Children of the light: remembering and celebrating our baptisms
Some congregations are beginning to explore different options for their second service. One such option is a home worship service, in which small groups from B-iecongregationmeetfor-worship, a meal and fellowship. Small groups from Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, gather for home worship wlienever there's a fifth Sunday in the month—four times a year.
On the two Sundays before each home worship event, members and visitors are asked to sign up for home worship and to indicate whether they would be willing to serve as a host or worship leader. A committee assigns about a dozen people to each group. Each host calls the others to ask for a contribution of sandwiches, salad, or dessert, and to give directions to theirhome. The pastor and/or worship team prepares the service, and each worship leader (one per group) receives copies of the service—including She songs—to distribute to group members. After worshiping together, the group stays for supper and fellowship.
Many families come to these evening services with their young children, discovering that children are more easily involved in worship in a living room than in a large church setting. The children take flwir turns at reading the Scripture passages, taking the offering and participating in a if of other ways.
ORDER OF WORSHIP
God Calls Us to Worship
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Call to Worship: "Come into God's Presence Singing Alleluia"
"I Will Enter God's Gates"
[SpW 168, PCB 197]
"Father, We Love You"
[PsH 634, WC 10]
Praise to you, almighty God, for you have created water to cleanse and to give life.
Thanks be to you, O God.
Praise to you, Christ, God's only Son, for you offered yourself on the cross, that through your death and resurrection we have new life.
Blessed are you, Jesus, the Son of God.
Praise to you, Holy Spirit, for you anointed Christ at his baptism in the water of the Jordan so that we might all be baptized into you and receive this greatest of gifts, God's very self.
Thanks be to you, O Holy Spirit.
Living God, when the Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism in Jordan's water, you revealed him as your own beloved Son. Keep us, your children who have been born of water and the Spirit, always faithful to you forever and ever. Amen.
God Speaks to Us
Scripture: Remembering God's Promises in Baptism
—God's Promise to Noah: Genesis 9:8,12-17 —God's Promise to Abraham and Sarah: Genesis 17:1-7
—God's Promise to Unfaithful Israel: Jeremiah 31:33-34
—God's Promise Fulfilled in Jesus: John 8:12
—God's Promise to Us: Titus 3:4-7, Galatians 3:26-29
—God's Promise to Our Children: Mark 10:13-16
Prayer for Illumination: "Open Our Eyes, Lord"
Message: Remembering and Celebrating our Baptisms Songs: "Water of Life"
[David Haas, G.I.A. 6-3496 (708) 496-3800]
"I Am the Light of the World"
[June Fischer Armstrong, in Worship Songs fir Onldnm, CRC Publications (800) 333-8300 (US), (800) 263-1252 (CDA)]
God Receives Our Prayers and Offerings
Prayers of the People
Offering Hymn: "Let All Things Now Living"
[PsH 453,PH 554,TH 125]
We Go in God's Name
God of Light and Living Water, renew in us a sense of wonder and awe about our own baptisms into the community of faith. Let our baptisms be a living reality that shape who we are and how we live.
Let us be mindful that we are clothed with Christ. Let us remember the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Strengthen our commitment to you and to each other as we live out the promises made to us and by us during baptism.
As we leave this place, we also remember and pray for all those around the world who have been baptized into the Body of Christ. Bless us, and give us your peace in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
Blessing: "The Light of Christ"
The Light of Christ surrounds us,
the Love of Christ enfolds us,
the Power of Christ protects us,
the Presence of Christ watches over us.
[Marty Haugen, OCP Publications #8706CC (800) LITURGY (548-8749)]
Closing Song: "Go Now in Peace"
FOR THE WORSHIP LEADER
This celebration requires that the worship leader bring several props:
—a pitcher of water and a basin
—a large shell (preferably a sand dollar)
—a baptismal gown or other mementoes
—a Christ candle and matches
—a floating candle
—one candle for each member of the group
Remembering and Celebrating Our Baptisms
We are here to remember and celebrate our baptisms. We need to take time to remember that occasion when we were welcomed into the family of God, for that event shapes who we are today and how we live our lives. Each of us who has already been baptized has a precious and important story of our baptism. I encourage you to find out more about your own baptism, to mark it on your calendar, and to find a way to celebrate the anniversary date every year.
