baptism

This is a bit behind, but I thought I would post about a baptismal service that we had at South Newnan a couple of weeks ago (25 June).

Without going into alot of excess detail, we knew in advance that this woman might be baptized on Sunday, so I began to look into shaping the worship service around the baptism itself. Now, as my Church of Christ readers know, our standard practice is to rush to the nearest bathtub/swimming pool/baptistery as soon as the candidate expresses the desire to be baptized. None of what I am about to relate is meant to downplay either the urgency or necessity of baptism — it is merely meant to suggest one possible (and successful, I might add) way of incorporating baptism into a worship service.

The first place I went for liturgical direction was to the section of the BCP entitled Holy Baptism and to the Lectionary readings for a baptismal service (BCP, pg. 928). I also picked up and began to read a wonderful little book sitting on my shelf for some years now called Baptism and Belonging by Keith Watkins et al. (Chalice Press, 1991). Watkins’ book is one that anyone who plans worship in a Stone-Campbell church (of any stripe) should have on their shelf. Between these two resources, what follows is the order of service that we used (fitted around the skeleton of sermon-baptism-communion):

Call to Worship……………………………Isaiah 55.1-11 (*taken from the BCP Easter Vigil)

Song………………………………………..”To God Be the Glory”

Sermon

Invitation…………………………………..”A New Creature”

Baptism

Responsive Reading…………………….Canticle 9 (BCP, pg. 86 — adapted from Is 2.2-6)

Prayer……………………………………..”Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water…” (BCP, pg. 308)

Selected Hymns and Readings……….Titus 3.3-8, etc.

Collection

Song………………………………………”Low In the Grave He Lay”

Scripture…………………………………2 Corinthians 5.17-20

Lord’s Supper

Prayer

Thoughts, comments appreciated.

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5 responses to “baptism

  1. Chris,
    This is great! Glad to see you’re putting this much thought into the liturgy. The folks you’re leaving behind will be better off for having met you; I hope they can continue in the direction you have helped with. How was the structure of the service received?
    Kevin

  2. Did you note the discussion on Scot McKnight’s blog (Jesus Creed) about baptism a couple of days ago? McKnight had an excellent piece (i thought so at least).

    thanks for sharing with us. i really am enjoying reading your thoughts.

    don’t be shy around stoned-campbell though.

    Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine
    Stoned-Campbell Disciple

  3. It went really well. The main comment made was that no one had ever seen a baptism incorporated into the service itself, always done afterward. Otherwise the comments were very positive.

    I typed up and distributed a form of worship for incorporating a baptism into the service and for appending one onto the end of a service — I included suggestions for hymns and passages of scripture to read, etc.

    Probably the most effective portion of this service, from my perspective, was placing the responsive reading immediately after the baptism. The baptizand came up out of the water, I waited a few seconds and we began the reading, as a grateful response to what had just occurred.

  4. Wow. Canticle 9 is perfect. I’m in the process along with Greeson of thinking through ways of organizing a weekly liturgy for Sunday A.M. services. I’ll have to keep this in mind for baptismal services. I also think that we Evangelicals ought to be incorporating some sort of a “minor exorcism” into our baptismal rites, as the Catholics do.
    Kevin

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