From the Pastor:     “A Sacrament of Love”  


January 8, 2023

Baptism of the Lord


Processional                                                         “Glory to God Forever/To God Be the Glory”


Invocation: Good morning and welcome!

Lord of Hope and Light, in the midst of Darkness you offered light to people who lived in fear. Today that light comes to us as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Open our hearts this day and remind us that you have marked us as people of hope and light. Prepare us to serve you by serving your world. AMEN.


Call to Worship

L: In the very beginning, God separated the darkness and the light. God called the Light “Day” and the Darkness, God called “Night”.
P: We were once people who dwelled in darkness, but God has given us the true Light, Jesus Christ.
L: God has blessed us and adopted us as God’s own beloved children, through the sacrament of Baptism.
P: The water of baptism brings to us healing and reconciliation; it is a symbol of nourishment and cleansing.
L: This day is the day of the remembrance of Jesus’ Baptism.
P: As we hear the words of his baptism, let us be reminded of our own adoption by God and celebrate the joyous connection to the Almighty God.


Words of Welcome and Parish News:


*Gathering Hymn                 “Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters”                  605 UMH 


Silent meditation and prayer:


Prayer Focus: Grace


The Lord’s Prayer

 Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


Scripture Readings:


Isaiah 42:1-9

42Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. 5Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. 9See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.


Matthew 3:13-17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”


Choir Anthem                                                                                               Come to the Water


The Message                           “A Sacrament of Love”                         Rev. Marshall Murphy Jr.

The United Methodist Church affirms that the Sacrament of Baptism, “… is a sign of regeneration or new birth.” This Sacrament is a doorway to our personal reconciliation to God as a covenant. Baptism is an invitation to the children of God of any age. John Wesley says we must have new birth as evident in John 3 in the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. This Sacrament is another way that God’s love comes forth with the presence of grace. This is understood as prevenient grace, grace that proceeds before us from God.

  • The United Methodist Church believes in several points about baptism:
  • It is one of our Sacraments
  • It is a sign of grace.
  • It is an outward sign of the inward and spiritual grace of God’s work of love in an individual’s life before she or he is able to understand it or choose to accept it. This is call prevenient grace. This is why infant baptism is done.
  • Baptism is practiced by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.


Let’s look at this grace from God. Baptism is one of our Sacraments. But what does all this mean to you? First, we should remember when you have a conversation with another denomination or nondenominational church, they may have a different understanding of baptism.

Beginning this New Year can be rough for some. There has to be some motivation for you to go after God. John was baptizing people with the emphasis on repentance. But Jesus engaged in baptism for his relationship with God in the flesh. Imagine this moment, Jesus praying to God and the Holy Spirit descended upon him.

This year we must take every opportunity to get closer, nearer, reach out and celebrate God. You have to find a pathway that is your personal way of grabbing hold of your relationship with God. Some read devotions or read the Bible, or journal about their experiences with God. There are many ways to engage with seeking God with people through Bible study or Adult Sunday School. Some people listen to gospel music or the hymns because the words have guidance and direction that speak to you and communicate with God. Can you feel and see God working on your inside to guide you and lift you up? I often pray for so many who are going through challenges right now who struggle with praying and struggle with their relationship with God. For many there is a feeling that grace never stops by and spends some time when the rough stuff comes into their lives. Remember Jesus was praying during the baptism event!!! God loves you and wants a relationship with you.

.   Gayle Carlton Felton in her book By Water and the Spirit makes a bold statement: “…infant baptism shows how God works in the lives of His children for salvation. Our teaching on baptism is referenced by Gayle Carlton Felton in By Water and the Spirit. One of the most pertinent points states: “Understanding the practice as an authentic expression of how God works in our lives, The United Methodist Church strongly advocates the baptism of infants within the faith community: “Because the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, extends to all persons and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in Baptism at an early age” (Book of Discipline, par. 221)”


Offertory Invitation: God of the water that cleans us, the land that feeds us, and the air that allows us to breathe your Spirit in and out of us; you claim us in our baptism. As we present our tithes and offering in worship and witness Christ’s baptism once again, may we remember that in that water we were, like Christ, commissioned to go: to teach, preach, heal, and even to take up a cross. In Christ, we pray. Amen.


Offertory Music                                                               Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart


*Doxology:                                                                                                                     UMH 95


*Unison Prayer of Dedication: We give as those who are dependent on your grace, and we pray that our gifts will help others know the cleansing power of grace as well. In the name of Christ who died for us, we pray. Amen.


The Baptismal Covenant IV                                                                                          UMH 50

Congregational Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant


*Closing Hymn:                                       Spirit Song                                                    UMH 347


Sending Forth Greet yourself as God’s beloved. Greet one another as God’s beloved. Greet all you encounter as God’s beloved. In that greeting, we will be and we will become the Body of Christ. In that greeting, we will behold the image of God, ever among us and around.                        Martha Brunell, The Abingdon Women’s Preaching AnnualSeries 2, Year A 


Recessional                                                                                      “This is My Father’s World” (Please remain seated to meditate and reflect on the music)


Print your tickets