He Laid His Hands On Them
Today we celebrate Child dedication. These parents before us have brought their children to be blessed by God. Just like the parents in the time of Jesus brought their children to the Master so these parents are bringing their children to receive God's blessing. As these parents bring their children to the church for dedication they recognize the enormous task of raising a child in today's world. You have heard saying, "it takes a village to raise a child". The same applies to bringing up a child in the Christian Faith. We are all accountable to liveout our faith before these little ones in such a way that I will recognize the love of God in us.
The birth of children has to do with God’s work in both creation and redemption. In the act of consecration (which means “to make sacred”), we praise God with the Psalmist who says, “for it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14a). God has indeed giving you a sacred trust to take care of this child.
Khalil Gibran writes in The Prophet, “And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, speak to us of children. And he said: your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts, you may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the House of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and the bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archers hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies so he also loves the bow that is stable.”
God has a delight not only in the little children but also in the parents whom he has entrusted with this sacred gift. In Child Dedication we bring our newborn children into a relationship with the body of Christ. We do not practice the baptism of children who are still innocent and cannot choose for themselves. However, the practice of Child dedication is a declaration that the atoning work of Christ includes all who are born. Children remain in a state of grace until the age of accountability when they come to their own faith in Christ or choose another way. When infants are presented to God and to the church, they are placed in the care of the church. With Christian parents, the children can grow up with and into their parents’ faith. In the service of dedication, the parents commit themselves to this calling.
Jesus made children a model of faith (Mk. 10:13-16). Their dependant and trusting natures make them receptive to God’s presence in their lives. It is the task of families and the church family to nurture this faith and to prepare the children for a more mature time in life when they perceive the call of Christ and accept Christ’s claim on their lives.
At one point in his ministry Parents brought their little children to Jesus. These parents new the significance of a divine blessing upon their child. But the disciples had other ideas. Like so many of us, they believed that only adults can have a spiritual life. Jesus took this opportunity to teach his followers that they must become like children if they would enter the Kingdom of God. Then Jesus laid his hands on them and blessed them.
As parents we can learn a profound spiritual truth from Jesus’ example. Regardless of our age we all have a need to be accepted, affirmed and blessed. Giving our blessing to our children is extremely important to them. They need to know that we love them for who they are.
As we focus our attention on these children today, we want to accept them, affirmed them, and bless them. We want to let them know how special they are first to their parents and immediate family, but then also to this community of faith. We want to pray for them, teach them, discipline them, and loved them. We want to stand with the parents in this great and sacred task of raising up a child in the ways of the Lord. May God grant us joy a on this journey.