Other Rituals: “Ceremony of Child Dedication”
The children being dedicated will take a walk around the sanctuary. Different church members and older children present in the pews will offer objects that will become a part of the child throughout the poem.Objects include stickers that could be put on masks the children wear and bigger items that could be put in bags the children carry around the sanctuary.
There was a child went forth every day; (masks given out)
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of
the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child, (flower given out)
And grass (blades of grass given out), and the song of the phoebe-bird (church member makes sound "Feebee! Feebee!" and gives out feathers),
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard (stickers to put on mask), or the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish (stickers to put on mask) suspending themselves so curiously below there
All became part of her.
The apple-trees cover'd with blossoms (tree stickers) became part of him;
And the fruit afterward (apples given),
and the commonest weeds (dandelions given)by the road;
Men and Women crowding in the streets
And the school-mistress that pass'd on her way to the school, (paper dolls)
And the friendly boys that pass'd—(paper dolls)
And the fresh-cheek'd girls—(paper dolls)
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.
He rown parents
He that had father'd her, and she that had conceiv'dher in her womb,
They gave this child more of themselves than that(heart stamp on hand);
They gaveher afterward every day—they became part of her.
And the façades of houses (lego duplohouse), and goods in the windows (pretend puppies ),
the huge crossing at the ferries,
The river between, (ferry picture inside water globe)
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping
The horizon's edge (glow stick necklace);
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.
This poem points toward the purpose of today’s ceremony—that our children and youth are not only the children of a particular family but children of the world – of life’s longing for itself. When speaking about the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso from which she was born, author and teacher, Sobonfu Somé wrote "We know we cannot have community without children and we cannot have children without community and neither would exist without spirit. It is one complete circle, each element completing the whole. We welcome our children and in so doing we welcome spirit." With this in mind, we will dedicate our children.
Litany of dedication (The children sit in a circle toward the front of the sanctuary)
Minister: ______________, we welcome you among us.
All: We give thanks for your life, and for the new hope you bring.
Minister: With water we anoint you, for it is the symbol of purity and life. A budding rose we give you for it is the symbol of unfolding life and love. We will appreciate your uniqueness, we will teach you and learn from you, we will love you and respect you.
Congregation: We will delight in your accomplishments, we will share in your sorrows, we will encourage you in every way as you grow into adulthood. And whatever may come to you, whether misfortune, affliction, or wrongdoing, we promise never to close our hearts against you.
Parents: We, your parents, dedicate ourselves to do all that we can to provide you with roots, so that you may feel safe and wings, so that you may fly. We will strive to share with you the beauty and the goodness of life.
All: We will support you and your family through all the experiences of life.
Source:The first portion is based on the poem “There was a child went Forth every day” by Walt Whitman, adapted by Kate Howard
Copyright: The author has given Unitarian Universalist Association member congregations permission to reprint this piece for use in public worship. Any reprints must acknowledge the name of the author.
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Last updated on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.
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