Classic Worship Connection: January 7, 2018

Baptism of the Lord

Color: White
Scripture Readings: Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

Call to Worship #1:

L: From the waters of Creation, the earth sprang forth.
P: From the waters of a womb, God’s blessed Son was given to us.
L: From the waters of a river, people were baptized and marked as God’s Children
P: Praise be to God, whose loving gifts and presence have called us together.
L: Let us shout our love to God for God’s abundant love
P: AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

[ Use the following piece of music from THE FAITH WE SING: #2253, "Water, River, Spirit, Grace" , in the following way. As the people enter the worship area, hand each of them a small stone, or glass pebble. Tell them that they will receive instructions concerning this pebble during the worship time]

L: Come, come into the presence of the Lord today!
P: We come, with all the joys and sorrows, all our hopes, dreams, and cares.
L: You have been fashioned by God’s love. You are called across the waters of creation to be a blessing.

Choir: (singing): Water, river, spirit, grace, sweep over me, sweep over me! Re-carve the depths your fingers traced in sculpting me, in sculpting me

P: We have been called to be people of hope and light.
L: You have been offered nourishment and cleansing by creations waters
P: Help us to receive again the blessing of adoption by God.

Choir: Water, river, spirit, grace, sweep over me, sweep over me! Re-carve the depths your fingers traced in sculpting me, in sculpting me.

All: AMEN

PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

God who watches over us, offering us light and hope, Be with us this day as we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism. Help us to remember your healing, cleansing, and claiming love for us. Remind us again of the many ways in which you reach out to us. May the image of the waters be for us an image of hope. Bring us closer to you, loving God. Embrace us again with your love. We open our hearts to you this day. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

[use this prayer of confession in conjunction with Call to Worship #2]

Lord, you have blessed us with life. We praise you for this blessing. What we have done with our lives has both delighted and perplexed you. We are far too often inclined to be stubborn and arrogant, believing that we are all powerful, that we have no need for you. But there is an emptiness in us - a place where we are raw and hurting, bleeding, and bruised. We have tried our own healing methods, and they have not worked. We feel as though we are an oar-less, sail-less boat drifting in water, unable to gain direction, unable to see the shore. We long for home and hope. From across these waters, you have called us. Now let us come to you in contrition, seeking your healing and forgiving love.

Dear people in this place, you have been given a small rock (glass bead). Let this rock be a reminder of the strength which God has placed in you. Let this rock represent your hopes and your desire to be again connected to God. Come forward with your rock, placing it in the glass bowl. Thank God for God’s gracious and absolute love for you. Come, dear friends, bring your token of your life, your rocks, and your hopes.

[As the people come forward, have the choir sing "Come, Be Baptized" (#2252 THE FAITH WE SING]

[When the people have returned to their seats, continue the prayer]

[When all the token have been placed in the bowl, the worship leader or other designated person takes a pitcher of water and gently pours it over the stones, as the prayer is concluded ]

God of mercy and love, you have called us over the waters, and through the waters of baptism you have blessed us. You have cleansed and healed us, and adopted us as your beloved children. Help us to live as children of the light, serving you faithfully all our days. 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.

Pastoral Prayer

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 when he came up out of the water 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. Our world is in the midst of strife; wars, oppression, famine, hunger, alienation, situations in which we have abused the world and each other. 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.

Litany

L: We are wanderers, those who arrogantly believe we know the right direction
P: Whether or not we like it, we have a tendency to be arrogant and stray away from God’s love.
L: We seek adventure that leads to darkness; fear becomes an enticement
P: Our television shows promote fear and alienation.
L: Our news papers shriek with stories of horror, injustice, division
P: Lord, we need your healing presence
L: God has always offered light to us. This is nothing new, but it is renewing.
P: Lord, we need your light.
L: God offers a relationship with God’s self that is healing.
P: Lord, we need to be in relationship with you.
L: God offers us hope and asks us to be peacemakers
P: Lord, we need that hope in our spirits.
L: Come, let us trust in the Lord. God will abundantly love and forgive us.
P: Lord, come to us, and help us to come to you for healing, forgiveness, and renewal.
L: Praise be to God who always is with us.
P: Thanks be to God for all mercies and blessings. AMEN.

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.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

The traditional color for this day is white. However, if you are doing a baptismal renewal service or baptisms I would recommend the addition of light blue fabric.

SURFACE: In the center of the Table, toward the back, place a 12" riser on which the cross will be placed. Place one riser, approximately 12" high, on the upper left portion of the worship table. Place one riser, approximately 6" high, on the center right section of the worship center. Place a riser about 2" lower in front of the worship center. It is on this riser that a bowl with rocks and water will be placed, so the riser must be sturdy.

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]

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