New Arrivals Day 2000

May 7, 2000

Since 1987, this church has set aside a spring Sunday each year to celebrate “New Arrivals Day.” It is a day deeply rooted in biblical precedent.

Do you remember the Old Testament story of Hannah? She had wanted to be a mother but was barren. So she committed herself to pray in faith that God would give her a son. Her promise to the Lord was that a child given to her would in turn be given back to him to serve God all the days of her life.

In fulfilling her vow, she explained: “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (1 Sam.1:27-28).

Mothers, you have your babies fresh and new from God’s creative hand today. Fathers, you have received a precious trust from the Lord. Now give these babies back to him! Let your personal faith go deep. Then pass your faith along to this new generation. I am confident you promised the Lord as much when you learned you were pregnant. Do not fail to honor your vow to him. We will encourage you in every way we know how. But you are in loco dei (Lat, in the place of God) to your precious son or daughter. You will be the most important person in your child’s life to determine his or her spiritual destiny. You must take that responsibility seriously.

Parents stand and repeat . . .

Because being a parent is the highest calling to which anyone may aspire, I want to lead you fathers and mothers in a prayer for your task.

Holy God Above, we are in awe that you would create new life in partnership with us. We thank you for [your child’s name]. You are the perfect parent to your children, and we ask you to teach us to love, understand, and train ours after your example. Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we pledge ourselves to teach these children to live by faith and to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Extended family stand and repeat . . .

Siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, special family friends – you have been honored by the parents of these young children by being asked to share this very important day in their lives. Because you love these children and want the best for them, I would also like to lead you in a prayer for your special role.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we seek your grace, O God. We commit ourselves to love and nurture these precious children. Knowing that who we are will have more impact on them than anything we will ever say to them, help us to be pure of heart, speech, and behavior before these impressionable souls. Teach us to seek Jesus with our whole hearts so that these children who are molded by our influence will experience Jesus’ kindness, hear Jesus’ call to their hearts, and follow him in their lives. Amen.

Church family stand and repeat . . .

The responsibility to provide for the positive spiritual development of these children is too much for parents and family alone. In the words of an ancient African proverb, it really does “take a village to raise a child.” As the church family chosen by these parents, they are trusting us to affirm and assist them in molding the lives of their sons and daughters. Thus I hope you will join me in making a pledge to these parents and their children:

We will do everything within our power to help you protect and nurture your children. We will uphold them with our love and help you teach them the Word of God. When they fail, we will encourage them to try again. When they achieve worthwhile goals, we will rejoice with you and join you in praising them. We will be careful not to bruise their tender spirits with harsh words or criticisms. We will do our best to let them see Jesus in us, so help us God.

A shepherd prays for the children and their families . . .

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