On March 7th we had a great opportunity to invite many of our friends to our church services for what we had planned as our "friend day". The families that attend were going to be inviting neighbors, family members, or even co-workers. We also realized that it was going to coincide with my parents visit and most probably Gracie's first Sunday. So we decided to also make it our "baby dedication" service as well.
The first purpose of having a baby dedication is for me & Danny to stand before God, friends, and family and promise to use wisdom that can only come from God to raise our children the best way possible with God leading us and guiding us every step of the way. To also promise to point Gracie to God in all areas of life. Giving her the best opportunities to know about our Lord and give her a chance to make a personal relationship with Him one day. We want to make it public to also be held accountable.
Here in Austria the average Austrian is Catholic, whether they are really active or not, they will do the traditions of the church usually. So we were asked by almost everyone we invited what the difference is between a baby baptism and a baby dedication and we simply answered that we believe it's not a decision for us to make and that we can not save our child. It's something between them and God... a personal decision. But as parents and believers ourselves we want and should point our children to the only One who can save... and that is God. Everyone commented or nodded about how that is different from what they know, but good.
Another reason we chose to do this was because my Dad would be able to do the 'charge to the parents' part of the service for us. Danny thought it would be awkward to be the Pastor and the parent and so we jumped at the blessing of having my dad (if you don't know my dad (our family) was a missionary in the Philippines for 27 yrs. or so) here in Austria for this special time. Another reason to do this with our church was so we could use it to invite friends who might not come for just any service, but would come out of friendship, curiosity, and/or genuine interest in what another church was like compared to what they've always known.
We tried to be as prepared as possible and what an awesome day it was in terms of a turnout from the friends we had invited. We had maybe 2 or 3 chairs empty! My dad did a great job and we had some people, who understand English well, go on and on about how they loved the way he explained that children were a gift from God (I have a story about Nathan and that topic for later) and that we needed to teach them well. Next, Danny preached in German and did a great job. One very good friend told me a few days later at a birthday party that he was very impressed with Danny. That friend is also very musically talented and he and his kids provided the music for that Sunday.
So here are some photos from that day. We had such a great time and were excited to see some of our friends involved in the process of inviting their friends. We're starting to see more and more progress here.... they are small steps, but steps nonetheless!