Once, I was invited to officiate at a “baby dedication” for three little children. I thought about Pope Francis saying we have to minister to everyone, not just about abortion and gay marriage, but everything.
That day was a reflection of what I call “God’s garden.” There were agnostics in attendance. There were Catholics, Protestants, and Jews there. I also met Latin-Americans and Germans and African-Americans — all lovely human beings.
Of course we all addressed human issues that day, such as profanity, alcohol, drugs, sexual perversions, abortions, sickness — and in my case, struggling not to overeat all the delicious foods was just torture. What was wonderful was that we were able to lay all of our burdens aside for a few hours in what I call “discovering a pocket of happiness in a messed-up world.”
It was amazing that in the midst of our human condition, we were able to sing, pray, and play together without judgments and condemnation. What a blessing!
During the dedication ceremony, which was held inside the home, with seats of honor for the families, we prayed the “Salvation Prayer,” served “Holy Communion,” sang “The Lord’s Prayer,” and anointed the babies in a ritual including oil, water, and earth. Gifts were given to the babies, parents, grandparents, godparents, and all of the guests.
The families and friends were an ethnic and spiritual blend, reflective of the world today. There were spirited conversations about Christianity, Buddha, and universal truth out in the beautiful garden of the home of our hosts in that Latino township in New Jersey. The meal, which included a type of Spanish rice and other delights, was served inside and outside of the home, and I loved the beautiful colors and flavors infused in the foods, the china, the décor, and the overall atmosphere.
Outside, while early autumn butterflies floated among the fall blossoms, the little children jumped and played in the “Bouncey House” (the type of inflatable playhouse that’s so popular these days). The event took place on the birthday of one of the children, so there was pizza and birthday cake and there was a visit from “Elmo” that had the youngest crying and the older children squealing in delight.
Many of the younger adults were all excited over plans to go to a party in Atlantic City later that night. Of course the grandparents were just as excited about having the job of babysitting while the parents had a “night out.”
One of the personal highlights for me was when I had a moment of reflective joy because some of the parents at the event had contemplated abortion not long ago, and yet there we all were at a baby dedication lifting up our children to God that day. This was the second baby dedication where I was charged to deliver a spiritual blessing. The first was for some of my own grandchildren. This was to my extended community. I was so honored.
I thought about how some of my own children chose life over abortion under a time of social pressure. And I was moved to tears seeing all of these precious babies that day.
English Standard Version
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalms 127:3
At the baby dedication, young adult men and women in their late 20s and 30s were referring to each other as “boyfriend and girlfriend.” Yet, they are not boys and girls. This concept of boyfriend and girlfriend is for childish courtships with no sexual interaction. Mind you, there should be no sexual interaction between people who are not united in Holy Matrimony, but that is a topic for another blog. However, I will say this: When we become adults, we should grow out of childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
At the event, one young man introduced himself like this: “I am her man.” He understood that he was no longer a boy and that he was pursuing a woman, not a girl. I actually have occasion to meet people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and beyond who are trying to be “boyfriend and girlfriend.” That’s something to blog more about later.
All in all it was a lovely and refreshing occasion. There is still much to be done, teaching morals and values for instance. For example, in his sermon “Rediscovering Lost Values” my Uncle M. L. said we are living in a messed-up world.
“I think we have to look much deeper . . . if we are to find the real cause of man’s problems and the real cause of the world’s ills today. If we are to really find it I think we will have to look in the hearts and souls of men. (Lord help him) . . .
“The trouble isn’t so much that we don’t know enough, but it’s as if we aren’t good enough. The trouble isn’t so much that our scientific genius lags behind, but our moral genius lags behind. (Well) The great problem facing modern man is that. That the means by which we live (Help him God) have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. (That’s right) So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. (Well) The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood. (Lord have mercy)” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from “Rediscovering Lost Values.”
Yes, in his sermon Uncle M. L. encouraged us to return to God. That’s a message I’m blessed to deliver. We spent some quality time with God that day. I’m so glad that this family took time out to pray for the babies and for our families.
– Dr. Alveda King –