Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” —Mark 4:30-34 Continue reading
The reason for my title is there are three Biblical stories that are traditionally read in worship during Epiphany, and they all share the same purpose. Epiphany means “appearance” or “manifestation”, and the themes of Epiphany are about seeing and knowing Jesus as the incarnate One, the Light of the World. Continue reading
I wrote the baptismal hymn text “Come here by the waters” early last year, and though several pastors have told me they have used it in worship, I had never heard it sung by a congregation until this morning.
We worshipped this morning at the church in RI where my daughter, Rebecca, is pastor. She administered five baptisms, and they sang my hymn. She has chosen it before, but never when I was present.
She made a clever move with it that I hadn’t thought of. She divided the first two verses and the final two, singing the former before the baptisms and the latter right after. This makes sense because the first two are invitational (“come bring us your child) and the latter two are blessings (Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power) and doxologies. Here are the words.
Come Here by the Waters
Come here by the waters, come bring us your child.
We’ll call on God’s Spirit, so loving and wild.
These people and parents will speak their firm vow.
This child full of blessing belongs to Christ now.
Your promise enduring will follow her* days,
And lead to a life filled with service and praise.
You’ll bless her** and keep her** and always be there,
Through life’s many changes you’ll watch her with care.
Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power,
That we may be faithful in every new hour.
Let church be a place that is brimming with love,
And bless these dear children with grace from above.
We praise you and thank you for all you provide,
For blessings and graces that reach far and wide.
Praise Father, praise Son, and the Spirit divine,
Both now and forever, and far beyond time.
(*or his, or their) (** or him, or them)
Tune: Cradle Song 188.8.131.52.
© Richard L. Floyd, 2015
(To learn more about this hymn, and for both accompaniment and melody line reproducible music go here. Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2016)
I am not a Baptist, but I struggled with infant baptism early in my ministry, partly because of Karl Barth’s influence, and partly because of my pain at the casual way it was often regarded in the culture Protestantism of much of New England Congregationalism, where I labored.
“Would Christianity really be reformed if it abolished infant baptism? Can that now be hoped for? Is that the only way to keep the magic out? Would it not be burning the house to roast the pig? Would it not reduce the church to the permanent condition of a missionary Church only, amid a quite pagan society?”
“Baptism is incorporation, not into Christ, but into the body of Christ, with its moral, spiritual, social influence on the soul. The child is not given the Spirit, but placed where the Spirit moves. It must make much difference to a young soul whether it is taught to believe it is a member of Christ’s body, and takes its disciplines as a child of the house, or whether it is taught to regard itself as an outsider, spectator, and by-product of the Church’s grace.”
Now that I am a pew-sitter and not a celebrant I have witnessed several baptisms in a variety of churches and forms and I am moved each time by the power of this gracious sacrament, however it is administered.