Last night we had a dedication service for our newest arrival, Rebekah. Such services provide memorable moments for every family and the church has always acknowledged these moments in life (often known colloquially as ‘hatching, matching and despatching’ services!) Rebekah’s parents have always tried to hold such services on memorable dates and their two children both have memorable birthdays (Christmas Eve and April Fool’s Day!)
Memorable moments can be planned (and often the planning is part of the fun), but can also arrive unexpectedly; many memorable moments are wonderful (including holidays, meetings with friends, the awe we feel at times when faced with God’s wonderful creation), but some are painful and tragic (the loss of a loved one, the break-up of a relationship, the loss of a job.) In all of life, however, there is one memorable moment which is totally life-changing: this is the moment when a person is born again.
Jesus spoke about this experience in John 3:1-21, and Nicodemus was confused about this whole concept. A baby is born; how can an adult be born again? Jesus was referring not to natural birth but to spiritual birth which reconnects us to God. This second birth is the only way we can see and enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3, 5). A child has no say into which family it’s born, but God gives us the right to become children of God if we choose life (see John 1:12, Deut 30:19-20).
This choice has an impact on our children too; Moses says, ‘Choose life, so that you and your children may live.’ (Deut 30:19) At a dedication service, parents give thanks to God for the gift of new life, but also vow to bring this new child up in the Christian faith. We have a duty and responsibility to talk about the memorable things God has done in our lives so that our children may hear and know who God is and what He is like (see Josh 4:21-24). All of us have the responsibility to tell us the story of what God has done (see Ps 107:2).
Secondly, Moses said, ‘Choose life, so that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.’ (Deut 30:20) When we choose God, we have access to His unfailing love, to His guidance throughout our lives and can live in the knowledge that He is working for our good in all circumstances. We have a hope that lasts beyond our years on earth, for ‘whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16) Jesus went on to say, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’ (John 3:36) Our choices now affect not only our everyday lives here on earth but our eternal futures.
Rebekah is too young to remember the dedication service, but we believe it’s a memorable moment in her life. Dedication does not make a person a Christian, but acts as a service of thanksgiving and an opportunity for a family to make promises before God. When a person chooses life, however, and responds to God’s offer of salvation, that becomes the most memorable moment of all. (2 Cor 6:2)