My church is still finalizing the sale of their/our new home, so they suggested we do the dedication at a local park. They have another service annually called Flower Communion, where each person brings a flower to share, and takes another home. It seemed a perfect match as the UU child dedication involves blessing the child with a rose dipped in water.
There is an important reason we wanted to dedicate Anna. As you know, ours is a blended family. When Rick and I were married in March of 2005, during the ceremony we lit a family unity candle with the kids to symbolize each of our individual commitment to our new family. We have done a pretty good job of blending, but when Anna came into our lives in December of that same year, she added another level of love and commitment for each of us. She is the gift of life and love that we all share mutually. With Anna she is "OUR daughter...OUR sister." There is no "my daughter" or "your sons", no "STEP" sister or brother involved in reference to her. She is such a blessing for each of us.
We honored the older kids again in this ceremony, by having them state their commitment as big siblings and mentors to Anna, and to helping Rick and I nurture her physically, emotionally and spiritually on her life's journey. In keeping with the flower communion/ dedication service, our older kids each brought a starter herb plant that they placed together in one pot, with a starter herb of Anna's. The herbs the kids chose were Rosemary (Tanner's-for remembrance,) Thyme (Adri's for Strength and Courage,) Lavender (Noah's for Love and Devotion,) and Sage (Anna's for virtue.)We will plant this herb garden along with some others (especially lemon balm and mint which my grandmother grew wild in her garden when I was a child.) We will nurture it as something that will continue to grow with and represent our family.
I am profoundly grateful to our family, friends, congregation, and Rev. Wayne for making this such a beautiful occasion. A special thank-you to Rick's mom for driving alone for 6 + hours in a thunderstorm to be here with us, and to Diane and Mike for the beautiful pictures (you see here) and video.
The service was lovely. This is a long post so bare with please. It is well worth the read :)
A CEREMONY OF CHILD DEDICATION
For ANNA ELIZABETH
June 3, 2005
By Rev. Wayne
From the beginning of time, men and women have brought their children to worshipping communities for dedication. In the presence of the congregation, children have been given names and parents have declared their responsibilities for them.
We perform this ceremony publicly to declare that all of us, as parents and as representatives of this religious community, share in the responsibility for the care and development of all children. It is our task to give them a world of peace and justice in which to grow. It is our task to help them to understand our ideals and hopes, and to help them choose their own.
Will Rick and Jennifer come forward now with their children Tanner, Adrienne, and Noah, and with their new daughter whom they all wish to dedicate.
(Family comes forward)The rose, still in bud holds the promise of the full flower, just as your young life will unfold in the coming years, as you grow in wisdom, and in love. The growing plants brought by these children represent the common garden of this family that all of them now share.
Today all of us dedicate ourselves to the task of nourishing the beauty and freshness and wonder of you and of all children.We use flowers and water in this ceremony. These time honored symbols remind us of the beauty and wonder and freshness of life.
Water is an ancient symbol that represents our hope that your life may be pure and that your thoughts may be clear. The rose, still in bud, holds the nourishing the beauty and freshness and wonder of you and of all children.
TO THE PARENTS
Jennifer and Rick , As parents your responsibility is first and greatest. Each child is unique, with a dignity and life of his or her own. Will you, as parents of this child, respect and honor her as an individual and pledge to the best of your abilities to guide her towards truth, righteousness and love in her own search for God?
Parents respond, "We Will"
[At this point we put a very fussy Anna down and she took off through the pavilion. Rev.Wayne didn't miss a beat.
He said, "Well there she goes to start searching for God right now!"]
TO THE GRANDPARENTS
This child has been blessed with loving grandparents. Helen, Jim, and Jane, you represent to this child her historical dwelling, her ancestry and lineage .
You are her anchors, the thick trunk of the tree of life on which she grows. Are you all willing to help this child grow in wisdom and strength, so that she may discover her own values, dreams, and destiny in the community of humankind?
The grandparents respond: We are.
To the SIBLINGS
Tanner, Adrienne and Noah
Do you each promise to love your sister and to help your sister grow up to be a good person?
Siblings respond,"Yes, I do."
TO THE CONGREGATION
"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other, wings." As
members of this religious community, will you now pledge to encourage this child to play on the earth with joy and walk gently on this land of ours, well-rooted in herself, in her family, and in her church community? Will you give her both the freedom and support she needs to let her fly, so that she may grow in wisdom and strength, so that she may discover his own values, dreams, and destiny in the community of humankind? If so, please answer. WE WILL.
What name have you chosen for this child?
Parents, "Anna Elizabeth."
Anna Elizabeth, I touch you with water and welcome you into the stream of life, and dedicate you to the service of truth and love. May your life unfold in beauty, as the bud holds the promise of full and fragrant bloom.
By these names you have been called and to them you have responded. It is our hope that you will wear your name in honor and in peace and in courage throughout your life, and that all others will come to look upon your name and find it blessed.
We give you a certificate so that you may remember this day and the love and concern. We rejoice in your presence among us. May you always find blessings in life. May you have joy in listening and joy in singing; joy in hearing and joy in seeing; joy in thinking and joy in learning. May your hours be forever bright in play and in work, in friendship and in love.
Gifting of a baby blanket
Diane (to the parents—)"A church gains its focus from its leaders, but its warmth comes from its community.As a mother in this community, I welcome this child into the warmth and care of this congregation, and present her with a blanket that she may be daily warmed by the tangible reminder of their connection to this church."
Now as we end this service of dedication, we turn towards the future. May this sweet life, which we have dedicated this day to such high ideals receive abundantly the blessings of health, love, knowledge, and wisdom, and in its turn give richly back to the common heritage that endures from generation to generation.