Most of us are familiar with the words to the wedding vow: "...to have and to hold from this day forward... in sickness and health... 'til death due us part." Why don't we have a similar ceremony to celebrate the devotion parents feel toward their children? Why is there no ritual where mothers and fathers can declare before an audience of friends their commitment to their sons and daughters? The devotion ceremony provides that opportunity.
The Devotion Ceremony is very simple. To prepare, first read this overview, the list of Frequently Asked Questions, and the Annotated Notes. The Annotated Notes are important because they explain each line of the devotion. Then, invite your friends to attend the ceremony as witnesses. The ceremony could be held as part of a church event (e.g., a baptism) or held in the parent's home.
Print off your copy of the Mother or Father Devotion. If you retype to make your own certificate make sure the following appears at the bottom of the page: Copyrighted 1998 Charles A. Smith.
The simplest way to begin is to hold your infant in your arms (or place your arm around an older child) and read the devotion statement. Then sign it and ask those in attendance to sign as well. Frame the document and place on the child's wall (use plexiglass, not glass if you do this).
From then on, reread the devotion to the child on his or her birthday. If you have additional ideas for the ceremony, I'd love to hear from you. You may think of many different and creative ways of expanding this event or combining it with other ceremonies.