God is Speaking

Season After Epiphany 2018 Worship Planning Series

Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord 2018, Year B

The opening movement in our full service order can be an effective overture for this service and series. It announces the series theme (Rise up!) and introduces a recurring feature of this series, the spoken word contributions of The Rev. B. Kevin Smalls.

Rise Up! God is Speaking! (Epiphany)


Begin in darkness and silence, or with a low and discordant ambient sound loop or choral/ensemble humming or ahhs. No percussion or rhythmic accompaniment of any kind. The feeling should be of floating and uncertainty.

A singer enters from behind the congregation holding a single candle and begins to process toward the Paschal candle and font, front and center. Solo, quietly at first, the singer, alone begins:

Arise, shine for your light has come »
God Is Speaking (Child Solo —see music notes), W&S 3025

Singing more boldly the second time, the singer then turns to the congregation and gestures all to rise. The third time, a whole choir joins, processing to follow the singer to the stage. After the choir sings, all join and keep repeating until the choir is all in place near the front. Then all lights on.

Percussion begins to accompany Spoken Word (B. Kevin Smalls)

AH = The Africana Hymnal

BOW = United Methodist Book of Worship

CCLI = Christian Copyright Licensing International, SongSelect

TFWS = The Faith We Sing (2000)

UMH = United Methodist Hymnal

W&S = Worship & Song (2011)

Seemingly, the darkness has been so thick
not quick to trust anything resembling light
Might be a trick...and tricks don't always
lead to a treat, so I retreat in the darkness
hoping, slightly, ever so lightly that
my deepest fears will submit to the changing
of dark gears leading to light years of praise
and adoration.

Then, the light is not found, seemingly,
in the measure of the day but the Way
the voice appeared...it was the light
and life to all people and there was
no equal to its clear and present
demand. I can, I believed. I can rise
right along with the sun.

Darkness is for lying down, laying down, hanging
around, pretending to be asleep. All the
while the light slowly creeps between the
cracks in the blinds...which are unsuccessful
in stopping the invitation...to liberation...

arise, shine, the light has come...
arise, shine the light has come…


The Word of God Isaiah 60:1, 2, 4; Mark 1:4-5, 9-11
Translation by Taylor Burton-Edwards

Reader 1 Rise up, shine, O shine out, Jerusalem!
Your light has come!
The glory of the Lord has risen upon you!

Reader 2 Behold, I will send my messenger where you will all see her,
and my road builder, and he will prepare the way.
She will cry out in the desert, her voice resounding in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord. Make every byway a highway!”

Reader 1 Yes, darkness and gloom will form a veil over the earth and all nations,
but over you, wherever you are, the Lord shall appear,
and God’s glory shall be seen upon you.

Reader 2 John appeared, baptizing in the desert, and proclaiming
a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And people from all of Judea and every neighborhood of Jerusalem
were going out to him,
and they were baptized by him in the Jordan,
calling their sins out loud as they were plunged beneath the river.

Reader 1 Lift up your eyes, look all around you, and see!
All your descendants are gathered together again:
your sons from far away,
your daughters upon their nurses’ arms.

Reader 2 And in those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And as soon as he rose up from the water,
he lifted up his eyes and looked around.
The sky was split, and the Spirit alighted upon him like a dove.

Readers: And there was a voice from the sky:

All: You are my beloved child.
I am delighted in you!

Reader 1 God was speaking in those days, through prophets, preachers,
and voices from the sky. Glory!

Reader 2 God is still speaking today, through Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Readers: And so in these days, we will not fail to rise up, and shine, and say:

All: I am a child of God.

Song: Child of God
Score: https://www.choristersguild.org/store/cga1425-child-of-god/5677/

Sermon God Is Speaking


Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant


All standing in body and/or spirit.

Sisters and brothers in Christ:
through the sacrament of baptism
God's Spirit has been poured out upon water,
water poured over and immersing us,
water that flows freely for all who will receive it,
water from the streams of God's saving power and justice,
water that brings hope to all who thirst for righteousness,
water that refreshes life, nurtures growth, and offers new birth.

Today we come to the waters,
to renew our commitments
in each other's presence
to Christ who has raised us,
the Spirit who has birthed us,
and the Creator who is making all things new.

Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

And so I ask you, will you turn away from the powers of sin and death?
We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world,
and repent of our sin.

Will you let the Spirit use you as prophets to the powers that be?
We accept the freedom and power God gives us
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves.

Will you proclaim the good news and live as disciples of Jesus Christ,
members of his body on earth?
We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior,
put our whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as our Lord,
in union with the church which Christ has opened
to people of all ages, nations, and races.

Will you be living witnesses to the gospel, individually and together, wherever you are, and in all that you do?
We will remain faithful members of Christ's holy church
and serve as Christ's representatives in the world.

Will you receive and profess the Christian faith as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments?
We affirm and teach the faith of the whole church
as we put our trust
in God, the Father Almighty,
in Jesus Christ, his only Son,
and in the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.

Thanksgiving Over the Water
The Spirit of the Lord is with us.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Let us pray.
Almighty God, the life you birthed in us
by baptism into Jesus Christ
will never die.
Your justice never fails.
Your mercy is everlasting.

Your healing river flows.
Your Spirit blows where you will.
We cannot stop you, God!

But sometimes we try.

We try to block the flow,
or redirect the winds of the Spirit,
We lose hope, or take hope away from others.
We let the world tell us who we are,
or even let the church limit what you would make of us.
We walk so far away from the life-giving Stream
that we do not hear its sound,
and we forget your power.

We parch ourselves.

We are dry and thirsty, O God.
Come, refresh us!

Speak to us once more your great good news of life,
and pour into us afresh your love, stronger than death,
until we can all rise, and each in our own voice proclaim,
I am a child of God.

The pastor offers gestures of calling the Holy Spirit to come upon the people and the water.
The people offer the same gestures as they respond.

Even so, come upon us, Holy Spirit!
Come upon us, Holy Spirit!

Come upon these waters.
Come upon these waters.

Let these waters be to us drops of your mercy.
Let these waters remind us of your righteousness and justice.

Let these waters renew in us the resurrection power of Jesus.
Let these waters fill us with hope for your now and coming reign.

Most Holy God, Abba, Father!
Glory to you!

Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord!
Glory to you!

Spirit of fire, Spirit over the waters, Spirit of holiness!
Glory to you!

Eternal God, One in Three and Three in One!
All glory is yours, now and forever. Amen!

All who are baptized and have renewed their vows are invited to come to the font to use the water as a sign of refreshing. Gifts for the offering may also be placed near the font at this time.

As each uses the water, another says to her or him:

Remember that you are baptized, and rejoice!
I am a child of God. Thanks be to God!

Music during Reaffirmation and Offering

Water Flowing Free Africana Hymnal 4043
Take Me to the Water Africana Hymnal 4045 OR W&S 3165
Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine UMH 606


Reader 1: So you shall see, and stand in awe… at the salvation of the Lord.

Reader 2: And immediately, the Spirit drove Jesus out into the barren places:

On this day our God has acted.
Rise up! Head out to the barren places!
Look around and see the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ
shining in your hearts
for all the world to see. Amen.

Song of Sending
Walking in the Light of God W&S 3163

In This Series...

Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes Second Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Third Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Transfiguration of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes

In This Series...

Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes Second Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Third Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Planning Notes Transfiguration of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes