Baptism

IMG_5930Baptism – Christening – Naming  – Dedication

What words do we use to present our children to God?

To affirm their welcome by God?

To welcome them into the family of God?

 

IMG_2258God of new beginnings,

Today we remember our baptisms:

A day shrouded in an infant’s hidden memory

A day chiselled in the sharp memory of a teenager

A day gloriously shining in the memory of a new convert.

Your promises live in each of us

Born anew in the waters of baptism

Generation to generation

Your spirit lives in each of us

Walking in your footsteps

Step by step

Your forgiveness lives in each of us

Kneeling in repentance

Open to your Spirit

Welcome into our hearts anew

Lectionary application:
Year A: Third Sunday of Easter (30 April 2017)
Based on Acts 2:14a,36-4

Let us prayerfully focus on this water, as I pour it into the bowl, and as we do, let each of us infuse it with our commitments to share with (this child / name) the unique gifts that God has given us, gifts (this child / name) will need from us as s/he goes along life’s way.

Each person touches the water as it is passed around the circle, and can say a few words of blessing if they choose.

Baptism Raphaella Roo 2We are here to praise God for the life of Child, our young friend, who in such a short time has brought us so much joy. Through Child we have experienced birth again in a new and more conscious way; in her/him, God has created the world again, opening us to wonder and possibility that we had forgotten. We live not for ourselves alone, but toward God and for each other. Our lives are bound in a covenant of love with Child.

We baptize Child with our desire to show him/her a way of life that naturally displays love, respect, and justice. We baptize him/her with our intention to witness the unfolding of God’s creation as s/he grows and changes. We baptize her/him with our desire to be in God’s presence as we are in his/her presence. We baptize Child with our desire to see her/him grow in spiritual maturity, in wisdom, and in soulful service to others, following in the spiritual footsteps of all the great mystics and spiritual teachers of the world.

Each of us here has a unique role in raising this beautiful child. Do you, his/her parents, commit yourselves to raising her/him in a manner that inspires faithfulness, compassion, and spiritual growth? If so, say, We do. And do we, the family and friends of Child, commit ourselves to being a faithful community that will guide and support him/her through life? If so, let us say, We do.

Let us prayimg_2225erfully focus on this water, as I pour it into the bowl, and as we do, let each of us infuse it with our commitments to share with Child the unique gifts that God has given us, gifts s/he’ll need from us as s/he goes along life’s way.

Each person touches the water as it is passed around the circle, and can say a few words of blessing if they choose.

To paraphrase the scripture: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you; therefore this child shall be called holy, a child of God. Let us repeat his/her name together…

All gathered recite Child‘s full name while the mark of the cross is made on Child‘s forehead with water)

Child, with this water we baptize you with the love that is God, known to us among other names as the [include names for God that are meaningful for this gathering].

Hold child before the gathered people, saying: “I present to you Child, God’s gift to his/her parents, to his/her family, and to the world! Amen!”

 

Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, writes progressive prayers, hymns and other worship items.  Many of his liturgical materials can be found in his book “Birdlike and Barnless:  Meditations, Prayers, and Songs for Progressive Christians”  (2008, St Johann Press).  Explore his blog for more words for worship.

Description:  Each volunteer receives a giant letter from the theme word, in this case PARENT, and is asked to hold it, hidden, facing their stomach.  When the letter is called out, the person holding the matching letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.  They can lower it to neck level, still facing out, when the next letter is held high.  At the end of the reflection, the theme word, PARENT, appears for all to see.

Why an activity in a service?   Baptism services often include several children in the congregation, so I often incorporate into the service a reflection/activity which includes group participation.  Little children can help, also, accompanying a parent or older child.  Adults can fill in when there are not enough willing children.

Preparation:  Write large letters on pieces of paper: P,A,R,E,N,T

 

SCRIPT

Leader:

I need some children to help me out, 6 to be exact. You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child/volunteer a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.  Be sure they hold it hidden close to their chest, to start.]

To congregation:

In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, to be a positive parental model of good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Cor 1:11)

Using the word PARENT as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting and god-parenting wisdom to share.  So, thinking about parenting, I have had a bit of fun with the word PARENT.  My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

So how can we be great parents for our children?

