Baptism of the Lord (Year C)

Call to Worship

When we pass through the water, God is with us. Isa. 43:2
Baptism is a gift to be celebrated and shared!
Though the rivers rise, though the seas roar, we shall not be overwhelmed.
Baptism is God’s act of snatching us from the jaws of death.
All are God’s beloved; in us God finds happiness. Luke 3:22
Baptism seals us in God’s love and sends us forward.
Come, let us remember our baptisms and worship God!

Prayer of the Day

Bring us to the waters, God of our Baptism.
Hold us as your children and claim us as your own.
Guide us in our worship of you this day
that we may feel the freedom that baptism gives us
as well as the responsibility it places upon us
to live as disciples of the Risen Christ.  Amen.

Call to Confession

Come to the waters, friends,
and let us be cleansed of the sin
that keeps us from serving God.

Confession

Good and Gracious God,
bring us to the waters to cleanse us from that which weighs us down;
those things we carry that separate us from one another and from you.
Forgive us, we pray, for the burdens we have placed upon ourselves and others:
burdens of injustice, burdens of selfishness, burdens of closed-mindedness.
Through the waters of our baptism,
renew us and send us forth that we may live to serve you fully.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, without water, there can be no life.
But God does not leave us parched.  God protects and preserves us.
Through the waters of our baptism,
I announce to you that our sins are forgiven!  
Alleluia!  Amen.

Prayer for Illumination

God of Creation,
bring us your wisdom this day
that we might hear your word proclaimed
and leave this place to proclaim it ourselves.  Amen.

Prayers of the People

Let us pray to God, saying:
God of Baptism, lead us through the water.

Good and Gracious God,
there are many different kinds of waters, both calm and stormy.
We give you thanks that our baptisms remind us
that you go with us no matter the weather, 
no matter the waters of our lives.
God of Baptism, lead us through the water.

Sometimes the waters are calm and invigorating,
times when we are led by still waters.
We give you thanks for moments of our life that have had smooth sailing:
for moments that have brought us joy and laughter,
for moments when we’ve worked hard and seen results,
for moments when families have been united in fellowship,
for moments when we get to celebrate with friends
and escape, for a little while, from the chaos of this world.
God of Baptism, lead us through the water.

Sometimes the waters are scary and dangerous,
times when we are led through storms.
We pray that you would be with those of us who are navigating difficult waters:
for those who have recently lost loved ones,
for those who are unemployed due to the government shutdown,
for those who feel they are not loved or welcomed,
for those who struggle with depression and other illnesses.
God of Baptism, lead us through the water.  

We pray this day for those on our hearts,
either out loud or silently…
God of Baptism, lead us through the water.

Hear us, Gracious God, as we pray as your Child taught us to pray, saying:  Our Father…

Comment

Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.