This post is late. Months late. But I wanted to post it, because when I looked online for ideas of what to speak to a child at their dedication, I didn’t find much. So I wanted to share the letter we read to sweet Clara in front of our friends and family on the day she was dedicated, March 1, 2015.
It was a busy, snowy day in March. We woke up in Dowagiac, did church, jumped in the car, stopped home (Grand Rapids Home) to change and then pulled in to the parking lot at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville for Clara’s dedication service.
We were spread thin from the business of the day and the service had been cancelled once before due to weather. We rushed into the room where the service was to be held and met up with family while I quickly changed the tiny lady of the hour into her dedication dress and tights.
Then all of the sudden it was time to get started and the officiant from church stood before us and spoke in to life what it meant to dedicate a child to God, as a community, as a family.
Kel stood up and opened the service in prayer.
My Aunt Mar stood up and shared thoughts from Deuteronomy 6 centered around how we as a family would point Clara to God in the little, daily things. While we walked and camped and shared a meal.
My Aunt Besty stood up and shared a verse about Clara being made in the image of God and spoke to her uniqueness and how we as a community would honor that.
Then Kel and I stood up with Clara in our arms and answered some questions about our intentions for raising her in God’s love and in faithful community.
Then I read her this letter, off my iPhone… because I forgot to print it in the frenzy of the weekend.
Today we stand here among our family and friends to dedicate your life to God as we have dedicated both Noelle and Caedmon. We dedicate you not because we think it is the right thing to do, but because you are God’s, he gave you to us to love and guide but ultimately he is the giver and sustainer of this life and we want to do everything we can in our flawed humanity to direct you in his ways.
There will be times in this life that are difficult, and as your parents we won’t always get it right, but our love for you will never diminish, only grow in its abundance and intensity. We recognize and daily acknowledge that we are only able to love you because we are loved so deeply by our creator and sustainer and so we will strive to stay in relationship with God so that we have more of His Love to give you. After all, we cannot give you what we do not have ourselves.
As we dedicate you today we want to make you a few promises. First, we promise to live out our lives and faith openly in front of you, so that we can give you an honest, grace-filled example to follow. Surely you will see us when we are faithful and you will see us when we fumble. We pray we are quick to discuss both with you and apologize when needed, may both be an example to you. We promise to raise you in a community of friends and family, who love you with the same God-given love that we do. We believe that God has sent this village into our lives to sustain, challenge and encourage us and afford us the opportunity to do the same. We promise that as you grow and make mistakes of your own that we will have grace for you, as God has grace for us. You will hear us tell you often, as we do Noelle and Caedmon, “there is nothing you could do that could make us love you less.”
Clara, it is our earnest and heartfelt prayer that you would grow strong in the faith of Christ. That you will grow to know Him in deep and passionate ways, that you see him when you look at his creation, that you would go to him with your hard questions and sit silently with him when life doesn’t make any sense at all. Faith and questions, struggle and success, wandering and returning, these are all a part of the journey of Faith.
May your life will be one that will be spent exploring the plans that God has laid before you and the gifts, ideas and talents that he has woven into your very DNA. We believe that God’s plans for your life are lovely and all in this room consider it a blessing to bear witness to it.
We pray that God gives us the strength as your parents and community to always and ever direct your life in the ways of Christ and to draw your attention to him in the moments we are blessed to share together.
Then we prayed together, over Clara and our family. We dedicated ourselves to be on the journey with her.
Throughout the service Noelle and Caedmon ran around, grabbed my hand and occasionally interrupted the service. It had me wondering if I had any shot at raising this baby in the paths of God as I clearly wasn’t doing such a great job with the other two hooligans, whom I love thankyouverymuch.
But a service isn’t the only tell of a well-raised child, and we are all still learning together, Kel, the kids and I. May we continue to do so, to delve deeply into what’s really going on, to say “I’m sorry,” to laugh and regroup and try again.
I wish I had taken a moment to write a letter like this when Noelle and Caedmon were dedicated, but you can be sure I will be printing this out, framing it, and hanging it in the girls’ room where we can read it and remember.
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