In Isaiah 43.1-7 God promises, “I have redeemed you. When you go through the waters they will not overwhelm you: for I love you and I will be with you.”
Psalm 29 celebrates “the voice of the Lord,” meaning God’s presence, God’s will or desire, and God’s power, evident in all Creation.
In Acts 8. 14-17 the church learns that even Samaritans are following Jesus. They send Peter and John, who pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 3.15-22 Jesus is baptized. God says, “You are my Son, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” This is a composite quote of Psalm 2.7, a reference to a Messiah king; and Isaiah 42.1, a reference to God’s servant who endures suffering in order to fulfill God’s desire for justice.
Contrary to popular belief, baptism is not a sign of a believer’s faithfulness, but a sign of God’s. (John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but Christian baptism is a recognition of the Holy Spirit in us whether we repent nor not!) We are immersed in God’s grace, “born again” not of our own believing but of God’s grace. We don’t “get our children”— or ourselves— baptized. Baptism isn’t something we do at all, but something God does. The Baptismal service is our way of beholding what God has done and is doing in the person baptized—and in the community, for we are charged to treat the person as God’s beloved so they can accept it and integrate it for themselves.
Therefore the sacrament of baptism is not repeated: God got it right the first time. But we need to continually renew our awareness of our baptism, our awareness of God’s faithful love for us and the invitation to live out a faithful response. The Baptism of Jesus is a wonderful time for a congregational service of Baptismal renewal. Here is a service of baptism that may be used for a baptismal renewal. (At the top of that page is a link to a downloadable document for ease of editing.)
Call to Worship
Leader: God of majesty and might, God of cloud and ocean:
All: you rain down blessing upon us.
Fountain of Life, Womb of the World,
you birth us in love and glory.
Christ our sibling, living Cup of Salvation::
you heal us, you wash us clean, you quench the thirst of our souls.
Holy Spirit,River of Grace, tears of God’s Joy and Sorrow:
you flow in our veins, you pour out into the world—
new life for all Creation! Alleluia!
2. (Adapted from Psalm 29)
Leader: Rejoice, O powers of the universe,
rejoice in the glory and strength of God.
All: God’s voice thunders over the mighty waters,
wonderful and majestic.
God’s power splinters cedars;
God’s presence flashes like fire
and shakes whole nations.
And over the flood is God, ruling forever.
God, bless us with your Spirit and your peace.
Leader: Creator God, in the beginning your Spirit brooded over the waters
and you brought forth light.
All: Your Spirit gives us birth. Your light shines within us.
Brother Christ, you submitted to baptism in the Jordan River;
you immersed yourself in our life.
Your presence warms us. We rejoice in your grace.
Holy Spirit, your breath gives us life; your flame burns with compassion within us.
Alleluia! We immerse ourselves in your grace,
that we may always shine with the light of your love. Alleluia!
Leader: Creator God, the river of your grace flows about us.
All: We enter into its flow, deep in wonder, swimming in your grace.
Rabbi Jesus, you were baptized by John in the Jordan.
We come with you to be washed in the grace of God,
to be immersed in the glory of the Beloved.
Holy Spirit, you came to Jesus at his baptism like a dove.
Come to us, and fill us with the joy of your presence,
the song of your power, the feathers of delight.
Give us wings to do your will, and to be your people.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!
Collect / Prayer of the Day
God of love, Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized by John. With Jesus we come to the water to be immersed in your grace. Receive us, wash us and renew us. Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire, that we may flow with your grace all our days, in the name of Christ. Amen.
Loving God, Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized. So we come to your Word, to wade in deep, to be immersed in your grace, to let the Mystery flow around us. We listen for your voice. May we hear your Living Word. Amen.
God of truth, at Jesus’ baptism you spoke words of love and grace. We come now and immerse ourselves in your presence, and sink beneath the surface of your Word. We listen for your voice. Speak to us, and let us hear. Send the dove of your Spirit upon us and let us be changed. We pray in the name of Jesus, and in the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Gracious God, deep river of blessing, as Jesus went into the waters of the Jordan, we come now to be immersed in your Word. You have said we are your beloved children in whom you are well pleased. May the heavens be opened for us; may your Spirit descend upon us. Speak your Good News to us, and transform our hearts, that we may live new lives for your sake and the sake of your Gospel. Amen.
(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)
God of love,
the clear waters of your grace swirl around us.
The stream of your love flows from deep springs to the sea,
from here to the ends of the earth,
from ancient generations to those yet to come.
We sink deep in your blessing.
We let your presence wash over us.
Bathe us in the waters of your grace.
God, you said to Jesus “You are my Beloved.”
We immerse ourselves in your Word.
Let your love flow around us,
hold us gently, wash us clean,
and give us joy.
You said, “You are my servant in whom I am delighted.”
Let your Word hold us up and bear us on,
carrying us into the lives to which you call us,
to serve you in love and justice,
in the name and the company of Jesus.
Prayer of Dedication / Sending
We are baptized with Christ, and the Spirit of God is upon us
to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind,
and liberty to the oppressed.
The Spirit drives us into the wilderness,
into the world, into the arms of God.
Send us, then, God, in the name and the Spirit and the company of Jesus. Amen.
See all songs with “Baptism” tags, especially these:
(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)
Immersed in Blessing (Tune: Joyful, Joyful)
Baptized in your grace with Jesus, loving God, we sing your praise.
Echoing your own delight, with joy and thanks our song we raise.
Your beloved children, birthed anew and rising from your womb,
God, we bear your love through all our living, and beyond the tomb.
God you heal, forgive and nourish, and revive us breath by breath;
you restore our broken trust and save us from our fear of death.
Like a dry and withered plant revived by water at its root,
we are saved by streams of grace, for flourishing and bearing fruit.
Bathed in grace, immersed in blessing, joined with your Beloved Son,
how can we not love each other?— for your Spirit makes us One.
Carried on a stream of mercy, springs beneath and rain above,
may we flow with peace and in your Spirit flood the world with love.
When Jesus was Baptized (Tune: Cradle Song, Wm. Kirkpatrick)
When Jesus was baptized, John said to repent,
and follow the Righteous One whom God had sent.
So wash us, dear God, and create us anew,
born fresh from your grace, living wholly in you.
When Jesus was baptized in waters that flow,
he sank in the Source of what makes all things grow.
So, held in Creation, renewed and made one,
we swim in the grace of your life-giving Son.
When Jesus was baptized in light, like a dove
your Spirit came down and you filled him with love.
So give us your Spirit: let all that we do
be you living in us, as we live in you.
When Jesus was baptized you spoke from above,
saying “This is my servant, my son, whom I love.”
So help us to hear you speak love when you call,
and as your Beloved, share freely with all.
You Are My Delight (Tune: Londonderry Air, Oh, Danny Boy)
We come with you, dear Jesus, through the desert hills,
down to the river, flowing gently by,
where through the rocks and valleys, deepening, it spills,
and flows into the sea, the earth, the sky.
As we sink down and rise up from the water
a dove descends, a voice speaks, clear and bright:
“Know you are my beloved son, my daughter,
my spirit is in you and you are my delight.”
We go our way, and in our daily living
we follow you, and scatter rays of love
in deeds of caring, healing grace and giving,
for still we hear that voice and see the dove:
“No river can undo you, for with you I go.
I give my heart to you, and give you light.
For you are mine, I hold you and I love you so.
All water says, Remember you are my delight.”