At Covenant Life, child dedications go something like this: our time of singing ends. A pastor stands and begins to speak. We're about to dedicate some of the children of our members to the Lord, he says. We're not baptizing these little ones--some day, when they have put their faith in Jesus Christ, we hope they will be back on this stage to take that step for themselves. As the pastor talks, twenty or so baby-laden couples leave their seats in the auditorium and move to join him on stage. A slide show plays on the screen behind the stage, showing a picture of each child who is being dedicated. After this, the pastor encourages the parents for their desire to honor God in their parenting. He reminds them of the grace of God that is available to them in their great task. He expresses the pastors' and the congregation's commitment to support parents as they seek to raise their little ones in the fear and admonition of the Lord. He then prays for the parents, and the whole church joins him. He says amen. Cameras around the auditorium flash and click, and then everyone returns to their seats.
Dave and I participate in these child dedications because they provide us with a chance to express our utter dependence on our Father in heaven. We know that our kids are a gift from Him. We know that our kids belong, ultimately, to Him. That means we're accountable to Him for how we parent. And we know that we can't please Him in our parenting without His help.
We also know that we need the help of our church family. We need the wisdom of those who have done this before. We need the prayers of our pastors, family and friends. We need the observations of those who see us in action with our kids. We need encouragement in the times when our job seems too big, too hard and too long.
And so we plan to take each child God gives us up on that stage. It's a way of saying, We need You, Lord. It's a way of saying, We need you, church. It's a way of saying, This whole parenting thing? It's way too much for us to handle on our own. But with God's help, and the grace that He provides through His Word and His Spirit and His people, we will honor the Lord in our parenting and pray that our children's lives will honor Him too.
Obviously, we take the dedication of our children very seriously. But that doesn't mean there's no comedy involved. During Matthew's dedication, it quickly became apparent that he was not focused on the weighty matters at hand. No, in fact, he was entirely absorbed in making overtures to the baby girl on his immediate right! I can't say that I blame him--this little girl's dress had a fluffy, white chiffon skirt with red velveteen bits embedded in it. Very eye-catching. Very tantalizing. Matthew wanted to touch that skirt. Matthew had to touch that skirt! And so he grabbed that skirt and touched and tugged to his heart's content, despite his mommy's attempts to remove him from temptation. (It was sorta crowded on that stage. I could only move so much without drawing even more attention to us.) This all took place during our pastor's prayer, but anyone in the audience who didn't have his eyes closed would have seen our son's flirtation writ large on the screen behind us, as the camera operators zoomed in on Matthew's antics. Oh well. All the more reason why we need God's help to raise you, Son!
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the dedication itself. But here are some that I snapped later to commemorate the day, the bulk of which we spent at my dad and mom's house.
the little man of the hour
Is he cuteness personified, or what?
having a heart-to-heart with his Nana
Cubby and Meggers, who were both there to support us as we dedicated the boy, having some reading time after lunch.
All day I wanted a picture of Matthew with Daddy and Mama. Alas, our only chance to take one was late at night, after Dave and I returned from attending a wedding and woke Matthew up to take him home. We were all exhausted, as you can probably see. It had been a big day!