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May 12, 2005

As if you needed to hear another thing I hate about cancer.

I LOVED being a pastor. I miss it. It is who I was. There were several chaplain-related reasons for this that you have heard about here ad infinitum, but another joy of the pastorate was that it gave me an outlet for my writing.

I stumbled across this child dedication service I wrote for a Christmas Eve service in 2003 and I thought you might be interested. I put it in a jump so it wouldn't fill up the screen too far, so go on and click. CAUTION: don't praise it too highly or I might be tempted to start putting up sermons.

Leader: Naked into the world we came, naked of mind and spirit and body, waving our tiny arms in the bright confusion of this strange world and this strange life.

Helpless we come, without food or clothing, without maps or knowledge, without language to ask our way to whatever Unknown destination may lie before us.

With no armor, with no guilt, in innocence, unknowing, we trustfully set forth.

Who will take our hands and lead us? Who will make sandals for our tender feet? Who will draw forth our smiles with a smile?

Who will teach us to love with their love? Who will teach us to speak with the words of their mouth? Who will teach us right by their rightness? Who will show us the truth through their truthfulness? Who will lead us to do justly through their justice?

Congregation: We will.

Leader: To you parents is given the awesome privilege to be the givers and shapers of a growing person. And to this congregation is given the privilege and responsibility to share the concern for his/her growth and religious nurture. Before us is the challenge of a questioning mind, the unfolding wonder of selfhood and the response to the world and other persons. Can we respond to that challenge with the best that is in us, seeking not to make our children like us, but rather to help them find themselves and their own ways?

Parents: We can.

Leader: We can.

Congregation: We can.

Leader: From the beginning of time, men and women have brought their children to the houses of worship for dedication. In the presence of the congregation, the child is given a name, and the parents declare their responsibility for their child. Nicholas and John leave here with not only their given names, but now their Christian names as well.

We come to a house of worship out of reverence for the mystery of life that we have seen in the miracle of reproduction and birth. We acknowledge the mystery of the power that is in us and works through us, and we are humble before that mystery.

Parents: In this act we declare that the (Nicholas/John) is an individual, a unique and separate person with a dignity and life of his own. Our children come from us, but they are not ours. They are themselves, individuals. In giving this child a name we declare that we will respect him as himself and give him the freedom to grow. We perform this ceremony publicly to declare that we as parents, and all of us as representatives of this society, are responsible for the care and development of all children.

Congregation: It is our task to give them a world of peace and justice in which to grow. It is our task to share with them our ideals and our hopes.

Leader: By presenting your child here, today, you the parents, acknowledge that the child is more than a private possession, but is a new being in which we all have a responsibility, and whom we all welcome to the community.

And so the children come. And so they have been coming. Always in the same way they come - Born of the seed of man and woman. No angels herald their beginnings. No prophets predict their future courses; no wise men see a star to point their way to find the babe that may save humankind.

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night. Fathers and mothers - sitting beside their children's cribs - feel glory in the wondrous sight of a life beginning. They ask: "When or how will this new life end? Or will it ever end?" Each night a child is born is a holy night.

Do you, the congregation of West Side Baptist Church, dedicate yourselves to the Christian care and nurture of these children?

Congregation: We do.

Leader: Do you, Steve and Angie and Amanda, dedicate yourselves to the Christian care and nurture love of Nicholas Paynter for as long as God shall entrust him to your care?

Steve, Angie, Amanda: We do.

Leader: Do you, John and Jessica, dedicate yourselves to the Christian care and nurture and love of John Logan Chandler for as long as God shall entrust him to your care?

John, Jessica: We do.

Pastoral Dedication

Prayer of Dedication

Posted by Dan at May 12, 2005 10:14 PM

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I'm not even Christian, Dan, and I'd love to be a member of your online congregation should you decide to do Sunday Sermons on here.

Posted by: Larime at May 13, 2005 05:37 PM

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