Wed April 25th, 2018
Many of you will be familiar with this famous event of Jesus’s ministry:
Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me. Don't stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16 After taking them in His arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 HCSB
It is clear that Jesus loved children, and dare I say it is natural for us to do so too. I know that sometimes we can get a bit grumpy with children when they are noisy or inconvenient in the way they play, but children are a blessing from God and we should always remember that.
children are a blessing. Ps 37:26 HCSB
Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, children, a reward. Ps 127:3 HCSB
Without children, there are no grown-ups! - We were all children once!
If Jesus blessed children, then so should we!
These days a child does well to survive the womb (the most dangerous place for a child to be because of the incredibly high abortion rate) .In a day and generation where children are often considered a hindrance and a burden, when parents can’t wait to drop them off at nursery or pre-school and dread pick-up time, we try to model and encourage a different attitude, that they enrich our lives and we love being with them.
Technically, what is blessing then? Blessings are best understood by their opposites – curses! We don’t want to curse our children and a blessing is a prayer or declaration over someone that they are to be blessed – have favour from God – have their needs met – that all will be well with them. Knowing the blessing of God on our lives should be our desire and we should particularly want that for our children.
As baptism is a matter of choice and represents a public confession that you are following Jesus we cannot baptise anyone below an age at which they can make that choice and commitment. We dedicate babies and children as requested by their parents in a way that is not dissimilar to Christening or infant baptism, except we do not sprinkle them with water. The act of Dedication is one of committing the child to be brought up in the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ and releasing a blessing on the child and family.
[Dedications can be arranged by contacting the church office or speaking to a church leader after one of our regular meetings.]
The idea of publicly blessing a child, which may also serve as a ‘naming ceremony’, is also a great opportunity for family and friends to get together and celebrate the baby.
What if the child is no longer a baby – is there a cut off point for this blessing? Probably not, as Jesus blessed the children – not just babies! Sometimes, we have people who become Christians and start coming to church but are conscious that their children were never blessed when they were infants, and they want that for them. In those circumstances we are always willing to bless them all! Sometimes it is one child, sometimes four! How can you withhold blessing?
Blessing goes for whole families too! For a man, wife and children together we might well pray God’s blessing publicly over their lives together.
Personally, my policy is that I would dedicate any child whose parent(s) ask for them to be dedicated. If they are of an age when they are considered adults, then it is their own decision that matters. What I won’t do is put on a ceremony ‘on demand’ for people who do not demonstrate any genuine desire to bring their children up to know God.
In the historical churches there is sometimes an attitude that having your child ‘done’ is a necessity, that if not performed something horrible may happen. As a church we do not promote superstition or encourage it in any way, so for us motive is important – if it is just a reason to get the family together then there has to be more to it than that. If however, we want to thank God for the safe arrival of a child and want him to be blessed by God and by the community of the church then we are delighted to be involved!
Some people like their baby dedicated the first Sunday they are brought to church (maybe only a week or two old). Other people want to plan ahead, so that as many guests can be brought along as possible – both viewpoints are acceptable but act according to your own conscience.
Jesus is alive
We believe in the resurrection, the Jesus we serve is alive – we know the tomb is empty because we know our hearts are full! Because Jesus is alive he still has a blessing for the people he encounters. We want to put ourselves in his path, we want to walk closely with him so that we might encounter his blessing. Whether we are young or old we depend on the blessing of God and the touch of Jesus. We just think that it is appropriate to start that blessing as soon as we can and by speaking blessing over a child.
God wants us to live a lifestyle of blessing:
The Lord's blessing enriches, and struggle adds nothing to it. Prov 10:22 HCSB
Jesus has always been involved in blessing us. The fact is that Jesus was cursed that we might be blessed and might receive every good thing, which is why we want his blessing to be our children’s portion too.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. 14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:13-14 HCSB
In fact, Jesus said: I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 HCSB
For the Christian we should live a lifestyle of worship, blessing God, because day by day we experience his blessing on our lives.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ; Eph 1:3 HCSB