Baby dedication is a symbolic Christian ritual that is undertaken by the parents of the child to dedicate their child to the Lord. This ritual symbolizes that a child is a divine gift to parents, so by dedicating him to the Lord, they solemnly promise to bring up their child according to His principles and instructions.
Welcoming a new member into the family is a joyous moment in one's life. As a part of thanksgiving to the Lord, the baby dedication ceremony is conducted. The parents submit their child
unto God's will, and pledge to spiritually raise and nurture their child. Parents are the representatives of God. It is therefore their responsibility to bring up their child in the fear of the Lord with love, care, and faith. Raising your child according to God's words and instructions will help him revere the Lord with all his heart and soul. Thereby the parents make a commitment to bring up their baby in adherence to God's principles.
Considered as a revered event, dedication is a pledge made by the parents in the presence of God to raise their child in utmost Christian faith.
Certain things need to be considered and dealt with while conducting a baby dedication ceremony.
If you are planning to organize a baby dedication ceremony, you need to know about the ceremony and how it is conducted. However, it may vary from church to church.
It is advised that the parents talk about the dedication ceremony in advance with the pastor.
It is important that before the ceremony the pastor counsels the parents about the meaning of child dedication.
The pastor explains to the parents their duties in bringing up the baby in the fear of the Lord and the importance of family prayer.
The service begins with the pastor introducing the family to the congregation. The pastor then speaks about the importance of dedication. The pastor may ask the family to reason out the need for dedication.
The parents holding the baby, along with the siblings, grandparents, and close family members stand in the front of the congregation. The father and the mother of the baby usually stand to the right of the pastor while the grandparents stand to the left of the pastor.
Initially it is the mother who holds the baby but as the service proceeds the baby is handed over to the father who is considered the head of the family. However, for the prayer of dedication the pastor holds the baby.
The passages 1 Samuel 1:11
and Luke 2:22
are read out from the Bible, setting an example before the parents as to what commitment to God truly means.
❖ Deuteronomy 6:4
is read out from the old testament, where God instructs the people to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. The pastor also instructs the parents to love God, and teach and guide the child to follow the same.
Then the parents make a commitment where the pastor asks them to pledge before the Lord to bring up their child according to His Word.
The pastor then prays to the Church to make a vow. The church pledges to support and help the child through their prayers.
Later a prayer for the baby is made, and the baby is blessed.
The father hands over the baby to the pastor for the prayer of dedication.
After the prayer, a certificate is presented by the pastor to the family. The certificate is an acknowledgment that the baby has been dedicated, mentioning the date and the pastor who conducted the ceremony.
The ceremony concludes with the recessional hymn in context to dedication.
At least one parent needs to be a member of the church where the ceremony is to be conducted.
It is very much possible that the baby may be quietly sleeping or may start crying during the event. Anticipate the situations and act accordingly.
A baby is a legacy or an inheritance consecrated by God. So send out invitation cards to those you feel need to be a part of your most blessed occasion. Let all gather together and pray for the baby's well-being and prosperity.
During the service, photographs may be clicked. An album can be made so as to cherish the sweet memories throughout life.
Lunch or dinner can be arranged for the invitees. You could also carry a present for the baby.
History shows that there exists references of baby dedication in the Bible. There are descriptions about baby dedication in the Old as well as the New Testament of the Bible.
In the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 1:11,
we come across a barren woman Hannah. Here, Hannah made a solemn promise to the Lord that if she bore a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord.
Likewise in the New Testament, in Luke 2:22,
Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord, eight days after Jesus' birth.
Dedication and Baptism
One must note that child dedication is not the same as child baptism.
The Bible instructs all Christians to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Mark 16:16
says; "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Baptism, followed by Protestants and Roman Catholics, is a sacrament that symbolizes that the baby is a new member of the Church. It is an outward expression of the inward affirmation of being saved.
On the other hand, the believers and the born-again Christians believe that a baby by his own will cannot commit his life to God. Thus they only dedicate their child in the Church. The child when old enough to understand about Christianity and the sacrifice of Jesus, may surrender his life to Christ, after which Baptism is conducted. Therefore, they imitate and follow the people from the scriptures, who were all adults and baptized by their own will, by Jesus, John the Baptist, and Jesus' disciples.
Thus we can say that child dedication is followed by believers and born-again Christians and not by the Protestants and Roman Catholics. Instead the Protestants and Roman Catholics follow child baptism.
Even though baby dedication is a ritual followed by the parents, as a part of thanksgiving to God, the final call ultimately lies on the child. The child as an adult solely decides whether to devote his/her life to God.