaching of the church so that they may
come to know Christ as their Savior?
Response: We will.
continue in your marriage to love each other, as well as to love
_______, _______, _______, and _______, so that they will come to
experience the meaning of trust and grace?
Response: We will.
encourage them later to be received into the full fellowship of
the church through baptism, so that, established by faith in the
Holy Spirit, they may partake of the Lordís Supper and go forth
into the world to serve God faithfully?
Response: We will.
presented your children in dedication, will you also present
yourselves in re-consecration to Christ and his church, and will
you so order your lives that you will not cause these little ones
to stumble but, relying on the grace of God, commend Christ to
them by your example?
Response: With Godís help, we will.
(with _______ in my arms, aided by her sisters, weíll
"show her" - and them - off to the congregation,
walking down and back the center aisle. Afterward, each will
be dedicated with the following words:)
_______ ________, you are dedicated to the Lord. May all the
resources of home, family, and church nurture you and encourage
you toward your own decision for Jesus Christ.
accept _______, _______, _______, and _______ into your fellowship
and share the responsibility for their spiritual nurture? Will you
support them and love them? Will you be faithful to your calling
as members of the Body of Christ so that they and all other
children in our midst may grow up in the knowledge and love of
Christ? If so, will you stand?
Lord God, who
gives life in Jesus Christ, bless these children, as Jesus blessed
the children in his earthly ministry. Grant your grace to these
parents that they by word and example remind these children of
their consecration to you. And grant that this church may, with
insight and energy, rise to assume its task in behalf of all
parents and children. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
our Tithes and Offerings
On this day
before Christmas, letís turn our eyes - for just a moment - beyond
the birth of a baby, and gaze not upon a manger but upon the cross.
The two (a simple stable and an old, rugged cross) are not all that
far apart in the bigger picture of Godís good news. To help us
focus, letís Ďincline our earsí to the word portrait painted
by the author of the book of Hebrews, in that Australian paraphrase
weíve used before. Listen.
|"Christ came into the world saying,
........"God, you donít want more sacrifices and
................I know you get no pleasure from all that
........................even when itís done sincerely and
by the book.
........But you have prepared a body for me, God,
................and I come now to do what you really want,
........................for it is what I do that is really
Ďby the bookí.
see what heís saying there? Heís saying that God gets
neither satisfaction nor pleasure from all the different
kinds of offerings that the law prescribed for sin and for
various other things. And heís going further than that
because heís saying that heís here to do what God really
wants. This is a total change over. He is abolishing the
previous system and putting a new one in place. So now,
according to what God really wanted, Jesus has dealt with
sin once and for all, at the cost of his own body, and
brought us all up to scratch for God."
Hebrews 10:5-10 (Laughing
©2000 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
We give, not to
bring ourselves "up to scratch for God" (as that
down-under paraphrase put it), to make things right with our
Creator. Jesus has already done that, "once and for all."
Our offerings, instead, lead us from the cross and out into the
world, where children born every manger need God. You are invited
into this Advent-ure. Ushers?