What is the first letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: P.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.  Then child holding that letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.]

P – P is for Prayer.  Pray for your child, to see God in your child and in every child, and pray for yourself to be the best parent you can be.  P is for…Pray.

Option:  P – is for Present: Be Present. As it says in Deuteronomy (31:6), “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  P is for… Present.

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: A.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.]

A – is for Affirmation: children need to know they are loved.  Matthew reminds us to affirm in others a good character, skills and gifts.  (Matthew 3:17)    A – is for Affirmation.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: R.]

R – is for Reasonable:  set Reasonable limits. As Proverb suggests, establish good and clear boundaries. (Proverbs 16:25) And in those moments when you are not reasonable, apologize.  Help your child know that sometimes you get it wrong, and sometimes you have to say sorry and make things right again.   R – is for Reasonable.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: E.]

E – is for Example – Be a good example for your children.  Paul urges the Corinthians to model good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11)  E – is for Example.

 

What is the next letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: N.]

N – is for Nice!   Be nice, be decent to your children. Extravagantly show your children the love you have for them. Even when disciplining them, be considerate. Regardless of the choices they make, show them love.

Option:   N – is for Now.  Live in the Now!  Don’t wait.  Be present for your child Now, today, in this moment.  Extravagantly demonstrate the love you have for them – by listening, by looking them in the eye, by turning off your mobile, by turning off the computer, by getting down on the floor and playing or cuddling up with a book, when you really would rather be doing something else.  Now is the only time we have with our children.  Don’t miss it.  N—is for now.

 

What is the last letter in the word “parent”?  [congregation responds: T. ]

T – is for Teach.   Teach your child right from wrong, especially from your own example.  Be a good role model. Proverbs urges parents to teach your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6)

Option:  T – if for Training: Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6)

Don’t leave this responsibility for others, but share it with others.  Share it with teachers at school, at church, at the sports centre.  Share it with doctors and nurses.  Teach your child so that they know how to nurture their mind, their body and their soul.  T – is for Teach.

 

So, what must we remember as parents?…

A Parent … [Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word.]

  • A parent? ……Prays   /  Option:   A Parent is… Present
  • A parent? ……Affirms
  • A parent is? ……Reasonable
  • A parent sets a good … Example
  • A parent lives in the … Now, and  /  Option:    A parent is … Nice
  • A parent? …… Teaches their children.    / Option:  A parent … Trains their children.

May you, as parents of these children, and all parents gathered here today, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

A big thank you to you children who have been brave and helped me out up here.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to where you were sitting.

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.

photo by Claire Daley

Description:  Each volunteer receives a giant letter from the theme word, in this case POSITIVE, and is asked to hold it, hidden, facing their stomach.  When the letter is called out, the person holding the matching letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.  They can lower it to neck level, still facing out, when the next letter is held high.  At the end of the reflection, the theme word, POSITIVE, appears for all to see.

Why an activity in a service?   Baptism services often include several children in the congregation, so I often incorporate into the service a reflection/activity which includes group participation.  Little children can help, also, accompanying a parent or older child.  Adults can fill in when there are not enough willing children.

Preparation:  Write large letters on pieces of paper: P,O,S,I,T,I,V,E

SCRIPT

Leader:  We’re going to consider the word “positive” this morning/afternoon.  In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, and to their children, to be a positive model of good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11).  Your child or godchild will follow your example, not your advice.  So using POSITIVE as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting and god-parenting wisdom to share.

I need eight (8) children/volunteers to help me up here in the front.  You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.]

So, thinking about being positive examples for our children, I have had a bit of fun with the word POSITIVE.

My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

 

To congregation:

What is the first letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: P.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.]

P –P is for Pray.  Pray for your child, to see God in your child and in every child, and pray for yourself to be the best parent you can be.  P is for…Pray.

 

What is the second letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: O.  If they are still hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.]

O – O is for Open.  Openly apologize.  Openly make amends.  (I think I wanted this one to be an A!)  Open yourself to humility, and show you child that sometimes you get it wrong, and sometimes you have to say sorry and make things right again.  O is for…open.

