Did you recently visit us for a worship service at FBC? Please share your thoughts below:
This summer we’ve been taking a closer look at the greatest “fish story” of all time. The story is short enough to read in one sitting, but deep enough to drown in, and amazingly shows us more about ourselves, and more about Jesus, than we could imagine. Listen in here:
Jonah sermon series
We recently sent out a bunch of newsletters in the mail. If you did not receive one and you would like to, please contact the church office or stop by. If you’d like to check it out here online, you can download it here: FBC-Newsletter-Aug-2017
We’re so excited to have our TWO new babies coming for baby dedication on September 3. Please come join us for this special time of giving thanks and looking to God for his blessings on the children and their parents.
Here are some thoughts on what baby dedication is (and isn’t) and how we’ll do this special time together:
Baby Dedication at FBC Bennington
Your child is loved by God. Your child was created not too long ago, but God knew all about her, even before she was being “knit” in your womb, as the Psalm says: “…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139). God has a special interest in and care for your sweet child.
Your child has, and is, an eternal spirit, made in the image of God: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) All of creation may pass away, and all the brightly burning stars may die out, but your child’s soul will continue to live forever, because she, along with the rest of humanity, was created by God, to glorify and enjoy God forever.
Your child is a special gift to you, to your family and friends, to the community, and to the church. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3). There is no one else quite like her, and God has given her to you, and to all who will know her, as a unique blessing.
You have been entrusted to care for her in body, mind, and spirit. This is an amazing and awesome responsibility, which is honestly too much for one or two parents, or a large family network, or even a whole village. The care of even one child is physically, mentally, and spiritually demanding, and sooner or later will bring you to your knees. This is how it should be, because while on our own we can do nothing, God gives us the strength as we look to him: As Jesus said: “With humans this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26).
Your child is from God, and is on her journey to God: to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27). But we remember that even the sweetest child isn’t perfect, and is affected by sin, causing separation from God. Thankfully God has made a way to reconcile with him and restore our relationship with him as our Heavenly Father. That is why he sent his precious son to die for your child, and all who will believe in him. Therefore the most important thing you can do for your child is to lead her to faith in Jesus Christ, so she will have eternal life, and live into all God has created her to be. So pray with her and for her. Read her the Bible. Show her what it looks like to trust Jesus. Be open and humble about your life and faith. Look for opportunities to share God’s grace with her.
You are coming to dedicate your child to God, much like Hannah did in the Old Testament: “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition, therefore I have given him to the Lord…” (1 Samuel 1). And yet you also come to dedicate yourself to God, and look to him for the strength for this awesome and wonderful calling of raising your precious child.
So, in summary, these are some of the reasons we bring your child for dedication:
- To remember and recognize that she is created and beloved by God
- To give thanks for the gift that she is to us and many others
- To recognize her as made in God’s image
- To look to God alone for the strength to raise her well
- To entrust her to the care of God himself, who sent his son Jesus to die for her, so she might believe in him and live for him
- To pray to God to bless and keep her all her days
- To publicly promise to God to raise her to know and love God as best as we’re able.
These are some of the things that baby dedication includes. To be clear, here are some of the things baby dedication is NOT:
It is NOT baptism. There is no water included. We believe baptism is for those who have themselves trusted Jesus for forgiveness of their sins and have made him their Lord and Savior. Babies are not yet able to do this, therefore we do not baptize them yet, but look forward to the day when they will be.
It does NOT save them. We pray, we promise, we remember, we look to God alone, but what we do at a dedication cannot bring your child salvation. The Bible teaches that only faith in Jesus Christ can save us, and so we trust that this time is a significant step toward your child coming to faith when she is ready.
It does NOT make them a formal member of the church. That will happen when if and when your child is baptized, but of course she is still a vital part of our church family.
The baby dedication service will include:
- A brief word from Pastor Bob on why we are dedicating your child, based on Psalm 127:3
- A blessing based on your child’s name (optional)
- Dedication promises:
- “Do you now present your child before God in solemn dedication?”
- “Do you look to God, as your Heavenly Father, to lead you in raising your child to love God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength?”
- “Do you promise to pray with and for your child, read and teach her the Bible, and lead her to follow Jesus?”
- Congregation promise: “Do you, the members of FBC, promise to assist the parents of this child in raising her to know and love God, and receive her in love, pray for her, help instruct her in the faith, and encourage and support her and her parents as best as you’re able?”
