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Archive for July, 2018

A service of Baptismu

Trinity 6, July 8: An Order of Service for Holy Baptism

Gathering of the Communitybaptism

L: There is one body and one Spirit;
R: there is one hope in God’s call to us.

Opening Hymn

The Collect for Purity (Anglican Book of Alternative Services, Canada)
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name. Amen

Holy God, open our eyes to see the truth that is before us, to sharpen our understanding so that we might learn, and to encourage us to seek the path of Jesus at all times. Amen. (Gertrude Lebans)

Invitation to Readings
L: Let us prepare ourselves for the Word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture.
R: Our hearts and minds are open.

A reading from Isaiah 55
L: Holy Word, Holy Wisdom.
R: Thanks be to God

Psalm 84, Anglican Church of Canada Hymnal: Common Praise, 498

Holy Gospel
L: The Good News according to John.
R: Praise to you O Christ.
(John 3: 1-6)
L: This is the Gospel of Christ.
R: Blessed be the Word.

Sermon (The sermon offered in this service may be found at Baptism: Transforming Community)

The Celebration of Baptism
(This section is adapted from both the New Zealand Prayer Book and the Book of Alternative Services)

Presider: God is love. God gives us life. We love because God first loved us. In baptism God declares that love; in Christ God calls us to respond.

From the beginning the Church has received believers by baptism. On the day when the apostles first urged his hearers, saying “turn and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far away, everyone whom God may call.”

Sponsor and Candidate: I hear God’s call and come for baptism.

Presider: Will you learn to recognise what you need to grow and change for the good?
Sponsor and Candidate: I will, with God’s help.

Presider: Will you proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?
Sponsor and Candidate: I will, with God’s help.

Presider: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?
Sponsor and Candidate: I will, with God’s help.

Presider: Will you work for justice and peace among all people? Will you care for God’s creation?

Sponsor and Candidate: I will, with God’s help.

Presider: Do you trust in Christ’s love which brings freedom and life? Will you turn to him in time of trouble?
Sponsor and Candidate: I will, with God’s help.

Presider: Praise God who made heaven and earth,
All: whose promise endures forever.

Presider: We thank you God for your love in all creation, especially for your gift of water to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life. We thank you for your covenant with your people Israel; through the Red Sea waters you led them to freedom in the Promised Land. In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Now sanctify this water by your Holy Spirit that those who are here cleansed and born again may continue forever in Christ’s resurrection.
All: Amen. Come Holy Spirit, lead us to light and life.

Presider: We thank you that through the new covenant we are made members of your Church and share in your eternal kingdom. through your Holy Spirit, fulfill once more your promises in this water of rebirth, set apart in the name of Jesus Christ.
All: Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honour, power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Presider: I baptize you in the name of God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. We sign you with the cross, the sign of Christ. Walk in the faith of the risen Christ.

Presider: Receive the light of Christ.

All: Amen. God receives you by baptism into the Church. Child of God, blessed in the Spirit, welcome to the family of Christ, and shine with the light of Christ.

Prayer Leader: Let us pray for the church and for the newly baptized. God our Maker, fill our hearts with love for each other and for you so that everywhere we look, we see holiness, everything we hear, tells us of your Word and everyone we meet is an opportunity to experience Jesus the risen Lord. May all who have been baptized into your Way, find Life in their calling, and seek eagerly after the truth of love and service. Amen.

Celebration of Faith
Let us celebrate our faith.
We believe in God, creator of the earth, creator of life and freedom, hope of the poor.
Do you believe in Jesus the Anointed One of God?
We believe in Jesus the Christ, friend in suffering, companion in the resurrection, way of peace.
Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
We believe in the Holy Spirit, that holy force impelling the poor to build a church of the beatitudes. We recognize one baptism in the blood of witnesses to truth; we confess our faith in the law of love. We wait for the resurrection of the people and joyfully praise our Lord, who has looked with favour upon the disinherited, those who have no bread, no home and no land. Amen.
(Fray Guillermo Chavez, Ecuador “Iglesia Solidaria”, 1987)

Prayers of the People
(Adapted from the Book of Alternative Services)
L: Let us pray together to the Lord, saying, “Holy One, hear us with compassion.”

L: Loving God, we thank you for your many gifts to us, for the love which brings us together, for the earth which provides for our needs, for the new life you have given us in Jesus Christ, (for…). Let us pray.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassion.

L: We pray to you for our Christian family (especially for…) and for grace to grow in your love. Let us pray.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassio

L: We pray to you for our world, for all its care and needs, and for all who lead us and care for us (especially…). Let us pray.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassion.

L: We pray to you for those in need, for the sick and the lonely, for the hurt and the frightened, and for those who live without hope (especially…). Let us pray.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassion.

L: We pray for those we love who have died, that you will surround them with your care and love (especially…). Let us pray.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassion.

L: We pray for one another, asking you to bless us, our friends, and relatives. Bless the places where we work and bless our home and our life together.
R: Holy One, hear us with compassion.

The Peace
Presider: May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.
All: And also with you.

Celebration of the Eucharist

Offertory Hymn

Prayer over the Gifts
Holy One, we bring ourselves and these gifts from our abundance. May we grow in your service. Amen.
(Gertrude Lebans)

The Great Thanksgiving
(Gertrude Lebans)
Presider: May the Spirit of the Holy One abide with you.
All: And also with you.

Presider: Lift your hearts to the skies where the winds sing praise to God.
All: We raise our hearts in trust and hope.

Presider: Let us give thanks to God
All: Who blesses us with life for evermore.

