by Marci Auld Glass
(Incorporating Howard Thurman’s poem “the Meaning of Christmas” and the PCUSA service for Renewal of Baptism).
This morning we will be renewing our baptismal vows. If you have not been baptized yet, please be invited to participate with us during the liturgy. And then I invite you to join us for the New Member class that will begin in January. Please speak with me later if you have questions, or if you would like to talk about having your children baptized.
The Book of Order declares:
“God’s faithfulness signified in baptism is constant and sure, even when human faithfulness to God is not. Baptism is received only once. … Baptism signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. God’s grace works steadily, calling to repentance and newness of life. God’s faithfulness needs no renewal. Human faithfulness to God needs repeated renewal. Baptism calls for decision at every subsequent stage of life’s way, both for those whose baptism attends their profession of faith and for those who are nurtured from childhood within the family of faith are nurtured from childhood within the family of faith.”
Sisters and brothers in Christ,
our baptism is the sign and seal of our cleansing from sin,
and of our being grafted into Christ.
Through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the power of sin was broken
and God’s kingdom entered our world.
Through our baptism, we were made citizens of God’s kingdom,
and redeemed from sin. And the work of Christmas began.
Let us celebrate that freedom and redemption through the renewal of the promises made at our baptisms.
Because the song of the angels is stilled,
because the star in the sky is gone,
Because the kings and princes are home,
Because the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins.
We want to be equipped to join in that work:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.”
So, I ask you, therefore, once again to reject sin, to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, and to confess the faith of the church, the faith into which you were baptized.
Do you renounce all evil and powers in the world
which defy God’s righteousness and love?
I renounce them.
Do you renounce those things that separate you from the love of God?
I renounce them.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and
accept him as your Lord and Savior?
Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love, to your life’s end?
I will, with God’s help.
(At the Font)
Let us pray:
By your grace, O God, you have brought us into your covenant through the waters of baptism and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made members of the body of Christ, the church.
At this font may lives be claimed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the work and witness of your people in the world.
We did not choose you, O Lord, but you chose us while we were sitting by our nets, surrounded by the details of our lives. You chose us to join in the work of Christmas and we are humbled by the call.
Trusting in Jesus Christ, we dedicate this font in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Trusting in Jesus Christ, we dedicate our lives to you who called us into your family. We give you all thanks for these waters of baptism that have claimed us, and given us life anew. We pray that we will join with all who have passed through the water of baptism, uniting in one faith, one hope, one love. AMEN.
You are invited to come forward and touch the waters in the font, to be reminded of Jesus’ words: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;’. Be encouraged, be of good cheer.
God is loose in the world. The work of Christmas is here. Come. Be renewed. You are God’s beloveds, with whom God is well pleased.