LITURGY

Baptism of the Lord

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WORD OF GOD
While Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer,
heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him.
(Luke 3:21)

WORD FOR TODAY
Our baptism is something we have to say “yes” to each day. It is the challenge to look at the world with eyes that see beyond the obvious and to respond to God’s invitation to live according to the values of his kingdom.

WORDS FOR WORSHIP
Let us pray for those families that are preparing for baptism, that the strength of faith in their homes may support and encourage the newly baptised. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for those who have not known Christ, but who are now preparing to be baptised or received into the Church this coming Easter. May they come ever closer to the love of God and may they find in their parishes true communities of faith.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for ourselves, that we may renew each day our baptismal promises to proclaim the Good News by our lives of service to God and each other.
Lord, in your mercy:
Hear our prayer.
Let us pray for the Christian Church that joined by our common baptism we may draw ever closer to the unity for which Jesus prayed.
Lord, in you mercy:
Hear our prayer.

FAITH IN FOCUS: FROM THIS DAY FORWARD
Baptisms are rather like marriages. Not only are they family and community affairs that are accompanied by festivity, but they also work at a deeper level.
When two people marry, the words of the ceremony make it clear that they are embarking on something that will last a lifetime. In sickness and in health means that you cannot simply say that you are married and then do nothing about it. You have to work at a marriage, especially when unforeseen problems arise. That’s why people say that a wedding takes only a day, but a marriage takes for ever.
In the same way, our baptism is not something that is over in a day. The ceremony may only take half an hour, but our baptism is something that stays with us for a lifetime. Even though we sometimes speak about “having the baby done”, baptism is not a static thing, something over and done with, but it’s a dynamic reality. We carry our baptism with us even when we don’t feel it!
It’s a sad fact that if people do not work at their marriage, then the marriage can go stale. And the same is true with our baptism. If we’re not careful we can wake up one morning and find that our baptism has gone dead because we have not been giving it the care and attention it needs. Baptisms need plenty of fresh air and exercise!
Baptism means believing that only God’s life can bring us true happiness. It means living by the beliefs and promises that we made years ago (or agreed to later, if we were baptised as babies). We were anointed with oil to become members of God’s family that is the Church, committed to telling others about the sort of God we have and the sort of promises held out to those who serve God.
At the start of this new year, it might be worth taking a look at what new Christians promise at their baptism (or what their godparents promise on their behalf). Ask at church for a copy; see what you agreed to; decide where you need to improve! Has your baptism put on so much weight because you have never exercised it? How do you proclaim your faith at home and at work? Does your life teem with that deep down joy that God promises to those who have been reborn with water and the Spirit? The feast of the Lord’s Baptism tempts you to ask a few questions....
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