Lord, our God, we have received our children from You. We give them back to You again; let them be Yours in time and eternity. Amen.
Text: First Samuel 1:20, 24-28
So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.” … Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, “O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.
Do as Hannah did: give your children to the Lord as long as they live. He will receive them and use them in His service for good and He will save them. We may certainly hope that children whose parents diligently give them to the Lord in prayer shall be blessed people. There are countless possibilities for a little child. Many of the greatest people were poor from their youth, and their parents did not know that the little child in their lowly hut would become an eternal blessing for thousands. But those who fill our prisons and those who fill their hearts with lies and hellish poison, they were also little children once. Cain and Judas were their parents’ hope just as were Noah and Isaac. Yet God creates no one in order to condemn him. There is no inevitable fate of misfortune hanging over any of our children. They do not have to become vessels of wrath. God only hardens those who harden themselves and refuse His mercy. For it says: “Indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you” (Exo 9:16). But I wonder if there are some who become children of condemnation whose parents diligently prayed for them and faithfully delivered them to the Lord? Most certainly not.
But pray also for grace to offer them to the Lord, as Abraham offered Isaac, and as Hannah offered Samuel. Your own heart must be a part of the offering. “Every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt” (Lev 2:13). Certainly we often see that the children of God-fearing people go wrong. Samuel’s sons and Absalom, Ahaz and others had God-fearing parents and yet became disastrous people. But is it really certain that their parents diligently prayed for them? Are there not indeed great frailties and deficiencies in important things even among the saints? Or can God’s promises fail? Can a child of prayer be destroyed? Impossible! Let your little sons and daughters become whatever God wants: lowly or distinguished, they shall become a blessing if early and unceasingly you offer them to the Lord and pray for them with confidence in God’s promises. He gave them to you: in Baptism you have given them back to Him again. Continue to give them to Him in heartfelt faith and devotion, consider them His own, treat them as such! For they are His, they are truly His. Should Satan then have power over them? Never, never! This is a great, great joy!
God be praised for His grace! We and our whole family shall be saved. Not only this, but they shall also serve the Lord here. God, help us to believe and gladly offer to You ourselves and our children for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
By Jesus’ words and actions here
Can parents see and learn then
That they unto our Savior dear
Should gladly bring their children,
And not neglect this duty sure
Nor needlessly God’s wrath endure,
But do His bidding freely.
Our children to the Lord we lead
To be baptized and made clean,
A sign of grace this is indeed
That gently He shall treat them,
Forgiving them their ev’ry sin,
Howe’er the world may lead them in;
Christ makes them His own members.
And for our children we do pray
That God would ever tend them,
That for His Son’s sake ev’ry day
His Spirit He would send them;
Help them to grow and understand,
And guard them with His gracious hand,
That they may have salvation.
Danish: Af Jesu Ord og Adfærd L 41:1-3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Es ist das Heil (ELH 241); alternate hymn: Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd ELH 367:2