Child Dedication: An evangelical alternative to infant baptism in which parents stand before the church and commit to raising their child, with the help of others, in the ways of the Lord.
He is seven months old now. I can still remember his so-small days, just home from the hospital, when he would curl into my neck like a comma.
Now he sits strong and tall, reaches fast and far to grab what he wants. He will be crawling soon, every day growing into his own person.
I know how the dedication will go, because we did it with Dane when he was this age. I will wear a skirt; I will curl my hair. I will make him wear his collared onesie.
We will stand on the stage of our church’s sanctuary in front of some friends, some family, mostly people we still don’t know, because it takes years of Sundays for this building to begin to feel like your building, these people your people.
The pastor will phrase things in ways that make me cringe, but I will try not to be obvious about it. He will ask us things like “Do you hereby promise to raise your child up in the Lord? If so, say ‘We do.’”
I will say it, say, “We do,” along with Andrew, like you’re supposed to. But what I am really saying is this:
I will let you squish your fingers in the mud, rub it all over your clothes. I will try to explain how God formed Adam, straight from the earth.
When you are a little bit older, we will wear plastic caps and funnel rice into bags for the hungry, find Darfur on the map. We will buy toys, and it will be so hard to give them away to a family in need, but when you do, you will begin to understand, dear one, the joy of loving others.
I will say the wrong thing every time. I have baggage that I don’t even know about, and it will affect the mother I am. I will lose my patience, yell angry words when I should speak love. I will press you when you don’t want to talk; I will embarrass you in front of your friends.
But I will try. I will do my best not to give you pat answers. I will try not to make God small so that he is easier for all of us to manage. I will go camping, even though I hate camping, just so we can lie in the grass and look up at the great mysterious sky with all its stars.
You are part of a Great Tradition of those who have tried to know what is to live in Light of God’s love. You will go your own way. There may be a time when you will need to find yourself apart from this, and that’s okay. We will be here still, this community of the broken and beloved.
It is Child Dedication Sunday. We say we are “dedicating you to the Lord,” but really, we are saying, We are here, saying, This is your home.
We are holding you in our midst, saying, Grow in the strength of this love; live free in the light of this truth.