By Gene Tempelmeyer
Scott and Kate Moore are becoming adept at dedicating themselves to Christ-following parenthood. First was Ava. Then came Claire. On Sunday, January 11, we will join them in thanking God for Hailey and praying the Holy Spirit’s help as they raise Hailey and her sisters.
The Dedication of Parents and Children is the worship experience we want to help our children learn about this month (see the article on p.3). Children and youth will remain upstairs a few extra minutes so they can participate.
If you have seen dedications at Spring Garden before there may be some customs you have wondered about. A Parental Dedication can contain a number of important elements:
- We thank God for the gift of the child and pray for healthy growth in the child in every part of their being;
- Parents make a formal commitment to do their best to raise the child in a way that follows the teaching and example of Christ and we pray for the parents as they make this commitment;
- The people of the church make a formal commitment to help these parents love the child into a wholesome disciple of Jesus.
When we pray for people at Spring Garden we generally invite the congregation to stretch a hand toward those for whom we are praying. This is an ancient symbol of offering a blessing. Often the child will be anointed with oil which is an ancient symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
In our tradition we do not baptize infants but, instead, wait until they are old enough to make a meaningful decision on their own that they wish to be baptized. Sometimes a family will approach us about a liturgy that cannot meet all these elements. For example, the parents and child may live a distance from Spring Garden but nevertheless want to celebrate the birth of a child with grandparents, family and friends here. In this case it would be unfair to ask the congregation to commit to help them, and so we arrange a family celebration after worship one Sunday. Our goal is to include the various elements of dedication as fully as people are willing and able to commit themselves with integrity.
If you would like to arrange a Dedication or Family Celebration speak with Pastor Sam or Pastor Gene.
Preparing For January 11
Here are a few ideas you might want to consider to help your child understand and prepare to participate in a Parental Dedication.
- If you went through a similar ritual with your children, dig out any photo albums or video you have to show your child(ren). Tell them the story of the day. Who was there? Was there a party afterward? Did anyone give them a present?
- If you had a dedication at Spring Garden you selected a Scripture to read at the time of their dedication. Read that Scripture to them and explain why you chose it for them.
- Tell them how excited you were to become their parent, and how the longer you have them in your life, the more you love them and are grateful that God shared them with you.
- Explain that there will come a time when all the church will be asked to reach out their hand to the baby. Show them how to do this and explain this is a way they can add to the prayer.
- Also explain that this is a very serious promise parents are making to their children, and people in the church want and need to be able to hear what the people up front are saying.
- Ask them how they think bigger kids can help little kids follow Jesus. Are there things another kid can do that maybe an adult would not be able to do as well?
Next Month we will be coaching all our kids on how to participate in Prayers of the People. If you have tips or ideas on how parents can help their children participate in such prayer, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.