This coming Sunday, Laura and I will stand before our congregation and have Micah “dedicated to the Lord.” In every church that I have attended (of which I consider Grace to be the fourth), we have this phenomenon of having two ragged parents up on the platform, handing over their screaming baby to the pastor, whom he subsequently prays over and quickly hands back before something comes spewing out of its mouth.
Although it may be the cynic in me, I tend to believe that this is one of those many rituals that is done out of habit in the Church, with any underlying or historical meaning lost in the trendy clothes, the photo ops, and the laughably cute behavior of the baby. So why do we dedicate our children?
I’m sure part of it stems from a lack of other rituals that other off-shoots of the Judeo-Christian brand have. We aren’t circumcising our sons on the eighth day as the Jewish people do (and why should we?). As good and proper credo-baptists (i.e., those that hold to believer’s baptism), we do not perform any sprinkling or pouring on our infants, welcoming them into God’s covenantal family as most other churches stemming from the Reformation do. Nor do we catechize and administer first Communion as the Romans do.
So what is a Bible-believing, born from above, credo-baptist to do? Or, probably better, why have Laura and I decided to “dedicate our children?” The answer is not to parade them up front and watch the congregation ooh and aah. For us, the answer is in the way Jace, the senior pastor at Berean Bible Church (church 3 of 4), always described it. It’s less about dedicating the child, and more about dedicating the parents.
To be sure, the Bible talks about Hannah dedicating Samuel to God after his birth. Joseph and Mary presented Jesus to God. But in as much as we are presenting Micah to the Lord, it is ultimately our son’s choice later in life whether to follow in that path. I tend to think that both Samuel and Jesus were exceptional cases. What I’m interested in is what I have a stake in:
Are Laura and I committed to raising our sons in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? (whoa, KJV tradition poking through…) Are we recognizing that, while we are the primary spiritual caretakers of these boys, we still need help in the process? Are we asking for accountability and encouragement along the way from those that we do life with?
The answer to all of these is yes. We need the Sunday School teachers, and the nursery workers, and the youth leaders, and every one else that volunteers their time in order to contribute to the spiritual well-being of our boys! We rely upon our family members. We need our friends. We humbly request that you build us up when we are at our wit’s end, and that you point out to us when we seem to be lacking in any given area.
This is why, at least on our part, why we are doing what we’re doing on Sunday. Yes, we’ll dress spiffy, take a few pictures, go out to eat afterwards, and hopefully not have any meltdowns in the process. But in the end — make no mistake — this is about our promise to God and our boys, and asking our fellow believers to help us in the process. We are dedicating ourselves to the task.