[Observe a time of silence or sing "Be Still and Know" (WC 516)]
When most of you were little, the people who loved you brought you to be baptized. The pastor called you by name, touched your forehead with water, and said the ancient words of baptism: "I baptize you in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."
I brought some special things to help us remember and celebrate our baptisms.
[Present the water—pour it into a "baptismal bowl"]
We use water in baptism. It is good for us to remember the great gift of water. Help me think of ways we use water (growing, washing, drinking, swimming, etc.). We need water to live.
I wonder if you can remember stories from the Bible in which water is important (creation, the story of the Good Shepherd, Noah and the flood, the Exodus, Jesus' baptism, Jesus asking for water on the cross, etc.). Water reminds us that Jesus washes away our sins like water washes dirt from our hands. Just as we need water to live and grow, Jesus gives us new life through the water of baptism.
[Present the shell]
Look at this beautiful shell! This too can help us remember and celebrate our baptisms. Sometimes we see a shell in pictures of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River.
Shells are found in the water, often deep in the water. Creatures that live in shells can only live if they are inside their shells. The shells protect them and keep them alive. In the same way, Jesus is our protection. Without Jesus, we cannot really live.
[If you have a sand dollar, touch the cross in the bottom of the shell and say "The cross reminds us of God's great love for us. Christ died so that we might live" Then present the baptismal gown or other mementoes.]
In our church, and in many churches and traditions, we are often dressed in beautiful clothes or perhaps have something special on us, such as a blanket or a beautiful ring or bracelet, for our baptism. These beautiful things are an outward sign that when we are baptized into Christ, we are clothed with Christ. We become new creatures, clothed with Christ.
[Present the Christ candle.]
The Christ candle. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the dark, but will have the light of life."
[Light the candle.]
Christ invites you and me to come close to him and to share in that light. On the day you were baptized, you received your light from Christ. Many of you received your light when you were very little. Some of you will receive your light when you are older. On the day you received your light, God said to you, "I love you. You are part of my family. I want you to be a helper in my world." Let us enjoy the Light!
People who love the Light can become one with the Light. This is how your light becomes one with the Light. Watch.
[Hold up Hie small floating candle and light it from the Christ candle. Place it in the bowl of water.]
This helps me to remember the day I received my light and became one with the Light.
I have a candle for each of you. When I call your name, you may come and light your candle from the Christ candle. (Name), this is your light.
[As people come forward to light their candles, it may be appropriate to offer occasional reflections such as: "Look how iiw light is growing. It all came from the light here." "Look— the light is in so many places at once." "Many have come to the Light to receive their light. But the Light is no smaller; in fact, it has grown" When everyone has come forward, close with the following words:]
We remember again the day that we received the light of Christ and became part of God's family. This light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as a child of the light. Let us enjoy the light of our baptisms.
"I am the Light of the World"
"Water of Life"
Time of Wondering
- I wonder what difference it makes to be domed by Christ...
- I wonder what difference it makes to belong to the family of God...
- I wonder what it means to "walk as a child of the light" ...
- I wonder what it means to "have the light entrusted to us to be kept burning brightly" ...
- I wonder how we can help each other keep our lights burning brightly...
- I wonder what it was (or will be) like on the day you received your light...
- I wonder who your parents and others who loved you felt (or will feel) on the day you received your light...
We Go in God's Name
Closing (After the Blessing)
We need to change these lights now.
[ While you snuff the baptism lights, slowly say the following words:]
as you walk as a child of the Light
... as you are clothed with Christ
... as you remember that Christ died for you so that you
... as you remember the Living Water
... as you remember and celebrate your baptism ...
[Turn to the Christ candle.]
remember that the Light of Christ is with us in many ways
at all times and places. Amen.