(Unitarians don't have many rituals, but this is one of my favorites. And today it's Dashiell's turn, just like his sisters before him.)
And now we have the great joy of welcoming a new child to the world and to our religious community. We welcome this child with joy and wonder at the miracle of life, and embrace him as a member of the community of humankind by formally giving him his name.
We humbly thank the Spirit of Life which brought him forth and bestowed him upon his family and the world for a blessing.
And we pledge our support to his parents and families, recognizing that we all have the power and responsibility to shape his world.
(adapted from words by Kenneth Patton) Humanity is our responsibility; human beings are that part of the total universe that we can do something about. To our children we can give our love, our care, our respect. It is a sacred trust and a transformative power.
Could the parents of Dashiell please come forward?
(Parents/guardians bring child to front of church, accompanied by godparents.)
Minister: [taking the child in her arms] What is the name of this child?
Parents give full name of child.
Minister: Dashiell, we welcome you and we give you this name as yours forever.
And from now and into the future, the names will become what you make of them. May your life make them a blessing to the world.
You are unique. There is no one else like you in the entire world. Your parents and your family and all of us welcome you in all your uniqueness. We give you this rose, different from every other rose in the world, as a symbol of your uniqueness and beauty.
We welcome you to this community. Water is the stuff of life; water connects all living things, all of humanity; this particular water comes from the Water Communion services of many years. The rose is dipped in water to symbolize your essential connection with all of us in this community.
Minister touches the rose to the child's forehead, hearts, hands, and feet, and gives the rose to the child.
May your life blossom as beautifully as this rose.
(Minister gives the baby back to the parents to hold.)
Litany of dedication: Charge to parents
Minister: Dashiell is not only your son but also the child of life itself, with its infinite possibilities and myriad forms of beauty. To you is entrusted the sacred joy and privilege of guiding him in life in all its possibilities and teaching him to recognize his own path, hoping that he will find his own truth and live his life according to his spiritual ideals.
Do you, then, promise to the best of your ability, by your example, your teaching and your affection, to raise Dashiell in the ways of truth, beauty and love?
Parents: We do.
Charge to congregation
Minister: Members and friends, adults, youth, and children of the (our church), chosen community of this family, will you please rise as you are able?
No child grows up outside the influence of his community, and no parent raises a child alone. If our hopes for Dashiell are to blossom, we must water them with love and commitment, creating the community for him that we wish to see flourish in his time.
Do you promise to freely and wisely love and respect this child, to offer him your steady presence and best selves, to nurture and sustain him and his family as they learn and grow and change together?
Congregation: We do.
Let us join our hearts together in the spirit of prayer and meditation.
We give thanks for this new life that has come among us. Each new child brings us new hope for a new beginning. We see the great potential that lies in every human life, and we know this child will bring his unique gifts to humanity, if we help him to do so. May we recognize and nurture the unique gifts of this child. And through all the challenges and joys to come, may this child’s life be blessed with hope and courage and love. And all blessings, always, on this family.