SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Call to Worship
Call to Worship #1
L: God is with us always and calls us each by name.
P: When we pass through difficulties and stress,
L: God is with us and calls us by name.
P: When we are discouraged and feel lost and alone,
L: God is with us and calls us by name, and heals us.
P: Blessed be God who knows us and calls us by name. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: We are marked as God's beloved ones.
P: What have we done to deserve God's love.
L: God's love is God's free gift to us, always and forever.
P: Even when we are difficult and turn away from God,
L: God's love never vanishes from us.
P: Thanks be to God who is ever faithful to us, AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2123, "Loving Spirit ", offer the following call to worship as directed]
L: Darkness is gone. New Hope has arisen for each of us.
P: We are forgiven and blessed. Choir singing verse I of "Loving Spirit"
L: We are marked by God as disciples
P: God has entrusted us with God's own message of hope.
Choir singing verse I of "Loving Spirit"
L: Come, Spirit of God, and rest upon us.
P: Enable us to be people of hope and peace. AMEN.
Call to Worship #4
L: All creation proclaims the greatness and love of God.
P: God's love permeates even the deepest darkness.
L: The light of God shines on us with new hope.
P: We are called to be people of compassion and justice.
L: Open our hearts, O Lord, to see your light and live in your hope.
P: Prepare us for service to all your people and to this world. AMEN.
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Lord of Hope and Light, in the midst of Darkness you offered light to people who lived in fear. Today that light comes to us as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Open our hearts this day and remind us that you have marked us as people of hope and light. Prepare us to serve you by serving your world. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
Sky-shattering God, we confess that we have not always paid much attention to the baptism of Jesus, but viewed it as a nice story which begins Jesus' ministry. We don't always see ourselves as standing in that long line of those marked for service; and therefore it is easy for us to dismiss this as a nice story and nothing more. Yet you have called us by name, knowing each of us, and loving us. We are astonished by this. We know that we have behaved in very unloving ways and in some behaviors which do not promote your love and peace. Forgive us for our blindness. Turn us around. Help us to be people who not only recognize the light, but who are willing to live in that light, bringing help to others in your name. For we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
People of God, you are known and loved by the Creator. You are marked as God's chosen ones to bring hope and peace to others. Be at peace and live in hope. AMEN.
Your word of light and hope floods into our lives, O God. We have lived in darkness, in despair and fear, doubt and strife. But on this day of celebration, you remind us that we are marked by you to be witnesses to your light of new hope. As the heavens opened at Jesus' baptism, so is your love poured out on us. We have brought before you names and situations which concern us, people who face illness and grief, whose lives are torn by poverty, war, alienation, addiction, and hopelessness. We ask for your loving mercy on them, O Lord. Heal them and bind up their wounds. Help us to be people who are ready to be involved in ministries of peace and justice, bringing the light of your hope to those who dwell in darkness and despair. We ask this in Jesus' Name, AMEN.
Reader 1: Let us worship the Lord this day. Please open your…
Voice: Beloved children, I know you and have called each of you by name.
Reader 1: What's going on? Who is this?
Voice: From the very beginning of creation, I have loved you.
Reader 1:Sorry for the interruption, folks…now let's…
Voice: Even when you lived in fear and doubt, when the way did not seem clear, I loved you and walked with you.
Reader 1: Really……who is this? Come on…
Voice: Who do you think?
Reader 1: I don't know…maybe, God?
Voice: Why do you doubt?
Reader 1:Well, shouldn't we have been alerted? I mean, shouldn't there have been trumpets, or at least an email?
Voice: Would that have made you feel more comfortable?
Reader 1: I don't know about more comfortable……just not so surprised, I guess.
Voice: That's part of the problem, you guess. You should know that I am always with you. I have never left you and I never will. You are precious to me. No matter what happens in life, I am with you.
Reader 1: Even in times when I am afraid; or I turn my back on you?
Voice: Yes, right with you in all those times.
Reader 1: What about the times I do wrong things and I just don't care whether or not you like it?
Voice: Then and there also.
Reader 1: What about the times when I'm not sure I believe in all this religion stuff?
Voice: I'm still with you. I know your name. You are precious to me. When you feel doubt and weakness, I am with you. When you are arrogant, I am disappointed but I am with you. When you hurt yourself and others, I weep, but I am with you, seeking you to turn around, to change your fears into faith; to place your trust in my presence; to be part of the workers for peace that are so sorely needed here.
Reader 1: What's required?
Voice: Your willingness to place your trust in me and to find ways to serve which will be healing and bring hope to people.
Reader 1: O God, please forgive me. I'm sometimes so stupid and arrogant. I think I know it all, and I know so little. Heal me. Help me. Lead me.
Voice: Consider it done!
People of hope and peace, go into the world. Bring God's healing love to all whom you meet. Help with ministries, which promote justice and compassion. In Jesus' Name, go in peace. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: WHITE
SURFACE: Place a 10"riser at the center back of the worship table. Place two 8" risers to the right and left of the center riser, slightly forward. Place three 4" risers in front of the 8"risers across the worship table.
FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with a light blue/green fabric, making sure that it puddles on the floor in front of the worship center.
CANDLES: On either side of the 10" riser, place tall altar/worship center candles. Place a votive candle in front of each of the three 4" risers.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Place new, small plants on each side of the tall candles and at various places around the worship table. These may be set in small containers or terra cotta pots, but they should be newly grown plants.
ROCKS/WOOD: Place small groups of pebbles around the base of each of the containers
OTHER: Place a brass cross on the 10" riser. At the apex of the cross place a descending dove. OR you may make a descending dove from poster board or heavy cardboard and place it above the cross on the worship center.