At Church this week we had a special celebration in dedicating three Children to the Lord which is why we have a shorter than usual sermon. You can listen again here and see a summary of Graham’s sermon notes below.
I told the story of the journey in ancient times. The scripture account can be found in Ezra 1:1-4, Ezra 7:21-23, and Ezra 8:21-34
I set the scene by speaking of a people who had been chosen by God to be special, and to be a special blessing to humankind. Invited by God to live differently to the nations surrounding them, they were given rules to live by. Because they failed to live as they should have done they were warned by prophets sent by God to return them to the right way of living. They were told that if they did not return to God, they would be invaded by a nearby nation and they would be carried away into captivity in another land.
Their captivity happened just as it had been predicted.
There was another prediction though, that they would eventually be allowed to return to their homeland.
And so the time came when they (or their descendants) would be allowed to return. Amazingly it was the emperor who made the order that they could return, and he also gave the order that they were to take vast amounts of treasure with them.
Now they had a problem!
The people wanted to ensure their own safety and the safety of the valuable loads they were to carry. They believed this could be done by “handing it all over” to God before they set off on their journey. The did this by the act of dedicating their precious cargo to God. They “gave” it all to God in a ceremony by handing the treasure over into the care of God’s representatives, the priests. The cargo would still travel with them but now it would belong to God and they trusted that God would take care of that which was his own.
In the same way, we too, hand over to Jesus what is most precious to us. We dedicate children to God. We hand them over to Jesus at the beginning of their journey of life. We trust that God will take care of that which we dedicate to him for him to own. In fact, although a service of dedication is a public event where the local community of faith is involved, Christian parents start praying over their children and committing them to Jesus during pregnancy, before the baby is born.
So not just children! The Christian lifestyle is one of handing over to God all that is precious to us. Christians try and have a loose grip on possessions while trying to remember that all they have comes from God and ultimately belongs to God And we hand over our own lives to God too.