During a church service special events can take place. These events could be a child being dedicated to God or a baptism, where someone has accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. Here is a description of what can take place on these special occasions.
Dedication of children to God, especially the firstborn was practiced in Old Testament times. Hannah dedicated her child, Samuel, to God and to the service of His house (1 Sam 1.27, 28). Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in "Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord" (Luke 2.22).
The four basic purposes of the child dedication service is to -
- Thank God for the miracle of the birth
- To bless the child and dedicate them to God
- For the parents and family to commit themselves to raise the child to love Jesus
- To commit the congregation in providing the facilities and support needed to assist the family in bringing up the child
In a Seventh-day Adventist Church child dedication service, the child is not baptised nor are there godfathers and godmothers. It is not a christening service.
What happens during the Child Dedication?
- Parents are called forward with their child. Other family members are also invited to join in the service.
- The Pastor gives a short talk in regard to the child and the parent's role.
- A prayer, dedicating the child to God is given by the Pastor.
The New Testament does not command such a ritual as child dedication. However, the way Jesus related to children encourages dedicating children to God (see Matt 19.13; mark 10.13; Luke 18:15) -
- Jesus encouraged the blessing when parents requested it. "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them" (Matt 19:14)
- Jesus was displeased with those opposing the blessing. "The disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it. He was greatly displeased". (Mark 10:13,14).
- Jesus blessed the children. "And He took them up in His arms and put His hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)
The New Testament establishes baptism as a requirement to be a member of the church.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, ever unto the end of the world: (Matt 28:19,20)
"Then Peter said unto them repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38)
Baptism is a public statement that you have committed your life to Jesus and you accept Him as your Saviour. It is a statement that you no longer want to be under the rule of Satan but you want to be part of God's kingdom.
"The principles of the Christian life should be made plain to those who have newly come to the truth. None can depend upon their profession of faith as proof that they have a saving connection with Christ. We are not only to say, 'I believe,' but to practice the truth." - Testimonies, vol. 6, pp. 91, 92
Before baptism a person should be taught what the Bible teaches. They should clearly understand what it means to take a stand for Jesus and live a life according to the Bible. Each person who desires to become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church should agree with the fundamental beliefs and doctrines of the Church. (View our fundamental beliefs)
What happens at a baptism service?
The baptismal candidate is introduced and the Pastor gives a brief talk about the person. The candidate may also wish to tell their testimony of how they came to know God.
Seventh-day Adventists believe in baptism by immersion. The candidate and the Pastor will step into the water, usually waist deep and the Pastor will baptise the person in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
After the church service has finished there will be a special lunch for the baptismal candidate and their family and friends to celebrate the baptism.
Communion is a special occasion during the church service when people wash each others feet as an act of humility and take part in the Lord's Supper. Communion occurs once every three months.
Why do we participate in the Foot Washing service?
Foot Washing is part of the Communion service because it is an example given to us by Jesus before He was crucified. "Now, having washed the disciples' feet, He [Jesus] said, 'I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you'" (John 13:14,15).
The act of Foot Washing was made into a sacred occasion so that we will always keep in mind Jesus' lessons of humility and service.
The spiritual experience that lies at the heart of foot washing lifts it from being a common custom to being a sacred ordinance. Jesus not only washed the disciple's feet to clean the dirt but a show them the deeper meaning of forgiveness, acceptance, assurance and unity. By following the example of Jesus and washing each other's feet we are humbling ourselves and getting rid of the pride and jealousy in our hearts. It is a time for making wrongs right and reaching out to each other.
What happens during Foot Washing?
Everyone who decides to take part in Foot Washing will go to a separate room. Children who are not baptised or people who do not want to take part will stay in the main church building. There will be separate rooms set up for women, men and married couples.
Each person who participates will be paired up with someone else and they will take turns to wash each others feet. A song maybe sung and a prayer told to end the service. This should be done with a spirit of humility. Everyone then returns to the main church building where the Lord's Supper will take place.
The meaning of the Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper is a memorial of Jesus' crucifixion. The unleavened bread symbolises Christ's body that was broken for us and the unfermented wine symbolises the blood He spilt for us when He died. The reason why the bread and wine is unfermented is to represent Christ's purity; He was not blemished with sin and therefore a worthy sacrifice for us.
Seventh-day Adventist's do not believe that the unleavened bread and unfermented wine used during the service become the actual body of Christ. They are symbols to help us remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins so that we may have the gift of eternal life.
What happens during the Lord's Supper?
The unleavened bread and unfermented wine are placed on a table at the front of the church. The covering is removed and a prayer is told to bless the bread. The deacons (nominated leaders of the church) will break a portion of the bread and serve individual pieces of the bread to the congregation.
Each person will retain their piece of bread until everyone has been served, the Pastor will then invite everyone to eat the bread. After this a prayer is told to bless the wine and the deacons then distribute small glasses of the wine. After everyone has been served the Pastor will invite everyone to drink their wine.
Who can participate in Communion?
Seventh-day Adventists observe open Communion. Which means anyone who feels that they have committed their lives to Christ may participate. Children, however, should not participate until they are mature enough to have received formal instruction in the meaning of the service and committed themselves to Christ in baptism.
Anointing someone who is sick may be done at church but it is usually done at the home of the person who is sick or in their hospital room.
Anointing is not to bless the dying but to heal the living. It is to recognise a serious physical problem and meet it by putting our trust to God even before we look to human sources. It is to turn to God first - not just at the last moment.
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:14, 15)
What happens during an Anointing service?
Usually the Pastor of the church will lead out in the anointing service. The elders (nominated leaders of the church) will also be there to pray and provide support. Friends and family members may also be invited be present and pray for the recipient. Those who lead out should have a serious commitment to Christ, believe firmly in divine healing and have prepared their hearts for the occasion. The recipient should also examine his/her life before the anointing.
The recipient might be invited to testify to his/her faith and give the reason for requesting healing. The Pastor will also read from the Bible the prerequisites to divine healing. These principles include:
- Belief that God can and does heal
- Confession of sin
- Commitment to healthful living. Much illness results from wrong habits of living. God freely forgives our sins of the past, but it is presumptuous to ask God to heal our bodies if we intend to go on abusing them.
- Willingness to use human means. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" (James 1:16) God may already have gifted some physician to whom He will lead the sick person to for healing. God works miracles, but He often chooses to work them through gifts He places in human hands.
- Trust God's answer. Sometimes God heals immediately, sometimes slowly, sometimes never. If the afflicted person is not healed immediately, it shouldn't be interpreted as a sign either of the individual's spiritual weakness or of God's unwillingness to heal. The service should finish with the certainty that everything has been placed in God's hands and that God can be trusted.
After the bible has been read everyone kneels and if the recipient wishes they may start in prayer. After this the leaders pray in turn and then the Pastor prays last. When the Pastor ends his prayer, they apply olive oil to the forehead of the recipient. Seventh-day Adventists do not follow or support the practice of some who apply oil to the part of the body in which the infirmity exists. The oil symbolises the Holy Spirit's touching the afflicted one in a specific and special way. After the prayer has finished the service ends.