Order of Worship
First Sunday after Epiphany/Baptism of Christ
January 10, 2021

Organ Prelude
Call to Worship 
We have come once again to be in the presence of the baptismal waters, so that we may be reminded that God’s love seeps into our lives, washes away our fears, and pours forth for all people.
Come, let us worship.

Opening Prayer
God, we ask that you remind us that you are the source of all that gives us life:
water, earth, warmth, wind.
We take these next moments to be still and breathe in your spirit.

As you quiet your heart, notice the depth and length of your breath. Inhale and exhale. As you inhale concentrate on the notion of breathing in grace the way we breathe in oxygen. As you exhale imagine that you can let go of the one thing that you wish to give to God. Set the pace of your breath and set an intention that you can start to offer yourself, your life, to God a little at a time, with every exhale.
Amen.

Storytelling             “A Letter to John the Baptizer”
Sharing of Scripture                                 Mark 1:4-11
Message in Music
Message      A Dialogue on Baptism     Rev. Laura McLeod & Rev. Max Ramsey
Prayer of Dedication
God who moves in, around and through the waters,
we remember you are near and dedicate a gift of gratitude to you, for your use.
We have worked to collect and recollect abundance.
We have toiled and felt the weight of futility.
But we come now in earnest hope and faith to offer what we have,
do what we can,
and let go of the outcome. Amen.

A Time of Prayer
Preparation for Prayer
Silent Prayer
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
God speaks as we speak to one another of our joy and sorrow.
God moves as we draw closer to one another.
May we speak aloud of love and pain, offering up the names or circumstances that remind us we belong to one another and God.
Allow silence so that the gathered community may fill it with their prayers.
May we remember that we can give and receive,
bless and be blessed as we come near the cleansing waters,
kiss away tears and drink from the fountains of grace. Amen.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray saying, Our Father…Amen.

Bless
            One:   And now we share in a common practice of blessing one another. Please join in as the words of the blessing become familiar. We will repeat it two times.
All:      We may fail; God does not.
            We may end; God does not.
            Bless and be blessed. Amen.

Organ Postlude

Sharing of Scripture                                 Mark 1:4-11
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

A Letter to John the Baptizer
Based on Mark 1:4–11

Dear John,
I am writing with the utmost appreciation for your work and admiration for your courageous work. There is no doubt in our minds that you are a gift to us because of your great leadership and spiritual wisdom.
This is precisely why we need your help to settle an argument in my household.
You see, we had been living peacefully enough – if a bit disconnected from the more faithful of our friends and family members. When we began to hear stories about Jesus’ teaching and authority, we became curious. One day we heard he was going to visit the Jordan to see you. We had heard about you from friends who had been baptized by you so we thought we could renew our friendships and perhaps bolster our faith if we were to visit you when Jesus was also visiting. So, we decided to try to match the dates of our visit with the time we heard he would be visiting you.
On our way, we began to reflect on how much we hoped you would be the prophet who would help us understand the prophecies that cause us so many arguments in our home. When we arrived, we were caught off guard by the chaos of the crowd. People were agitated when we thought they would be calm. You had people worked up!
When we finally caught sight of Jesus, you two were arguing like old Rabbis. I must admit that brought me a little comfort. I’ve seen Sadducees and Pharisees argue – they don’t have any passion in their voices. Your conversation with Jesus was different. You were both energetic. My wife and I laughed to see you two argue the way we argue!
It surprised us then that when you stopped arguing, you baptized him. I would have thought you two would never reconcile as I watched you in conflict with one another. But you made amends as quickly and as passionately as you started in to argue.
As you baptized him, I noticed he behaved as one of us; he was humble and at peace – as if he were subordinate to you. As we watched him come out of the water, we saw a dove descend. But it was after this that we became especially confused. I heard a voice. I know I heard a voice say, “My beloved,” “I am pleased.” but I couldn’t tell who had spoken. My wife tells me she heard a voice, too. Until we talked it over, we thought it was coming from one of the crowd, which would have been strange enough… but then we decided it was not one of the elders nearby.
We have been arguing about this one question.
Could it have been the voice of God?
Did you hear it?
Is Jesus the one we heard about in the prophecies?
My wife and I are now arguing like the Rabbis… please help restore peace to our home the way you restored the peace with Jesus,

Benjamin

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