Presider: Holy Mystery, you touch all people with a sense of your abiding presence. You dwell within the human heart at peace; you teach compassion by sending messengers of justice and understanding. Joining in the song of the universe we proclaim your glory:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Presider: Gracious God, for all people you offer human examples of love and peace. We received Jesus as our teacher and friend, the one who would show us how to open our souls to you. through his life, we remembered the mystery of incarnation, the holiness that is at the heart of all life, that rocks the cradle, the world in which we live.

In his great compassion, Jesus healed the sick and saw in each person dignity and potential. For us, he became Love Incarnate in human form. For us, he became your promise of life everlasting and love beyond all exhaustion or limit.

When Jesus knew that his time of trial approached, he gathered his friends and family together. Anointed as sacrifice and blessing by a woman disciple, Jesus reached out to those who loved him. He took bread, gave thanks to you, broke it and gave it to his friends, saying, “Take and eat: this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” After supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, gave you thanks, and said “Drink this all of you,” as a sign of his life, given as the covenant of love and forgiveness for everyone. He said, “Whenever you drink it, remember me.”

Holy Spirit, love in creation and love in relationship, may these gifts from the earth become insight into the holiness that is your breath in the world and in our lives; through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in relationship with all that lives and has given life, we lift our songs of praise.
All: Alleluia, amen.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Breaking of Bread
In Christ we are made whole.
In him we find hope and joy.

This is the table where Christ is host. All are welcome to come, guests and family together.

Communion Hymn

Prayer after Communion
As Jesus constantly revealed your love and compassion to others, so may we learn to reflect your grace in our lives. Amen.
(Gertrude Lebans)

As you return to the world, remember that you are Christ’s hands and feet. Walk gently on this sacred earth. Bless those you meet, sowing seeds of hope and reconciliation. In the name of the Holy One who creates, the One who calls us into community, and the One who inspires our imagination, Amen.
(Gertrude Lebans)

Closing Hymn

Be joyful and make the world more peaceful and loving as you carry Christ in your heart.
All: Alleluia!
(Gertrude Lebans)

Baptism: Transforming Community


As we prepare to receive this little one into the church, let us take a moment to remember what we have thought and what we could think about this ancient rite. All over the world people have thought to bathe in streams and rivers and lakes as a sign of a new beginning, of cleansing, and of blessing.

Our baptism had its symbolic origins in the Jewish rite of cleansing. By the first century, people of means would have a mikveh (ritual bath) in their homes. Unless they lived near a stream, they would have had to have water brought in from a cistern or nearby well, which would suggest they also had servants or slaves. This cleansing was both personal — in terms of a purified body — and social — in terms of a communal act of repentance.

John the Baptist accomplishes two actions in his call to repentance. The people who come to hear him and be baptized must be either humble in station or humble in spirit. Were they well-to-do, why would they come to the shore with others who could not afford a private mikveh in their homes? And if they were financially secure, were they Roman collaborators?

John’s call is for a return to the values and identity of the desert, of the covenants. It is a call to the faithful to turn away from Roman values and customs. It is a divisive call because to respond to John’s call meant an intentional rejection of the values of the occupation and its rulers. John’s call for repentance is less personal and more communal. It focusses on the expectation that the people of Israel will be holy and righteous as a grateful response to the love and fidelity of God. Repentance is not about guilt, but about radical change in attitude and behaviour.

The only story of baptism is Jesus’ own. And Jesus does not baptize anyone else himself. Indeed he says to one person to return to his priest for cleansing. Paul, that great interpreter of the early faith, refers to baptism as union with Christ in which people die to the limits of this world and live into the resurrection of Christ. The act of baptism is a culmination of the conversion experience and a turning from all paths except the Way of Jesus, a way which leads to eternal life.


The early church, however, also adopts John’s call for baptism as a cleansing of sin. By the time of Augustine of Hippo, the doctrine of original sin transmitted through conception (i.e. the “taint” of a woman), becomes generally accepted. This unhappy state of affairs could be removed only by Christian baptism. Sin moved from communal infidelity to the covenant to a personal, individual, and dangerous action.

Today, many of us are convinced that God speaks through varied names, in different languages and rites. The test of congruity for Christians is the test of love, social justice, and care for the earth. With this practice, we see that we are all part of the divine program to heal ourselves and our world.

Few of us accept the idea of an original sin which must be expunged, although we would all agree that the norms for humanity must still be taught. Our social evolution has not yet brought us far enough for empathy to be necessarily natural. We realize now that we are not sinful but we are naturally predators, and that energy must be channelled into helpful behaviours.

So what does baptism today mean? I think we would want to retain the idea that baptism brings a person into a familial relationship with the church. We would hope that every person baptized would know that a church was a place of sanctuary and healing for them; that church would be safe space to which a person can always return, no matter how far away they travel.

Baptism is a sign of the pilgrim, of a person on a mission. Jesus gave us a mission to transform the world by our compassion, by our integrity, by our hospitality, and by out generosity. He taught us not to fear difference or otherness, but to make friends everywhere and with everyone. It is no small task to transform the world, so I think that baptism makes us fearless in working with others who share this vision for our planet, our people, and all the creatures.

Finally, baptism offers us a promise that in life and in death we are held in the palm of God’s hand. Death is an event ushering us into new life, as mysterious and unimaginable as our birth. It is the responsibility of the church to ensure that every person baptized by our hand, is also baptized into awe and wonder. All of us must ensure that we remember to hear the wind in the trees and that we are fascinated by the life of other creatures. Mountains and oceans, the sun rising and setting, the mother of pearl that is the moon: all of this calls to us to worship and give thanks. We have nothing to prove and everything to experience and learn. We are all infants at being human, but we trust that the Holy One loves us and is nudging us into full humanity, that one day we may all feel the light of Christ within us and that it may glow steadily without fading.

And so these are the requirements of baptism: wonder, trust in Jesus’ promises, commitment to transforming the world, a willingness to be a lover with God, who created all things in love, and who yearns for us, always.