Today we held M’s dedication ceremony. Rather than holding Christian-style baptism ceremonies, most Unitarian Universalist congregations have child dedication services for infants, young adopted children, or young children whose families have recently joined the congregation.
The parents bring the child to the front of the sanctuary at a designated time in a regular Sunday worship service, and the minister presides over the ceremony. The dedication ceremony is generally a celebration of the blessing of new life, an expression of the parents’ hopes for their child, and a call to the parents and the congregation’s members to lead and nurture the child’s spiritual life as it grows.
One of the other mothers sung a song, Everything Possible, by Fred Small:
We have cleared off the table, the leftovers saved,
Washed the dishes and put them away
I have told you a story and tucked you in tight
At the end of your knockabout day
As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
Over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me
May it keep you good company.
You can be anybody you want to be,
You can love whomever you will
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know I will love you still
You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,
You can choose one special one
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.
There are girls who grow up strong and bold
There are boys quiet and kind
Some race on ahead, some follow behind
Some go in their own way and time
Some women love women, some men love men
Some raise children, some never do
You can dream all the day never reaching the end
Of everything possible for you.
Don’t be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
But seek out spirits true
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
They will give the same back to you.
The congregation read the Congregational Commitment:
We each bear some responsibility for the care and nurture of all children. Our task is to seek peace and justice so that children may live without the threat of violence. Our task is to be good stewards of the earth, so that children may inherit a healthy planet. Our task is to freely and responsibly explore the paths of truth and meaning, so that children may know the value of spiritual living. Because our children learn to live as we live and learn to love as we love, we commit to live well and love deeply all the days of our lives.
Ryan and I declared our wishes for M on her dedication day:
We hope she will grow up with . . .
– a curiousity to explore her community and the world,
– a compassion for animals and people,
– a desire to stand up for and care for those in need,
– a love of nature and the outdoors,
– and of course, an appreciation of music.