Seeking Higher Ground: A Service for the Baptism of Christ

By Rev. Rosemary McCombs Maxey

Call to Worship: Psalm 29

The leader(One) should speak the lines of the people, along with the leader's lines

One: Give to our God, O heavenly beings,

Give to our God glory and strength.

People: Give to our God a glorious name;

worship our God in holy splendor.

One: The voice of our God is over the waters, the God of glory thunders,

the Lord, over mighty waters.

People: The voice of our God is powerful;

the voice of our God is full of majesty.

One: The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

Our God breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

People: God makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Sirion like a young wild ox.

One: The voice of our God flashes forth flames of fire.

People: The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

Our God shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

One: The voice of our God causes the oaks to whirl and strips the forest bare;

and in God's temple all say, "Glory!"

People: The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

Our God sits enthroned as ruler forever.

One: May our God give strength to the people!

May the Lord bless the people with peace!


Creating, Calling, and Faithful God,

we come to this time and place to be with you,

to worship you and to learn from you.

May our time together

be like your creation of light in the darkness

that you called good.

May it be that you would call us good

while we respond to your call and as we listen to you. Amen.

Call to Confession:

People of God, we desire to be refreshed, renewed, and changed.

Let us listen again to God's calling our names

to encourage us and strengthen our resolve

to be God's people in faithfulness and peace-loving justice.

Prayer of Confession:

O God, we hear your voice

and we see the way of Jesus set before us.

But it's hard, dear God, to try again and again

to live up to our baptismal vows

and maintain our resolve to be your people in the world.

In repentance, we ask you to forgive us.

Set us once again on a holy path that leads to you. Amen.

Assurance of God's Call:

Friends, God hears our prayers and sets before us the way of Jesus.

God calls us and gives us enough grace and mercy to follow the way.

Thanks be to God.

Baptism and Renewal of Baptismal Vows

In-person: You may do a rite of "asperges": sprinkling the congregation with water

At home: Encourage people to come to worship with a small bowl of water to bless themselves at the appropriate time.


Our God created new life forms and brought them up from the waters of chaos,

embraced them, and called them good.

Jesus, baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist,

became living water for us and embraced all of us.

Jesus embraces those who are poor, oppressed, marginalized

and all others who come seeking.

We follow Jesus with our Baptism,

marking a starting place for new life and new ways of being.

We join Jesus in love and service.

Let us prepare our hearts and minds to see, feel, and hear the vows of Baptism again.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises (from Book of Worship)

Do you renew and affirm the promises made at your Baptism?

I do.

Do you recognize the call of God to be God's people always?

I do.

Do you embrace the way of Jesus in faith and ministry?

I do.

Do you accept the nurture of the Holy Spirit, who renews your spirit daily?

I do.

Do you accept and embrace others who seek a liberating faith in God?

I do.

In renewing your baptismal vows,

remember your Baptism as a mark of acceptance

and welcome into the care of Christ's church

where you may begin your Christian faith and life again.

A Unison Prayer:

O God, we rejoice in your grace, given and received.

We thank you that you claim us,

that you wash us, strengthen us, and guide us,

that you empower us to live a life worthy of our calling.

In the way of Jesus, make us as water in a dry and thirsty world.

Establish us to be places of refreshment.

Root us and nurture us in love,

that with all your people, we may rightly and justly serve you.

Fill us with your fullness

that our lives may overflow in service and love. Amen.

Offering and Dedication:

Faithful God,

Bless us in our baptismal calling

to be in the ministry of showing hospitality to others.

We offer the gifts that we have been given to be used

not for conquest and dominance,

but for use in liberating the poor and hurting people

who pray for our liberation as well as their own.

Receive and multiply our gifts for life-giving ministry. Amen.


Thank you, God, for blessing us with memories of Jesus' Baptism and ours.

Thank you for removing our reluctance, doubt, and fears,

for replacing them with courage and commission.

We go forth with your calling, direction, and blessing. Amen.

Rev. Rosemary McCombs, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and member of Fellowship United Church of Christ, Tulsa, is a retired clergyperson living on her family farm. She was the first female Native American to be ordained in the UCC. Rosemary teaches the Muscogee indigenous language online and in her living room to students of all ages. She enjoys raising chickens, quilting, and living "way out" in the country.

Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. This service and others like it can be found at Worship Ways Archive - United Church of Christ (


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