January 9, 2005 – 1st Sunday after Epiphany/
The Baptism of Our Lord
Revised Common Lectionary Readings
And Do You Come to Me?
*Call to Worship
Beloved of God,
yet one of us,
you stand before us,
clothed in robes of humanness,
entering the waters of our drowning,
yet rising free as living witness
to God’s power and grace.
This is the Christ of the universe,
vulnerable one, passionate one,
blessed for all time
and gathered into the life of God.
Let us worship our God.
*Prayer of Invocation
And do you come to us, Jesus Christ?
Do you stay here among us,
waiting for us to see you
and to claim you as one of us,
and yet our God?
We believe that you are in this place.
We hear faint echoes
of the voice of God’s announcing
and wait to receive your gift of peace.
We pray that you will be alive in this place
and in our hearts, loving Jesus. Amen.
*Prayer of Confession
O God, just as John the Baptist asked
why the Christ would approach for his baptism,
so we wonder why you would come to us here.
We are far from worthy to receive you, Jesus.
We sometimes wonder
if you would do better in the world
without our very human company.
There are so many times when we fail you,
when those we meet
receive less than your grace from us.
When we look at the world,
we know that we have far to go
before your reign is established.
We doubt that you, Holy God,
would always be pleased with us
as we so often betray your hopes for us
and for your church.
Come close to us now,
we pray, O God.
Refresh our lives
with the flowing grace
of your forgiveness.
Remind us of our calling,
that we may be your people.
In the name of the Christ. Amen.
*Words of Assurance
In our baptism,
we are assured of the unfailing love of God.
Even before we could know it or earn it,
we were surrounded by grace.
God, in Christ, will never fail us.
We are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
*Prayer of Thanksgiving
Thanks be to God for the water of life,
shed in tears of grieving,
then flowing in healing balm.
Thanks be to God for water of kindness,
dried up in the scorching heat of our mistakes
and returned in kindness
to quench our parched souls.
Thanks be to God for the water of creativity,
spent in lavish self-indulgences
and given as gift for a new future.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
It is interesting to reflect on the reasons Jesus might have had for asking John to baptize him? Was it part of the affirmation of his complete humanness – that as one who had not yet assumed his life as the Christ, he needed to be included in the bestowing of the absolute grace of God, which is announced in our baptism? Could it also be that, if Christ comes to us as human beings “to be baptized” it is because God needs us to present Christ to the world? In baptizing Jesus, John the Baptist placed him before the people and then God did the rest, however we see that moment. By whatever means, the people present suddenly saw that they were in the presence of the beloved of God, the one who was claimed by God as Son. Could it be that God relies on our actions to bring before the world the presence of the Christ in ways that people can recognize and understand?
God is eternally kind to us.
Let us be kind to others
in the bringing of our offering.
We can never match your generosity, O God,
but we bring our offerings,
in faith, to you this day.
We pray that you will receive them now.
*Prayer of Intercession
O God, we long to be those
who point to your life
among us and abroad in all the world.
that you will make clear your calling to us
as we confront
the confusing and complex realities of our day.
Come close to us as wisdom,
be near to us as justice,
stay with us in faithfulness and courage,
hold firm in us
the truth we need to be your people.
In this moment, as we see your presence here,
we keep silence before you,
that our voices may not drown out
your speaking to us.
A silence is kept.
We know that we will never fully know
your plan for humankind, O God,
but into the silences we have heard the cries
from these people and situations,
and we bring them before you now.
The people pray.
Gracious God, have mercy on them.
Open our hearts and lives,
that we may also be part of that mercy.
Gather our lives toward you, Jesus Christ,
that we may meet you
in the place of your choosing.
This we pray in your name. Amen.
Let us leave this place
of word and prayer in faith,
moving into the world
with the vision of God’s justice before us.
Go with the courage of God
to challenge our fear,
with the clarity of Christ
to confront our confusions,
and the comfort of the Holy Spirit
flowing over our lives. Amen.