 

What is the third letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: S.]

S – is for Spend.  Not just spend money, but spend TIME.  Spend time with your child.  Pay attention to your child.  Listen to your child.  S is for…spend. 

 

What is the fourth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: I.]

I – is for Involve.  Involve you child in doing good.  Involve your child in thinking about how you and your family can help others.  We involved our children in our tithing – as for our church offering, they would often put the envelope in the collection plate.  And also each Friday when my son and daughter were young, we would decide as a family where we would make a special gift that week – their suggestions were taken seriously from Save the Whales to Christian Aid gifts for children in a country at war, to a teddy bear for the children’s ward at the local hospital. [Give examples from your own experience.]  Find ways to involve your children in giving and doing good.  I is for…involve

 

What is the fourth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: T.]

T – is for Teach.   Teach your child right from wrong, especially from your own example.  Be a good role model. T is for…teach.

 

What is the fifth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: I.]

I – is for Inspire.  Inspire your child to be creative and curious.  Inspire your child to gaze at God’s boundless creation and wonder.  Inspire your child to dream and to explore.  I is for…inspire

 

What is the sixth letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: V.]

V – is for Vote.  Vote.  Vote for your child to ensure them fair opportunities.  Vote for the world’s children to ensure them safe water and a safe night’s sleep.  Model civic responsibility to your child so they grow up with a sense of responsibility, not just to themselves, but for others.  V is for….Vote.

 

What is the seventh letter of the word “Positive”?   [congregation responds: E.]

E – is for Educate.  Educate your child in mind, body and soul.  Don’t leave this responsibility for others, but share it with others.  Share it with teachers at school, at church, at the sports centre.  Share it with doctors and nurses.  Educate your child so that they know how to nurture their mind, their body and their soul.   E is for … Educate.

 

So, what must we remember about being positive examples to our children?…  What do the letters stand for?

[Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word. Insert helpful clues, words or phrases that can help the congregation remember the word.  Make it easy, not a test.  Help the congregation succeed.]

  • P is for  …. Pray.
  • O …be … Open. 
  • S … Spend  TIME
  • I … be … Involved.  I
  • T is for … Teach.   Teach your child
  • I is for  …  Inspire. 
  • V is for….Vote.
  • E  is for … Educate.  

Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a positive loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6).  This you will do through your own good POSITIVE example.  May you, parents all, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

To volunteers:  Thank you for helping me out.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against the wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to your seats.

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.

Description:  Each volunteer receives a giant letter from the theme word, in this case EXAMPLE, and is asked to hold it, hidden, facing their stomach.  When the letter is called out, the person holding the matching letter turns it around and holds it up high for all to see.  They can lower it to neck level, still facing out, when the next letter is held high.  At the end of the reflection, the theme word, EXAMPLE, appears for all to see.

Why an activity in a service?   Baptism services often include several children in the congregation, so I often incorporate into the service a reflection/activity which includes group participation.  Little children can help, also, accompanying a parent or older child.  Adults can fill in when there are not enough willing children.

 

Preparation:  Write large letters on pieces of paper:  E, X, A, M, P, L, E

SCRIPT

Leader:  

I need seven (7) children/volunteers to help me up here in the front.  You will not need to say anything. (Provide as much explanation as necessary until the required number of volunteers stand at the front.)

[Give each child a giant letter to hold, in the correct spelling order, first letter on left.]

In the Bible, Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be good examples to others, and to their children, to model good values and loving and mature behaviour, both in public and behind closed doors. (Corinthians 1:11)  Your child will follow your example, not your advice.  So using EXAMPLE as our guide, I’ve gathered some parenting wisdom to share.

So, thinking about being positive examples for our children, I have had a bit of fun with the word EXAMPLE.

My great crew of volunteers will be helping out.

To congregation:

What is the first letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: E.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Have some fun with this.  When they say it, have the child holding that letter, turn it over and hold it up high.  ]

E is for…   Easy does it.  Don’t make life too complicated.

