Human beings the world over have some kind of instinct ‘to have the baby done’.
In England, as also in predominantly Roman Catholic countries, christening is the custom.
The Jews in Bible times took their baby boys to the priest after just one week of life to have them circumcised. They gave the boy his personal name during the ceremony (eg John the Baptist in Luke 1:59-60; Jesus in Luke 2:21).
Even humanists (who do not believe in a personal God) like to conduct a naming ceremony for which they dress formally, sing suitable songs and deliver speeches!
How can churches who practise believer’s baptism satisfy this desire of parents and their relatives ‘to do right by the child”?
ls a ‘service’ of baby blessing necessary?
The straight forward answer is that neither Jesus nor his apostles ever commanded any ‘service of dedication’ for children. Even in a corrupt city such as Corinth a Christian parent whose spouse continued to worship idols did not need to conduct any special rite to safeguard their children`s spiritual welfare from occult influence.
The husband or wife who isn’t a follower is made holy by having you as a mate. This also makes your children holy and keeps them from being unclean in God ‘s sight’ (1 Corinthians 7:14 Contemporary English Version) The children will be sanctified (set apart to God from alien spiritual ‘germs’) without applying a drop of water or performing any rite (of spiritual ‘vaccination’!). The regular influence of just one godly parent in the home will suffice. So, baby blessing should not be thought of as a dry baptism. Neither is it a guarantee that they will chose to walk with God in adult life, nor a ticket for ultimate admission to heaven.
Baby blessing is a celebration of life
Constantly the Bible encourages us to celebrate together before the Lord all of life’s main events – from daily meals (1 Corinthians 10:30-31; 1 Timothy 4:3-4), to harvest festivals (Leviticus 23:33-43), from weddings (John 2:1 – 11) to the birth of a child (Leviticus 12).
Since Scripture does not prescribe a Christian rite of baby blessing as such, the time and place are optional. as is the format of the celebration. It can be conducted in a home with immediate family and friends. or as an item in the public worship of the church.
Only the parents can dedicate their child
Neither the minister nor the congregation can dedicate the little one. It is only the parents who can do that. It is their way of saying: we are only stewards of this life. not its owners. A steward manages another’s property on behalf of the owner.
Read the story of the infant Moses in Exodus 2:0 and Exodus 3:0 as a parable of your child and Jesus.
- – He was born under a curse
- – to godly parents
- – who committed him to God’s care,
- – He was rescued by one who came from the royal residence (compare 1 Timothy 1:15).
- – The saviour’s message to the mother was: ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you. ’ (Exodus 2:9)
- – When the child grew older he became a royal son.
- – In adult life he delivered his people
Hannah’s comment to Eli the priest is another parable for Christian parents:
‘I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord’ ( 1 Samuel 1:27-28 )
Early in his life Samuel came to know the Lord for himself and grew up to be a prophet who regularly brought messages from God to his people and helped to prepare them for a spiritual reformation.
The church family together bless the child
Any church that complains when some of its valuable time for ‘proper worship’ is ‘interrupted’ by a brief session of baby blessing will earn the Lord’s strong disapproval, ‘People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. “And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10: 13-16) In praying for the child. an elder or any member of the local church family (other than the parents) holds the babe in his or her arms and gently lays a hand on its head. This symbolises fellowship with the child and its parents. and the solidarity of their support in love and prayer, counsel and practical help in bringing the child up in the ways of God. The embracing arms dramatically express acceptance of the child by the church, And throughout Scripture the laying on of hands is a means of imparting so many of God`s benefits.
It can be an occasion to receive prophetic keys regarding the child’s life
When Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus to the temple ‘to present him to the Lord` in dedication, godly old Simeon was ‘moved by the Spirit’ who ‘was upon him`_ Taking the child Jesus in his arms he praised God and prophesied – not dates or other specific details but some main features of his life, ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’ (Luke 2:34-35) These were a unique child and a prophet of outstanding stature. But, with humbly prepared hearts. the Spirit-filled community should also be able to receive visions, Scripture promises and prophetic keys for parents as they present their infants to the Lord. Like Mary they too may treasure up all such indicators and ponder them in their hearts as the child is growing up (Luke 2: 19).
Baby blessing is not a magical substitute for child-training in godliness
Although Timothy’s ‘sincere faith first lived in [his] grandmother Lois and in [his] mother Eunice’, he needed ‘to fan into /fame the gift of God which was in him’ (2 Timothy 1:5-6). Paul exhorted him: ‘Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:14-15)