- Prayer of dedication
- Presentation of the child, while congregation sings “Jesus Loves Me”
Do you ever find yourself wondering, “What’s the point of church, anyway?” If not, please bear with me a moment, because I think it is always a question worth asking.
It is often repeated that church is a people, not a building. This is true. A local church is a family of God’s people in a particular time and place, gathered to worship God and follow Jesus together. Yes, we may own property and deal with buildings and institutional matters, but primarily we are a family, with God as our heavenly father, Jesus as our Lord and savior, and the Holy Spirit within us and guiding us. We are called to follow Jesus and through him love and worship God, and love and serve our neighbors.
Thankfully we’re not left alone to figure out how to “do church.” We have the Bible to show us what it means to be God’s people together. After his death and resurrection, and right before his ascension into heaven, Jesus left us with our mission, that still stands today: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
So based on Jesus’ words, this is our mission: to make disciples of Jesus. This mission will never change, although it may look different in certain times and places. This is why I propose that our mission here and now is this: to grow and make disciples of Jesus Christ in and around Bennington.
Many of us have been disciples (or, if you prefer, followers) of Jesus for a long time, so we are here to grow in our faith, and to help others grow and become disciples of Jesus too. Others of us are new in our faith, so we look to grow all the more. Others may not yet be ready to give ourselves to Jesus. Still others may be at a low point in our faith. The point is we are all called to follow Jesus, and together we are called to help others know and love Jesus too.
As we follow Jesus we will experience the freedom and joy of life as a forgiven and fully-loved child of God, and our lives will be changed. We will share God’s heart for the lost and lonely and hurting around us (whether or not they appear to “have their act together”), and reach out to bless others with the love that only God can provide. This can have many aspects, so we gather together to discern how we can serve God and love others here and now in this place, in specific ways. Are you a disciple of Jesus? Let’s follow him together!
Ask anyone on the street, in the stores, or around the water cooler what they think Bennington’s biggest problem might be, and you’ll surely hear a lot about addiction. Call it the “drug problem.” Or the “opiate crisis.” Lives are being destroyed and lost, and a host of problems, both personal and public, are directly related to addiction.
There are various services and help for those affected by addiction. 12-step programs are well-attended, and lives are being reclaimed. We are making progress, yet we’re in the middle of our generation’s greatest battle. Professional and volunteer services are growing, addressing medical, psychological, social, vocational, and other needs.
But where do we find hope for our souls? How can we piece back together our shattered spirits? If the disease of addiction attacks our innermost being, how do we find healing? The spiritual needs of those affected by addiction are very great indeed. And when it comes down to it, we’re all affected by addiction in some way, and many of us are affected very, very deeply.
I have spoken directly with many of the leaders of our local churches and faith communities — my friends from all over the social and theological map. I have discovered that our faith communities do not yet have much direct engagement with the spirituality of those affected by addiction. I hope to change that, and I hope to start very soon, with a small step of faith.
So on Friday, July 7 at 7pm at 601 Main Street, we are starting a monthly gathering called “Mercy Street.” It is a simple gathering of those affected by addiction: whether in recovery, in active use, family, friends, survivors, supporters, or whoever. Those of all faiths or no faith are welcome to come together for music, story, and prayer. I believe that hope, healing, and wholeness are found as we gather together in community and look to God for grace. So we will gather to sing songs of hope, to share our stories of redemption, and to pray with and for one another.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am, on paper at least, very poorly qualified to call for such a gathering. But I am convinced that God enjoys using the unlikeliest to make a difference (Moses the great prophet stuttered, for just one example). And as I make more and more friends who are greatly affected by addiction, I’m discovering that we’re all in the same boat: we all need hope and healing from above, no matter who we are, where we’ve been, or what we’ve done. I’ve found that gathering around song, story, and prayer ignites something that nothing else can.
You and yours are welcome to join us on “Mercy Street” on Friday, July 7 at 7pm at 601 Main Street in Bennington (the facility of First Baptist Church). We hope to gather monthly. You can find more information at www.mercystreetbennington.org or facebook.com/MercyStreetBennington
Bob Wiegers is Pastor of First Baptist Church of Bennington and board member of the Turning Point Recovery Center of Bennington County.