Baptism of the Lord
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17
Call to Worship #1:
L: Welcome to worship this day!
P: We have come seeking God’s blessings and love.
L: They shall be given to you.
P: We have come seeking forgiveness and healing.
L: These will be offered to you. Open your hearts to receive God’s Good News.
P: We open our hearts to all of God’s words and ways for us. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2:
L: In the very beginning, God separated the darkness and the light. God called the Light "Day" and the Darkness, God called "Night".
P: We were once people who dwelled in darkness, but God has given us the true Light, Jesus Christ.
L: God has blessed us and adopted us as God’s own beloved children, through the sacrament of Baptism.
P: The water of baptism brings to us healing and reconciliation; it is a symbol of nourishment and cleansing.
L: This day is the day of the remembrance of Jesus’ Baptism.
P: As we hear the words of his baptism, let us be reminded of our own adoption by God and celebrate the joyous connection to the Almighty God.
Prayer of Confession
We are incredibly stubborn, O Lord. We have entered the season in which Your Light has been given to the world, your blessings have been poured out on the world, and yet all we can think about is our own problems, our own needs, our own desires. Help us to desire you, Lord. Help us to yearn for your presence. Pour your baptismal waters over us again, cleansing us from our self-pity and arrogance. Nourish and heal us so that we may joyfully serve you. Wash away our jealousy, greed, and all negative thoughts and behaviors that stand in the way of our truly being the people you have called us to be. Again let us receive the blessings offered in creation, in the birth and baptism of Jesus, and in the ministry of the saints of light. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
The love of God is always offered to us, freely, joyfully, for all eternity. Rejoice, dear friends, this is the Good News of our Lord. AMEN.
Creator God, when everything first began, water became a symbol of refreshing, of washing away, of renewing. Through the waters of creation you brought forth abundant life. We have gathered this day to remember Jesus’ baptism, how your Spirit proclaimed that He was your beloved Son in whom you were very well pleased. Our spirits resound with that proclamation. In His baptism, Jesus’ ministry was initiated. He dedicated his life to you completely and without reservation. Help us to dedicate our lives to you, to offer our best for you, to be of service to you by serving in your world. As we have lifted before you the names of people near and dear to us who need your healing touch and your tender mercies, we have also lifted ourselves up as people in need of your grace. In our world there is war, oppression, hunger, and alienation. We have not been good stewards of the world. We have not cared for one another. Heal us and this world, Lord. Renew us with your life-giving waters and re-affirm our baptisms as your children. Let us go forth to be people of peace and mercy. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Psalm 29 A psalm of David (Common English Bible)
You, divine beings! Give to the Lord— give to the Lord glory and power!
Give to the Lord the glory due his name! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor!
The Lord’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the Lord is over the mighty waters.
The Lord’s voice is strong; the Lord’s voice is majestic.
The Lord’s voice breaks cedar trees—
yes, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox.
The Lord’s voice unleashes fiery flames;
the Lord’s voice shakes the wilderness—
yes, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The Lord’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare,
but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever!
Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!
Benediction, Blessing, Commission
Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.
The traditional color for this day is white.
SURFACE: You might choose to plan a traditional altar for today: two candles and a center cross. With the focus on a bowl and pitcher. If you have a baptismal font you might use white flowers or fabric at the base to draw attention to it for today.
FABRIC: Since the traditional color for this day is white, you may want to cover the whole worship area with white cloth, including the riser that is in front of the worship table. The cloth should be adequate to "puddle" on the floor in front of the worship table and the front riser. It should cover both table risers as well. Using approximately 6-8 yards of silky medium to light blue fabric, beginning with the top left side riser, weave the strip of fabric across the table, over the right side riser and then over the riser in front of the worship center. You should have enough fabric so that it drapes well and softly. Do not pull the fabric tightly. This blue fabric represents water.
CANDLES: On the top of the left side riser, place three candles, one 10" white pillar candle; one 8" white pillar candle, and one 6" pillar candle. On the right side riser, place 3 candles: one 4" white pillar candle, one 3" white pillar candle, and one white votive candle.
FLOWERS/PLANTS: Behind the riser on the left, place a fern or other green leafy plant. Avoid plants with hard angular lines. Behind the right side riser, place the same kind of plant that you used on the other side. Ferns and other leafy plants may be placed at the base of the worship center, near the front riser, but not in front of it. The blue "puddled" fabric should spill down there.
ROCKS/WOOD: Near the base of the riser in front of the worship center, place rocks of various sizes. Smaller rocks may be scattered on the worship table itself, near the candles and the cross. Wood is not recommended for this setting.
OTHER: Have a large clear glass bowl placed on the riser in front of the worship area. Place about a dozen small stones in the bottom of this bowl. On the center of the worship table, have a clear glass pitcher filled with water. Make sure that someone will be able to reach this pitcher without interference with the rest of the worship center. During the service when the people have placed their rocks in the bowl, have someone (could be pastor, worship team member, choir member) carefully pour the water over the stones in the bowl, covering the stones, but not filling up the bowl to the rim. Then place the pitcher out of the worship center, do not return it to the table.
[Note: if you are having a baptism that day, reserve some special colored glass flattened beads, for the person being baptized and any members of the family to put into the bowl, signifying their adoption by God into God’s holy family]