It seems that the practice of dedication receives relatively little attention. This invites our exploration and application, as it seems appropriate. While in keeping with precedent, allowing for creative alternatives.
What is implied by the term? It pertains to devoting or setting apart for a particular purpose. Which may consist of an initial act and continued observance.
Serving as a case in point, “When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple” (1 Kings 7:51). Thus in keeping with his father’s wishes.
Persons might likewise be dedicated for service. Accordingly, Hannah informed her husband: “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always” (1 Sam. 1:22). So it came to pass.
Fast forward. I tend to associate dedication with that of children, as is the practice in some church denominations. When replaced by infant baptism, it is meant to incorporate this meaning. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it,” the sage allows (Prov. 22:6). This is not meant as a guarantee, but more likely to result. Consequently, one should not procrastinate.
It is easier said than done. The raising of a child is a difficult task, and assuredly time consuming. So that dedication of a child implies the dedication of his or her parents as well. As I am especially reminded of my mother, who served as my siblings and my primary care provider. Thank parents and thank God for their devotion.
The dedication of a sanctuary for worship next comes to mind. Perhaps the congregation has been meeting in a home during its initial stages. Now that it had outgrown this accommodation, it must provide a more suitable location. Initially, there is a service of dedication. It means to honor God in this manner, and serve his righteous purposes.
Such should be kept in mind as a future point of reference. So that nothing distracts from its initial purpose. Not personal interests nor corporate gain, but relentlessly pressing on with the obligation voluntarily assumed.
The notion of dedication also surfaces in conjunction with one’s calling. Whether in an ecclesiastical regard or so-called secular vocation. As reminded by Reinhold Neibuhr, the breadth of vocation serves to remind us that Christians live in but not of the world. As for the latter, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).
My college classmate Ed DeYoung comes to mind in this regard. He was a very devout young man, who was active in an on campus Bible study and prayer group. Which on occasion would share their faith by way of home visitation.
He, nonetheless, was unaware of how God would have him invest his life. Therefore, it came as a surprise to me that he showed up in seminary. It was not that he meant to train as a pastor, but lacking assurance as to an alternative, he felt a year of theological studies would be beneficial.
It was several years later that our paths again crossed. He had been teaching in West Africa, and was enthusiastic with the prospect. Sometime later, I received word that he had died from a tropical disease. His remains were buried on the field, among those he had served. Thus his dedication had resulted in his demise.
Dedication sometimes takes a more exceptional turn. Joe Santos serves to illustrate. He was at the time a deacon in our local church, and an inspiration for those who knew him. Upon the purchase of a new auto, he dedicated it to the Lord’s service. This eventuated, among other things, in the practice of gathering several elderly people from their walk-up apartments for a drive through the countryside on a Sunday afternoon. This was greatly appreciated.
He was careful to return in time for the evening service. Since this was also an evidence of his dedication. As was his life in general.
While other examples might be cited, these serve to illustrate the importance of dedication as a critical facet of life, both in individual and corporate terms. It may also prime us to consider other means which we would have otherwise overlooked. So that we reap what others have sown, and sow that others may subsequently harvest. Thus to pass on a cherished Christian legacy from one generation to the next.
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