Another stand-alone service, this one is designed to give a sense of solidarity with Jesus by joining him in the experience and confession of baptism. Though John’s baptism was one of repentance from sin, Jesus submitted to the ritual as a way of standing with us, claiming there was no limit to God’s overwhelming love. It would be a most appropriate celebration of this event by sharing corporately in an act of remembrance of baptism for the whole congregation.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth.
The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.
(from “The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church,” Article XVII, p. 69, The United Methodist Book of Discipline, 2016)
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
Liturgical Color: White / Gold
Five Universal Symbols: Cross, Oil, Water, Baptismal Font, Scallop Shell (symbol of birth, resurrection)
The Baptismal/Covenant Renewal Service
Call to Worship
Leader: We gather to worship the Living Water!
People: Spring up, Oh Well, within our souls.
Leader: In our dry and arid places, Water of Baptism, refresh us.
People: Stir up inside of us, renew us Living Water.
Leader: The baptism of the Ethiopian official of Candace, sovereign queen of Ethiopia, remind us of our connection to both the first church and the eternal Well that never runs dry.
People: [Burst forth] within us, overflow, saturate the stagnant areas of our lives, reconnect us to
[you, our true Source].
Leader: Let us remember our baptism and be thankful!
People: Take us to the waters! Let us renew our baptismal vows. Amen.
Call to Confession
How often we forget or neglect our covenant and baptismal vows. Teach us to live like those who have accepted the obligation, the responsibilities of baptized believers.
Covenant God, you made us your people and gave your Son as a pledge of your love. It was by his blood that we were baptized into relationship with you. Yet, we make trivial both his blood and the water, which symbolizes our entry into the church. Forgive us our sins. Restore us to harmony with you, we pray.
Words of Assurance
Truly, God shows no partiality, but, in every nation, anyone who will give God reverence, and do no harm, is acceptable. Thanks be to God!
Responsive Reading – Isaiah 42:1-8
Leader: Jesus was the Suffering Servant, chosen by God, born of Mary, and baptized by John.
People: The Holy Spirit rested upon him and God [spoke] from the heavens, for baptism is a family affair.
Leader: Through the baptism, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, justice has been seen by every nation.
People: He never resorted to violence but worked faithfully to model and teach justice and equality.
Leader: His Spirit is alive in us today. We cannot grow faint; we will not be crushed. God’s reign will be established throughout the earth.
People: The Lord of Host, Creator of Heaven and Earth, has called us to right living, taken us by our feeble hands, given strength to our knees, and kept us to this day.
Leader: You are a covenant, a light, the vision to prisoners, yet enslaved.
People: Steadfast is our God. We offer God praise and glory, for the promises of God are faithful and true.
Unison: The Lord strengthens us and blesses us with shalom!
The covenant was initiated by God of all. Whatever we give is a gift we have already received. Give from a grateful heart.
The voice of the Lord thunders over the waters; the God of glory thunders. We worship God in Holy Splendor with our giving.
Leader: Once again we have been refreshed by the waters of baptism.
People: Let it be so now; for it is proper for us, in this way, to fulfill all righteousness.
Leader: The heavens are opened to you, the Holy Spirit is available to you, and God affirms, “You are my beloved, well-pleasing in my sight!”
People: May it always be so! Amen.
This service is taken from Trumpet in Zion: Black Church Worship Resources (Abingdon) by the late Rev. Dr. Linda Hollies, who was a prolific author, motivational speaker, and champion of issues around social justice for women. She had served as senior pastor in several United Methodist Churches in the Michigan area at the time of her death (2007).
Dr. Hollies wrote twenty-nine books, many designed to be inspirational to women including Those Bodacious Women: Life Lessons from One Sister to Another (Pilgrim Press). Transcribed by Rev. Dr. Cynthia A. Wilson (2019).
 Lyndell Leatherman, arr. “Spring up Oh Well, Unknown” (Kansas City, MO: Lillenas Publishing, 1982), 92.