We are preparing the children to lead worship the Sunday after Labor Day, what might be considered Kick-off or Rally Sunday. Last year we themed the service around communion. This year we are doing Baptism. It’s a good way to teach our children about the sacraments–one of our mandates–as well as have a strong theme for the service. Last year it was a communion Sunday. We don’t have anyone to baptize that day, so we will include a remembrance of baptism liturgy.
I have a musically talented high school sophomore I recruited to help this year, but he was at choir camp this first week, so I planned to introduce scripture this week, and start working on the musical bits when he will be here.
The scriptures we are using are the 4 water stories that we Presbyterians always reference at baptisms: Creation, The Flood, The Crossing of the Red Sea, and Jesus’ Baptism. We had 12 kids from age 3 to age 11. I put them in groups of 3 with a big, middle, and little kid in each group, and gave them each a story to figure out how to act out for the rest of the group. Though the 3 littlest ones in the end didn’t want to participate in the actual presentation, they helped prepare and practice, and they were a part of the whole. It was great fun!
Our two 11 year-olds are entering 6th grade and thus middle school and youth group in our systems, but we let them have an overlap year in the children’s program if they so choose. They are both kids who work really well with the younger kids and have leadership gifts. My hope is to work with them on writing a litany and having them bless the younger kids during the service. We will remember our baptism as we go out into schools and sports and playdates and music lessons and so on and so forth. The scriptures and songs and liturgy will bring together, I hope, both the idea of baptism and carrying God’s seal into our lives: When we remember our baptism, we know we are sealed by God, God’s own forever, and God is with us and wants to be our friend.
The tune to “Morning Has Broken” (BUNESSAN) has several different sets of lyrics (“Morning Has Broken,” “Baptized in Water,” and, I discovered in my copy of the new hymnal a version of St. Patrick’s breastplate to the same tune, “Christ Be Beside Me” (it’s also in the Sing the Faith hymnal (2166) we have, but I like the version better in the Glory to God (702). We will use that as a melody through-line for the scripture readings and litany.
I don’t have everything in place, but the service will look something like this:
Procession to the Font
Opening Scripture: Great Commission “Therefore go…baptize…and lo I will be with you always…” (Matthew 28:19-20) said in unison.
Gathering Song (“Come All You People” John Bell SF 2274)
Welcome and Introductions to the service
(Maybe include the Apostles Creed because we do that on Baptism Days)
Creation (Genesis 1: 1-2)
“Morning Has Broken” v. 1
Flood (some part of Genesis 6:8-18; 7:15-17; 8:1-3a)
Parting of the Waters (some part of Exodus 14:10, 13-16, 21-22)
Jesus’ Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17)
“Baptized in Water” v. 3
Remembering our Baptism
Litany (remember your baptism when…)
“Christ Be Beside Me” v. 1,2
Give Bibles to 3rd graders (There are 4 of them. Biggest group at a grade level we’ve had for awhile. Including Wordgirl.)
Sing “Our God is a God who Makes Friends” (John Bell. I am slowly working through all the songs on the John Bell/Alison Adams Album: Sing with the World.)
Then I think I’m going to let the kids go back to their seats while we finish with offering and prayers, but I’m not sure. We could also have them finish out the service.
Just a contextual note: We have a couple kids who have, very intentionally on the parents’ part, not been baptized, so I am taking pains to talk about both infant baptism and believer’s baptism and how they are equally good and that we know we are God’s children no matter when we get baptized.