This week’s theme: Baptism of Jesus
– a new ritual for a new era
This week’s Scripture readings:
Isaiah 43:1-7 – God creates us and calls us by name
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 – the baptism of Jesus by John
This week’s music:
“I am the Light of the World” (VU #87)
I am the light of the world! You people come and follow me!” If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery of what you were meant to do and be.
When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and the shepherds have found their way home, the work of Christmas is begun…
To find the lost and lonely one, to heal the broken soul with love, to feed the hungry children with warmth and good food, to feel the earth below, the sky above!…
To free the prisoner from all chains, to make the powerful care, to rebuild the nations with strength of good will, to see God’s children everywhere!…
To bring hope to every task you do, to dance at a baby’s new birth, to make music in an old person’s heart, and sing to the colours of the earth!…”
Jim Strathdee is an American composer and performer of religious music. The text of this song is based on a Christmas poem by Howard Thurman, a prolific 20th-century writer, theologian, and teacher. The song grew out of Strathdee’s music ministry at an intercultural, bilingual congregation in Los Angeles. It was written in 1967.
“Water Has Held Us”
“Water has held us, moved by creation.
Out of dark chaos, broke forth the light.
Up from the deluge, showing God’s promise,
Has come a rainbow, gladdening sight.
Water has saved us, as the sea parted
For Israel’s children, walled on each side.
This love has led us, helped us in trouble,
On far horizon, God’s cloud our guide.
Water has cleansed us, bathed with forgiveness,
Has, with clear blessing, washed sin away.
Jordan’s strong currents God’s Son announcing,
Made a beginning, baptismal day.
Water has touched us, fresh on our foreheads,
Showing an inward, spiritual grace.
Into God’s family we have been welcomed.
As sons and daughters, we take our place.”
This hymn recounting the significance of water in the biblical narrative has text by R. Deane Postelthwaite (1978). The melody, BUNESSAN, is more commonly known as the tune for “Morning Has Broken.”
Hear the tune played on harp at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnuZGsSVg2c
“Here at Jordan’s River”
“Here at Jordan’s river all is washed away.
As God’s reign draws nearer, nothing is the same.
Gone are class and status; gone, degrees and fame.
Grace alone can save us on God’s judgment day.
We at Jordan’s river meet on level ground.
Valleys are uplifted; mountains fall to earth.
None dare trust their lineage, none need doubt their worth.
Still the prophet asks us, “Will you turn around?”
God, reform, renew us; turn us toward your will.
Till our hearts for learning; root us in your work.
May the fruits of action grow from all we’ve heard.
As we lose our old lives, God, be with us still.”
The words for this hymn are by Ruth C. Duck (1995). Through her words, Ruth has connected Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River to a call expressing our own longing to turn toward God. The lyrics are set to the 15th century French carol, NOEL NOUVELET.
Hear the melody played on harp at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKWjgcyjIk4
“He knows My Name”
“I have a Maker, He formed my heart.
Before even time began, my life was in His hand.
He knows my name, He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.
I have a Father, He calls me His own.
He’ll never leave me, no matter where I go.”
This week’s anthem has words and music by Tommy Walker (1996). The words express a confidence and faith in a God who knows us and is always walking with us.
Hear the Maranatha Singers at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXsiWoyjw60
“I Have Called You by Your Name” (MV #161)
This hymn has been described as a hymn for ordination, commitment, and commissioning by Daniel Charles Damon (1995). This hymn is written from God’s perspective, saying “I have called you by your name, you are mine” and goes on to speak of God’s hope for us. It commissions us to have the courage to follow where God leads and reminds us of everyone’s innate value in God’s eyes.
“I have called you by your name, you are mine;
I have gifted you and ask you now to shine.
I will not abandon you; all my promises are true.
You are gifted, called, and chosen; you are mine.
I will help you learn my name as you go;
Read it written in my people, help them grow.
Pour the water in my name, speak the word your soul can claim,
Offer Jesus’ body given long ago.
I know you will need my touch as you go;
Feel it pulsing in creation’s ebb and flow.
Like the woman reaching out, choosing faith in spite of doubt,
Hold the hem of Jesus’ robe, then let it go.
I have given you a name, it is mine;
I have given you my Spirit as a sign.
With my wonder in your soul, make my wounded children whole;
Go and tell my precious people they are mine.”