Welcome and Invitation
Water. Each of us is born of water and without it, we would die. It is essential to every living thing on this planet. It is written in the poetry of Genesis, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Before there was anything discernible, there was water. As we explore other members of our galaxy, we first look for water – an indication that something living and breathing might exist outside of the boundaries of earth.
And so it is not surprising, then, that John the Baptist chose water as the medium for baptism; not sand or milk or oil, but water that cleanses and renews, water that refreshes the body and the soul. With this life-giving element, John invites repentance and prepares the people of earth for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. With water, John anoints the Son of God and it is water that symbolizes the outpouring of God’s grace at the time of our baptism.
We are here today to remember and celebrate this sacrament that initiated Jesus into his ministry and began, for many of us, our own walk with God. We will feel the cool water on our skin and we will know that we have been touched by the hand of God, inviting and welcoming us into his kingdom. We will hear these same words that Jesus heard, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” And we will know that we also are loved.
Forgiving God, who lives among us, hear our prayer of confession. We have known what is right but have done the opposite. We have hurt others with our words, causing harm to them and ourselves. Opportunities for service have passed us by, ignored. Wounds and regrets hit us like slings and arrows and we carry them, hidden in our hearts, festering anger and bitterness. Wash us clean with your grace, Holy One. May our repentance bear fruit in how we live and love. May your forgiveness empower us to be forgiving. May we see each person as your beloved child and treat them as such. And may we see ourselves as free from the shackles of the world’s idols and seek only to do your will. Amen.
Children of God, you are forgiven! Live out your forgiveness.
Child of God, you are forgiven! Live out your forgiveness.
Hymn “Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters” RH605
The Baptism of Christ Matthew 3:13-17
Statement of Faith (written by John van de Laar)
We believe in God,
The Creator of all that we see, and all that we do not see.
We believe in Jesus Christ,
God become flesh; in death the Forgiver of sinners,
in rising the Healer of the broken.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
God within us; Comforter, Strengthener, and Friend.
Blessing Over the Water
Holy God, infuse this water with your healing grace. Make this baptismal renewal be for us new life in Jesus. Let his baptism be our baptism into his Spirit, making us one with him. May the water’s cleansing power awaken in us the fervent desire to repent, to love more deeply, forgive more fully, give more generously, and to serve without hesitation. We seek to be the Body of Christ in the world; anoint us, fill us, mold us, and use us to bring about your Kingdom here and now. Amen.
Water becomes God’s welcoming embrace during baptism. Water scrubs sin away and creates a fresh palette on which to write our future. Water is God’s forgiveness, healing wounds and transforming the broken into wholeness.
Receive now the water of baptism and hear these words from God, “You are my sons and daughters, with whom I am well pleased.”
With open hearts we receive this sign of love from God.
Response of the People (Prayer of Saint Francis)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.