Jesus makes us one new humanity through baptism and this is who we are.Purpose
To reintroduce some of the promises made in the Affirmation of Baptism and Infant Baptism liturgies.Supplies Needed
Index cards, writing utensils, table, small bowl, candle, Bible, free-standing cross, water, copies of Luther's Small Catechism
, five large pieces of paper, markers, two five-gallon buckets for every 5 people or 4 empty gallon milk jugs for every 5 people, hose, water spigot.
Leader (L): Welcome! We want to get started with an exercise to get to know each other better. We are passing out index cards and writing utensils right now. Everyone should take one of each. On your card, you have five minutes to write your autobiography. Tell us about what makes you unique and the gifts God has given you. The catch is that it has to be short enough to be a single Tweet. You only have 140 characters including spaces. When you are finished, put your cards and writing utensils on the ground. We will then go around the circle and share what we have written.
Once you have shared your autobiographies, move on to the next section. Keep your cards and writing utensils for highs and lows.
Encourage and PrayerL: The Lord be with you.
Group (G.): And also with you.
L: Share the peace of Christ with one another.
Once everyone has passed the peace, ask everyone to sit in a circle with their index cards and writing utensils.
L: Let's take some time to touch base with each other. We will go around the circle and share one high from the past week and one low from this past week. Before we start, take a second and write your high and low on your index card.
When everyone is ready, go around the circle allowing everyone an opportunity to share.
L: As citizens of a faith community, we lift each other up in prayer. We bring the joys and concerns of our brothers and sisters in Christ to God. We are going to practice supporting each other in prayer right now. Take a second to write your name on your index card. Now bunch up the card in your hand and throw it into the center of the room.
Now you can take a card from the pile we have on the floor. Make sure you do not have your own card. I will open with prayer. Then, when I say “We pray for…”, we will start with the person to my right and go around the circle. Each of us will pray for the person whose card we have using the high and low written on the card. When we are done, I will close the prayer.
L: Merciful God, thank you that we can come to you with our hearts' desires and joys. Hear us now as we lift up to you what is on the hearts of our sisters and brothers in Christ this week. We pray for:
After everyone is finished around the circle, close the prayer.
L: We bring all these things to you, Lord, believing in your faithfulness and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Place a table in the center of the room. On that table, place a small bowl, a candle, a Bible, and a cross. The candle should be next to the Bible.L: When the community reaffirms their baptism together, they promise to be disciples or followers of Jesus. To follow someone can mean to walk in his or her footsteps. We put these promises as a path on our floor to signify how we understand we should walk in Jesus' footsteps.
L: Please gather around the table. (When everyone is in place, continue.) I welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ. (Light the candle.) We gather around the word of God that lights our way. (Add water to the bowl.) In the water of baptism, Jesus makes us all one people. (Lift the cross as you say the next sentence.) Jesus makes people from different nations, different cultures, and different ways of life into citizens and saints through his death on the cross.
You may sing a song here. “Sanctuary” or “Jesus, Remember Me” would be appropriate.
Another leader reads Ephesians 2:14-20.
Pass out copies of Affirmation by the Assembly as found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 237. Have volunteers ready with pre-cut foot shapes that have the baptismal promises written on them. These volunteers should also have electrical tape or painter's tape to adhere the foot shapes to the floor.
Starting with the Prayer at the end of page 237 of “Evangelical Lutheran Worship,” finish the worship section by following the liturgy for Affirmation by the Assembly.
Instruct everyone to return to their places in the circle, putting their cards in the recycling bin and giving their writing utensils to you. Have them keep the Affirmation by the Assembly pages.
L: We're talking about baptism today. What do you think baptism is or what does baptism do for us?
Once you have some answers, pass out copies of Luther's Small Catechism — specifically the section on baptism.
L: Luther wrote the Small Catechism so that Christian families could learn some simple answers to basic questions about faith. Often, Luther would bring up a topic or a line of an important prayer or creed and repeat his son's question: “What is this?” In other words, what does this mean? Let's find the section that Luther writes about baptism. What does Luther say baptism is and what does it do?
Let the participants find the answer. It might take the answers of a few people to get through all of Luther's content.
L: What do you think Luther means when he says that baptism is water plus God's command plus God's word?
