On one of my mission trips to the Philippines, I had the privilege of witnessing a baby dedication service in a church on a Sunday afternoon. Interestingly, it is not integrated into the main service. It is a service in itself; with worship, a short sharing from the Word of God followed by the dedication ceremony. What followed truly ‘opened’ my eyes –
During the dedication ceremony, upon the pastor’s introduction, both parents walked down the aisle to where the pastor was standing. Dad was carrying the child (to be dedicated to God). The pastor then called out some names. As each name was being called out, they would walk down the aisle (each with a gift in their hands) to where the pastor and the parents of the child were standing. Each one would then (led by the pastor) dedicate themselves to God, and declare their commitment to being a part of the child’s life; to nurture, love, care, protect and provide as spiritual parent(s), and as a community to bring up the child. They also dedicated themselves before God to come alongside the child’s parents as they bring up the child. They then placed their gift on the table (prepared for the dedication ceremony) and stood together with the parents. Who are these people, and how are they related to the child or to the parents of the child? They are church members, relatives and friends. The pastor then led the parents in dedicating their child to God and together the father and mother committed themselves to bringing up the child in the nurture and in the way of God. A community came together; not only to celebrate with the parents but they see themselves as integral part of the child’s life journey.
It was such a heart-warming, meaningful and memorable service for me – Community strength and partnership. We may not have baby dedication service conducted in this manner, but truly as a community in Fairfield and as a body of Christ, we can express our community strength and partnership to one another; families, singles, single parents, through various overt or covert ways.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
1. Prayer: Pray with and for our children. Every day. Never stop praying. Never stop believing. Never stop trusting God. Consistent prayer is essential. We need to build a foundation of faith not only for ourselves as parents but for our children as well. Knowing that our children are gifts from God to provide for and protect, we need to show the love and grace of Jesus, and prepare them for their own journey or passage through life. Their own daily experiences, circumstances and the overall course of their lives are things we can never really get to decide — or have any control over. Let us therefore, not allow their current or any circumstances to overshadow God’s power and authority over their lives. We must remember God is in control. Even if our child is currently running away or gone astray from God, or even rejecting Him. Enter into prayer, for prayer can change everything.
Testimony: An elderly lady has been praying for a next-of-kin for years. Her next-of-kin received the Lord as her Saviour in her teens. She was very fervent for the things of God and was actively serving in church. But as she grew into adulthood, she crafted a different path for herself. After numerous times of advice (out of love and concern), and then being unceremoniously told off not to talk about God and church, the elderly lady knew only God can restore and save. The elderly lady’s constant prayer has always been, “God restore her heart back to You. Let her have a personal encounter with You. I know she will be safe and fine when she calls upon Your Name again.” One morning of this year, the elderly lady received a message from her next-of-kin requesting for prayer and guidance. God has been tremendously amazing in revealing Himself and showing Himself faithful to her next-of-kin through the many answered prayers. Since that day, she has been reading the Word of God, trusting God and praying for herself as well.
The Lord has indeed answered the elderly lady’s prayer, after 15 years of praying. God indeed is faithful to those who call upon Him. Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
2. We are a community: Don’t do it alone. We are not alone. We all need community. We are in the church community. Community is God’s desire for us to grow together and mature in our faith. It is crucial for us and our children to have strong, faith-based relationships. It strengthens our love for one another. Besides our own family, we need people to help point us and our children in the right direction. Let us attend church as a family, serve in church as a family and attend a small group and find any opportunity to serve as a family. The church is filled with people we can lean on, seek help and guidance through the seasons and challenges of parenting and our personal life. Never shy away or be in fear from seeking prayer support and help knowing full well the welfare and concerns of one another, and our children is our shared community’s responsibility and a privilege.
Psalm 68:5-6 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Romans 12: 9-18 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.