[Have child lower the letter to in front of their chest, and have them continue to hold it there so it can be seen.]

What is the second letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: X.  If they are hesitant, ask them to call it out louder.  Keep it fun.]

X is for…  X stands for Kiss.  Remember kisses and hugs.

What is the third letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: A.]

A is for…  Attitude:  The Attitude you have as a parent is what your children will learn from, more than what you tell them.  So have a positive and encouraging attitude.

What is the fourth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: M]

M is for… Motivate:  Motivate your child with encouragement and love, without pressurizing them.  In the Bible, Matthew reminds us to affirm in others a good character, skills and gifts (Matt 3:17)

What is the fifth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: P.]

P is for…  Power:  your words have great Power, use them wisely

What is the sixth letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: L.]

L for…  Laugh – remember to Laugh out loud in your home and with your children.

What is the seventh letter of the word “Example”?   [congregation responds: E]  Yes, another E.

E for…  Everlasting – May your love for your child be like God’s love for you, everlasting.  Even when they disappoint you and you feel ready to disown them, may your love endure, and be Everlasting.

Proverbs urges parents to equip train your child to be a loving and generous human being, equipped to one day leave home with good skills, abilities, values and responsibilities (Proverbs 22:6).  This you will do through your own good EXAMPLE.  May you, parents all, faithfully step up to the responsibility with which God has entrusted you, and turn to the godparents and others whenever your task of parenting seems daunting.  You are not alone.

So, what must we remember about being positive examples to our children?…  What do the letters stand for?

[Point to each letter being held.  Pause long enough for the congregation to call out the word. Insert helpful clues, words or phrases that can help the congregation remember the word.  Make it easy, not a test.  Help the congregation succeed.]

  • E is for… Easy does it.
  • X is for…. Kiss
  • A is for … Attitude … have a positive attitude
  • M is for … Motivate
  • P is for  … Power… remember the power of your words
  • L is for… laugh
  • E  is for … Everlasting… Have everlasting love.  

To volunteers:  Thank you for helping me out.  Please place your letter face-up on the floor (or lean against the wall) so we can still see the word.  Thank you.  You may return to your seats.

If many of the children volunteers are visitors to the congregation, presenting each with a simple thank-you gift can be appropriate, e.g. a simple bookmark about the church or with a Bible reading on it.

photo by Ben Ulrich

While the reference to the Archer is masculine, it is easy to alter the text through omission and parallel word usage at the time of reading, informing the listeners of any changes.

 

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

 

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

 

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.

photo (3)Our stories lie down in the orchard,
their time is not now, but something is
coming, something is going away. They
rise to the stars, and wait to be told.
There are listeners who know how little
we know, how much we are feeling.
We had to go our own way, a little off course,
always, no matter how specific the directions
seemed at the time. In this universe if we’re lucky,
we will live in our children’s stories,
their tales that will turn us to legend,
some absurd truth that has nothing to do
with our plans, our meticulous records.
No matter what stories we discard or keep,
they will give us a life we cannot imagine.

From The Light of Invisible Bodies, a book of poems by Jeanne Lohmann, a Quaker of Olympia, Washington USA

Baptism Hymns & Songs

IMG_8813Tune: Ar Hyd Y Nos (All Through the Night)
In this sacrament with water
God can be seen;
In each human son and daughter
God can be seen;
When love streams from fathers, mothers,
Gen’rously from sisters, brothers,
When compassion flows from others
God can be seen.
God in love’s refreshing water
Brings us to life;
God in love’s creative water
Brings us to life;
Water, vital for our growing,
Health and energy bestowing,
Like God’s love, is overflowing
Brings us to life.
Joining in this solemn moment
Our spirits rise;
As we pledge our shared commitment
Our spirits rise;
Through this joyous celebration
We receive God’s affirmation;
So it is with all creation
Our spirits rise.

Lyrics may be used freely, as George Stuart has graciously granted access to all his hymns without copyright infringement. Explore his website for progressive and thoughtful hymns relevant to a variety of rituals and lectionary-based.

In this Sacrament with Water can be found in the collection, Singing a New Song, Volume 3