“Sons are a heritage from the Lord; children a reward from him.” ~Psalm 127:3
On at least four ocassions in the Gospels, parents are shown to be bringing their children to Jesus. And he welcomed them gladly. They brought their kids to Jesus that he should touch them, that he would bless them and teach them. And he did. Jesus took little kids in his arms, he placed his hand on their heads in blessing, he prayed for them. He also warns us sternly not to ignore them or neglect them or discourage them in any way because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to our little children and he’s not willing that any of them should be lost.
Scripture tells us plainly that children are a blessing from our God, a precious gift from our Father; received on trust, on loan, because they do belong first and foremost to him. And just as we dedicate our own lives to God through Christ, we dedicate our children to him. We thank God for this priceless gifts. And we ask him to use our children and work with them and through them as he sees fit.
Our church family at Central follows the tradition of Scripture in our baby dedication or baby blessing ceremonies. As a body of believers, as a family of God, we spent yesterday together publicly recognizing God’s proprietership, his ownership, of our kids. They belong to him. And we know that. And we give him thanks. Our children should be taught that they belong to God. And we should treat them as if they belong to God. Because they do.
And then we brought up twelve brand new babies and their parents, twelve precious children that have been born into the church family over the past twelve months. And we blessed them. We thanked God for them. We promised to stand by them in feeding and nurturing their children in the words and ways of our God. We listened as the new parents promised to raise their children in Christ. And then we vowed as a church to help them raise these babies in the Lord.
And then we shared communion together. With our children. Teenagers jumped out of their pews to join their parents on opposite sides of the worship center. Some parents went to where their children were sitting. Little communion huddles broke out all over the auditorium as our adults interacted with our kids. Some leaned over to interact with the children sitting in front of them. Some men and women turned completely around in their pews to visit with the kids behind them. Others hopped across aisles and switched sections just to share the celebratory feast with a child. And we shared our stories as we shared the meal. This is what the bread means to me. This is what I think about when I drink the cup. Before Christ saved me I used to be this; now by the grace of God I’m this! Here’s a passage of Scripture I always meditate on during communion. Here’s my favorite communion song. Here’s the reason we eat this bread and drink this cup.
Yeah, it was uncomfortable for some of us. We’re so used to being quiet and hushing our children during communion. So, generally, our kids just sit and stare at their feet or read or color while the bread and the cup and THE STORY pass right by them! Not yesterday. Yesterday at Central, we rehearsed the gospel story with our children during the weekly ritual that’s God-ordained for that very purpose. And it was beautiful.
A couple of you have asked for a copy of the vows we took together as a congregation yesterday regarding the raising of our children. You need to know they were written well before I got here. There have been versions of this done here at Central for many years. We think Ken Danley may have written the version I worked from yesterday. I tweaked a couple of the phrases to fit in more closely with the Ephesians 6:4 passage we had interpreted during the sermon. And it may change a little each year to reflect the specific context of the time. You can click here to download a copy of our congregational Baby Dedication vows.
It’s come down to tonight’s final game in the Central Staff Bowl Challenge. If Alabama wins, I’ll finish in first place, nine points ahead of Tiffani. If LSU wins, Greg takes the top prize and I finish fourth behind him and Matthew and Tiffani. Somewhere in the Mid Cities, Jackie Crain is smiling, knowing that if I were still in North Richland Hills, she’d be winning another free lunch on another Crimson Tide victory.
The Central staff should note that, should Alabama win it tonight, y’all are taking me to Famous Dave’s and I’m getting two meats!