Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Following a recent service at Bethlehem I was asked why some of pastors tear up during child dedications.
There are lots of reasons for tears: onions, smoke, mourning, self-pity, and being greatly troubled in spirit. But why do some pastors get emotional at baby dedications?
For that matter, why do humans have emotions at all? A significant part of the answer seems to be that God designed us in his image.
I suspect the tears at the dedication of an infant are in response to something of beauty. At that moment, something is happening in this fallen world of ugliness and profanity that seems to run counter to all of that. Something hopeful, something precious, something undeserved … possibly a glimpse of the divine spark is right before our eyes, our tearing eyes. It seems unspeakably good and fitting, and in its unspeakability, we get choked up.
Such emotion is neither manufactured nor required. It just comes. Like sweat, or breath, or the blinking of eyelids. No one is telling his eyes, “Blink here and blink there.” They just blink. And no one is telling his eyes to tear up. They just do. Of all the fitting responses to seeing miraculously redeemed parents commit themselves to pointing an undeserved and undeserving child to Jesus, tears seem to be one.
Pastor Sam Crabtree is Bethlehem's Executive Pastor and Lead Pastor for Life Training.