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Baptism of the Lord — Family faith formation for January 9, 2021

Welcome

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.

One: The season of Advent is past and the celebration of Christmas is given way to a new year, but the story of God’s faithful love continues in 

All: Jesus the Christ

One: The Magi followed the star to discover the light that overcomes darkness

(Place a candle on a table but don’t light it yet.)

All: Jesus the Christ

One: The light of the world is God’s own Son:

(Light the candle)

All: Jesus the Christ

One: Baptized by water and the Spirit he was anointed by God as

(Place the bowl of water on the table.)

All: Jesus the Christ

One: We give thanks and remember that we too are baptized and made siblings with

(Each person touches the water)

All: Jesus the Christ

 One: We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading   

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something – a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world … [invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier]. We bring our prayers to you, prayers for … [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name, we pray.  Amen.

Connecting with Scripture — Isaiah 43:1-7 (NRSV, CEB) and Luke 3:21-22 (NRSV, CEB)

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

As you read the Isaiah passage a second time, read it as if it was a letter written directly to each person gathered.

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie “Freedom Writers”: 

  • Why is Ms. Gruwell upset with Andre?
  • Why is she unwilling to accept that he views himself as a failure?
  • What is her commitment to him and why does she make that commitment?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • As you read and heard the Isaiah passage read, what did you first notice about it?
  • What are the affirmations and promises God makes in these passages?
  • How is God speaking to you through this Isaiah passage?
  • As you read the Isaiah passage in conjunction with the story of Jesus’ baptism, how do these two passages connect?
  • What do you think it means to be created and formed by God? For God to call us by name?
  • How does that shape our relationship with God?
  • How does that give us strength when we have struggles and things are hard?
  • What is the significance of our being loved by and precious in God’s sight?
  • In what ways are we/you valuable? Valued by God?
  • How does God give us/you value? Why does God give us value?
  • How does that change or affect how you understand yourself?
  • How does baptism remind you of you who are and whose your are? How does it remind you of your value?
  • What difference would it make if each time there was a baptism you were reminded that you are God’s beloved child with whom God is well pleased?
  • In what ways do you feel/believe that you are valuable and you are loved by God without having to do anything to earn it? In what ways do you doubt it?
  • How would you live differently if you truly, with your whole heart and being, believed you are valuable, loved by God and precious in God’s sight?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • In the Reformed Presbyterian tradition, we believe there are two sacraments, baptism and communion, which were commanded by Jesus. The Great Commission in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…,” provides the charge for baptism. Jesus, in the Last Supper text in Luke 22, directs his disciples to, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
  • Jesus himself participated in both – he was baptized and he served as the host at a sacred meal that would be reoriented from his Last Supper to the Lord’s Supper.
  • Today we focus on his baptism and in so doing find new meaning and insight into our own baptism.
  • While baptism is not the moment in which we become children of God it is the sign and seal that we belong to God – body and soul, in life and in death – bound in a bond that can never be broken.
  • God knew, as humans, we would need outward signs – physical, tangible things and acts – to remind us of the invisible grace and truth of who God is and who we are in relation to God. It is easy to forget who we are, and whose we are, in our busy, and often loud, lives.
  • Every time we see and participate in a baptism, we are reminded that we too are baptized — just as Jesus was. We too – in the sound of the water, in the name of Trinity, in the binding by the Spirit, in the taking and the renewing of vows – can hear the words of echoes of God’s words, “You are my child, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
  • The pairing of the Isaiah passage with the baptism of Jesus, emphasizes the intimate and compassionate commitment God has to and for us. It is God who forms us, redeems us, calls us by name – all acts revealed and reverberated in baptism. The Isaiah text, as in baptism, reminds us that we are precious, honored and loved beyond our comprehension – not because of anything we do but because of what God has already done and continues to do.
  • Just as the Isaiah text reminds us that our value and our worth come not from our own endeavors, so too does baptism. They, our value, our worth, our baptism are God’s work … not ours. No one can diminish or destroy it — not even ourselves. God has, and does, invest in and provide for us – all before we even thought to ask. This is the meaning and embodiment of grace.
  • Therefore, because of these mighty grace-filled acts of God, we have nothing to fear. We are not alone, and we will never be alone. God’s constant presence gives us the strength and courage to handle anything life throws at us.
  • Baptism is the sacrament of identity and belonging. It is the Spirit’s powerful work of binding and reminding all these together in us and through us.
  • See next week’s edition, January 10, 2021, for more theological insight into the Sacrament of Baptism. 

Give each person a piece of paper, in the center draw a shell and write your name on it. The shell is a symbol often used for baptism. Now, draw symbols of who you are and how you are valued, cherished and loved by God and the ways you know God you belong to God. 

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

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