Summary: A Child Dedication Ceremony
Baby Dedication Service
November 20th, 2005
What we are about to do together as a congregation has great significance. We do not baptize infants in this church, believing that Scripture clearly teaches baptism as a personal choice for the believer and a response to God’s call on your life and the Salvation experience of an individual. Clearly a child cannot make the decision to be baptized or not to be baptized at a very young age, they would have no choice. So, we follow in a tradition and heritage that is centuries old of presenting our children to God by way of dedication. We see this in the gospels when Christ’s mother and father brought him to the temple to present him to God. This time is really a public confession on the part of the parents to raise their children according to God’s word and to teach them to obey His commands and to do everything that they can to bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ.
So, the ceremony, this time we are entering into has nothing to do with the salvation of the child. It is not a magic formula whereby the child receives a free pass into heaven. It is a promise, on the part of the parents, to follow god’s call in raising their child and setting their child apart for God’s service.
Read Mark 10:13-16
It was the custom of the day for the parents to bring their children to the teacher or Rabbi and ask for God’s blessing on the child. As the parents began to bring their children to Jesus, the disciples (always just not quite getting it!) begin to rebuke the parents and send the children away. Maybe they thought Jesus was too busy to be bothered, maybe they thought that the children were not important and that Jesus shouldn’t have to deal with the distraction. Whatever their reasoning, Jesus made it clear that children had a special place in His heart and that the parents were right in their thinking., He encouraged the parents to bring the children to Him. And what a shock it must have been to those poor disciples when Christ took time for each child, He didn’t simply touch them, we’re told He took them into His arms and you can picture here the joy on His face as He interacted and played with the children. What a beautiful picture this gives us of Christ, but that’s another sermon for another day.
So, the parents today follow a noble heritage of bringing their children and dedicating them to the Lord, acknowledging the awesome responsibility of raising them to be godly in a godless society, and asking God’s blessing on them.
Dedication of Baby
In the passage we read this morning, Jesus not only shows his love and affection for the children, but he uses the moment to teach the disciples a lesson. He says that the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these, those who are like children. Then He elaborates and said: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Christ was saying that in order for us to enter into the kingdom of God and to receive the salvation that Christ has for us, we need to display some of the characteristics that all of us are born with, but most of us grow out of as we learn some of the hard lessons of this world. There are many child-like characteristics that I think Christ was hinting at here because there is so much purity and innocence in a child - but I want to look at three specifically that we need to make sure are a part of our life and that we can be reminded of as we look at the children who are being dedicated here this morning.
The first Child-like characteristic that we need to have is dependence. God wants us to look to Him and depend on Him to supply those things we need to live out our days in accordance with His will for us. You don’t have to teach a child to be dependent. They have no choice.
I remember when we brought Ethan home form the hospital and walking through the door of our apartment and thinking, OK, now what? They don’t send you home with directions and I remember feeling like somehow they shouldn’t have let us go with this baby so soon because we didn’t know what to do. Our baby was completely dependent upon us to supply all of his needs.
I remember waking up that first morning (actually waking up for the fifth or sixth time that morning!) and Ethan was in the bed with us and he was just looking at me. We stared at each other for a long time and it hit me what a great privilege and responsibility it was to be able to care for this little guy. At that moment I wanted to take care of anything that he needed because in that moment, I was convinced that no one could care for him like I could. He was dependent on us and he still is to a large degree. We fed him, we cleaned him up, we comforted him. For the first time I understood God’s love for us.