Reflections on a Baby Dedication and Needing One Another
This past Sunday, we dedicated our son, Malachi.
In our tradition, a baby dedication is not about summoning God to do something. It is not as if God is “up there” waiting for us “down here” to ask for such an official ceremony done by those with degrees on the wall (with the bruises to prove it). I was honored that the elders of First Christian Church, Ventura were eager to do such a blessing! It is about dedicating our lives, time, resources, energies, and much more to the life that God has given us.
For us, it was important to do the dedication in multiple languages. Pastor Valentin at Primera Iglesia de Ventura participated in the ceremony. I am thankful that God does not speak one language (i.e. English, Spanish, Latin, Arabic, etc.). God speaks every language, but none are as important as the language of love.
For us, it was important that it include interfaith elements. Rabbi J.B. Sacks from Congregation Am HaYam did a wonderful blessing in Hebrew and English that had me on the verge of tears. I am thankful that God knows more than just the labels in which I find meaning. God continues to show me that God is much bigger than any pronoun, tradition, or anything else that limits experiencing God.
For us, it was important that Malachi be dedicated while wearing the christening gown that was made by Malachi’s great-great grandmother for his great grandfather’s christening. I could not help but think of all of the family members who have been christened or dedicated in it since that day many years ago, including me. I am thankful that not only are we born into imperfect families, but we are also born into the human family.
I have learned that including others is the key to any attempt to following the ways of Jesus. May we keep the Christ in Christian by appreciating others’ languages and traditions!
The thing about inviting Christ into one’s life (not just on Sunday mornings) is that we must be open to how that changes, blesses, and brings us to tears. I am going to dedicate my life to helping others experience such things!
Sunday was also Father’s Day. Although I struggle with male dominant language to describe God, I find meaning in the words of Malachi (the one in the Bible, not the one with whom I am well pleased [to quote a voice from ages past]): “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another?”
What if we dedicated our lives to remembering that we are all (the entire human family) connected by being made in the Creator’s beloved image? What if we could do so by appreciating and valuing others’ languages and traditions? It may take all of us — elders, partners in ministry, interfaith colleagues, children, and the rest of the human family — but maybe that is the point. We can’t do it by ourselves.
This blog was written when Jonathan served as pastor of a church in California. Jonathan Hall is currently the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Colorado Springs. You can contact him at email@example.com.