The Scripture passage that Luther quotes as “that word of God” is Matthew 28:19-20. Could someone find it and read it to us? What are the three things that Jesus commanded the disciples to do in this passage? Why are those three things all important to do? Why not just bless some water in a Super Soaker, spray a bunch of people, and call it baptism?
Luther says that in baptism our sins are forgiven and we are delivered from death and the devil. Are those gifts you associate with baptism? Why or why not? How are these gifts reflected in the Ephesians 2 text that we heard again today?
In the Affirmation by the Assembly liturgy that we followed earlier, there were promises that we made. Some of those promises are written on the footsteps that we taped to the floor. What were those promises? You can read them off the feet or off the liturgy.
These promises are how we ELCA Lutherans answer the question: “How do we live as followers of Jesus?” Are there any that you particularly connect with right now? Are there any that you are not doing particularly well with right now? What makes them difficult?
We're going to put five pieces of paper up on the walls. There are markers here. Grab a marker and write on the paper where you see each of the promises we're focusing on in how you live your life, or how others live their lives.
When everyone is done, move on to the final question.
L: Would anyone like to share what they put up there?
After sharing is done, transition into the Give section.
GiveL: Luther basically says that baptism is a gift from God to us. God does everything. Nothing we do matters in terms of baptism.
God gives us another set of gifts within our baptism. God gives us spiritual gifts so that we are able to follow Jesus in the way God created us to follow Jesus.
Let's think about gifts for a minute. What does it feel like to receive a gift? What does it feel like to give a gift? Have you ever been given a gift that was re-gifted? By that I mean, someone gave you a present that someone had given them. For example, your dad might have gotten a football calendar when what he actually likes is golf. He re-wraps the calendar and gives it to his brother for Christmas. Has that ever happened to you? How do you feel about receiving a re-gift?
God's spiritual gifts to us are meant to be re-gifted. God looks at the gifts God gives us as blessings by which we are going to bless others. This is a continual part of the covenant God makes with Abraham and Abraham's descendants starting with Genesis 12:2. Could someone look that up and read it for us?
God gives us spiritual gifts and material gifts with which God means for us to bless others. This re-gifting comes out of our gratefulness that God gives God's people good gifts. It is with our gifts that we are able to serve.
L: Our service to our neighbors can help us remember our baptism. In fact, ELCA World Hunger is focusing on something we must have in order to do a baptism: water. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, one in six people doesn't have access to safe water. Comparatively, that is slightly less than the populations of North and South America combined.
The following is a relay activity that will give the participants some sense of the distance that many people in the Global South must travel to obtain clean water. Divide group into equal teams of five to six people. Fill one of the containers (or two if you are using the gallon jugs) to the brim with water.
L: In the United States, water is often easily accessible by just turning on the tap. However, one in six people in the world has limited access to clean water. In some places, like Africa, people (usually women) must walk an average of 3.7 miles every day to get their daily household water needs. They spend hours in water collection that could be spent on growing food, going to school, and taking care of their families. They often bring the water home in five-gallon jugs (five gallons of water weighs about 40 pounds).
Now it's time for you to get an idea of what that experience might be like. Each member of each team must carry your container(s) of water to and from the designated point. Once the first member of the team returns with the container(s) they will pour the water into the empty container(s) and sit down at the back of the line. The next team member will take the container(s) with the water and make the same journey. The activity is done once every participant has completed the relay and taken a seat. The goal is to have each member of the team complete the distance with the most water left in their containers. In the event of a tie, the team that finishes the fastest wins. Keep in mind that there is no use running the whole distance if you come back with an empty bucket!
Ready. Set. Go!
After the activity, ask the following reflection questions:
- Was the activity what you expected? Was it easier or harder than you expected? Why?
- Imagine walking 3.7 miles on a daily basis. Do you think you could do it? Could you do it carrying five-gallon water jugs? How would you feel about it?
- What in your day would you have to sacrifice in order to do this necessary task?
As you wrap up the service section, ask everyone to grab a marker as you move into the Sending section.
SendingL: Take your marker and sign one of the footprints as a symbol of your own reaffirmation of faith. Now quickly find someone with whom you have not been partnered and partner up with him or her. Make the sign of the cross on your partner's forehead as I say these words: Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. Amen.
L: Citizens with the saints, children of God, go love like Jesus in the world.
G: Thanks be to God!