Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nandi's Dedication Ceremony

It’s always good to receive spiritual nourishment, but this past Sunday was quite memorable for our family. Our baby had her Dedication Ceremony – and it was all the more special, because it took place on my mother’s birthday.

The Dedication Ceremony a ceremony where the parents make a commitment before God to submit their child to God’s will, vowing to raise their child according to His Word. 

Both my parents and my husband’s parents live out-of-state, so it’s quite difficult to schedule events that complement everyone’s schedule. With that being said, I decided to have our little girl’s Dedication Ceremony on my mother’s birthday, since neither set of grandparents could make it. I think my mom liked the idea, despite not being able to attend.

I believe our daughter knew something special was taking place, because she woke up smiling and babbling.  She always wakes up with a smile on her face, but the constant babbling early in the morning was a welcomed surprise. We went through the morning ritual of feeding the baby, getting ourselves ready and then dressing the baby. After we all were dressed and looking spiffy, we loaded up the car and headed to our church.

We were running late, along with several of my relatives, which included an aunt, uncle and a large group of cousins. With about 10 minutes to spare, I dashed to the restroom to make sure the baby was “fresh” for her special moment. Moments later, the pastor called us down to the altar for the Dedication Ceremony.

Thankfully, my relatives and a few friends made it on time. My uncle whipped out his handy video camera and went to work. I looked over at my husband and he looked so proud to be holding his baby girl. We then looked at our pastor as he began the ceremony.  Then, all of a sudden tears of joy and several sniffles escaped from my eyes and nose. I saw my pastor’s mouth moving, but the volume seemed to be placed on low. I looked over at my daughter through watery eyes and noticed she had an intense look on her face – with eyes focused on our pastor. In between words, our pastor patted holy water on her head, followed by holy oil. Then I noticed our pastor shaking my husband’s hand; he then let my husband’s hand go and gave me a warm hug. Right before the end of the ceremony, one of the other religious leaders gave me our daughter’s ceremonial certificate and then the volume went back to normal.

During the ceremony, our baby girl didn’t cry and she didn’t fall asleep – her alertness surpassed that of her mother; I could barely see or hear.  I kept thinking, God blessed us with such a precious and beautiful gift – my gratitude was hard to put into words.  As soon as my daughter came into my life, I realized the magnitude of the responsibility of being a mother.  Her Dedication Ceremony further solidified the fact that my husband and I were given this gift but also being held accountable for raising our daughter to worship and love the Lord – through our words and actions.

I remembered how I would watch and listen to how my parents interacted with one another and how they made my sister and I feel special and loved. They were dedicated to making us feel safe and not want for anything. For me, the word “dedicated” or “dedication” is symbolic on so many levels.  For the Dedication Ceremony to be significant, the parents must be dedicated to God and dedicated to protecting and raising their child the right way. This was another reason why I wanted Nandi’s ceremony to be on my mother’s birthday – my parents, to this day, epitomize the word dedication.  I just pray my husband and I are able to make Nandi feel the same way.

Every now and then (usually when I’m feeding her) I’ll notice my baby girl just gazing into my eyes. Or if she hears a foreign noise, she’ll look at me to watch how I react – and that truly amazes me. But during her Dedication Ceremony, her eyes were not on me or her father. She stared intently at the pastor, as if she knew her connection with God was being explained in detail, at that very moment.  Did she truly understand what was happening? Probably not, but she could sense the importance of the ceremony – that I do know.  And because of that, I’m committed to being the best mother God will allow me to be.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3 (New American Standard Bible)

Chandra Cleveland is a Sr. Communications Specialist for Texas Health Resources and New Mom to Nandi.

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