Mighty God, by your love we are given children through the miracle of birth. We give you thanks for them. May we greet each new son and daughter with joy, and surround them with all faith, so they may know who you are and want to be your disciples. Never let us neglect children, but help us to delight in them, showing them the welcome you have shown us all through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I am not into joining things. Out of a need to hedge my bets in case something better comes along and out of a fear of rejection. Both of those things. That is a part of motherhood that has been difficult for me, because motherhood seems centered around choosing teams. I don’t want to identify myself as a “cloth diapering mom” or a “breastfeeding mom” or a “co-sleeping mom.” Blogs for those things have been helpful for me, but I don’t personally want to write one. It doesn’t feel like who I am in my core, and I am content with other people making different decisions. The latest thing we are doing is that Atticus has started solid foods. We are doing this through a process called Baby-Led Weaning, which means that Atticus gets soft solids that he feeds to himself rather than being spoon-fed purees. It’s going well so far. By which I mean: Atticus thinks it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. It’s also incredibly messy.
In presenting this son to the Lord, do you promise, in dependence upon God’s grace and with the help of the church, to teach your child the gifts and claims of the Christian faith, and by prayer, word, and example to bring your child up in the nurture, discipline, and instruction of the Lord?
Our church tradition is not to baptize our babies. Instead, we choose to dedicate them, promising to raise them in the church and teach them our faith. My church has two separate ceremonies for babies: the presentation, which happens the first time the baby attends church, and the dedication, which generally happens around six months. The presentation is a prayer and also the baby gets held up like Simba in The Lion King. During the dedication, there is a liturgy of commitment and prayers and our minister tells the baby about his or her name, the family, and our church. Atticus was presented back in February, and his dedication was this weekend.
I was not sure I wanted to dedicate Atticus to a faith that has brought me very little comfort since his birth. I am sure there are people who would tell me that I moved away from God, but it has felt as if he moved away from me. But, unquestionably, God has been present for us in the hands and feet of his saints, who provided meals, took me out for coffee, listened to my frustration and confusion, and who love my baby boy. It is easy to think of promising to raise Atticus among them.
Brothers and sisters of the household of faith, I commend to you this family. Your love, care, and example are as necessary to this covenant as their faithfulness in keeping their promise. Will you do all in your power to make this church a true spiritual home for them, lending them the support of your prayers and your example?
With Baby-Led Weaning, you present the food to the child and let him feed it to himself. Slowly at first, and then with more surety and enjoyment. The emphasis is on learning and independence rather than on outcomes. It has helped to think of Atticus’s faith journey in that way, too. We will present this amazing, messy, complicated story to him, and, little by little, we hope he learns to take it in.
With God’s help we will so seek to follow Christ ourselves that Mike and Kari will be strengthened and confirmed in their resolve, and that Atticus, surrounded by steadfast love, may be nurtured in the faith and strengthened in the way that leads to life.
Probably he will smear it around a little bit first.
God of grace, Father of us all: we pray for these parents and all parents. Help Mike and Kari to know you, to love with your love, to teach your truth, and to tell the story of Jesus to their son that your word may be heard. Bless Atticus. Strengthen him through injury and illness so he may live the promises you give. Keep us with this child and with all children ready to listen and to love, even as in Jesus Christ you have loved us your grown-up wayward children. Amen.
His dedication was the same weekend as our anniversary, and there was also a baptism at church. This is where our stories begin, not in Once upon a time, but in the common grace that can be found everywhere: in shared meals, in simple words, in a tub of water. The grace of God and the community of his people making these hard promises into something beautiful.