*Use freely with attribution
We are here to praise and enjoy God with body and soul, mind and heart, with song and word, with hands and feet.
We are here to give because of the abundance God has given us, to share with each other, and to receive, because God has created us to depend on each other.
We are here to celebrate the differences that otherwise might divide us: differences of age, of body, of culture, of opinion, of ability, of religious conviction.
We are here to put things in perspective: to celebrate what matters, to laugh about things we take too seriously, to cry about things that truly touch our hearts.
So may it be this morning: Amen!
I worship and adore God,
source, essence, and aim of all things,
spirit that enlivens all beings.
I follow the way of Jesus, who found God in himself
and shared a way for others to find God in themselves.
He was born through love,
He lived for love,
He suffered for love,
He died for love,
But love never dies.
I submit myself to the leadings of the love that is God,
that I may be compassionate to all beings,
that I may live and serve in community with others,
that I may ask for and offer forgiveness,
that I may praise and enjoy God forever. Amen!
(The parents hold baby Cameron as their friends and relatives gather in a circle on the altar of Sausalito Presbyterian Church. The godparents hold the chalice of water.)
We are here to praise God for the life of Cameron, our young friend, who in such a short time has brought us so much joy. Through Cameron we have experienced birth again in a new and more conscious way; in him, God has created the world again, opening us to wonder and possibility that we had forgotten.
We live not for ourselves alone, but toward God and for each other. Our lives are bound in a covenant of love with Cameron. We baptize Cameron with our desire to show him a way of life that naturally displays love, respect, and justice. We baptize him with our intention to witness the unfolding of God’s creation as he grows and changes. We baptize him with our desire to be in God’s presence as we are in his presence. We baptize Cameron with our desire to see him grow in spiritual maturity, in wisdom, and in soulful service to others, following in the spiritual footsteps of the Christ.
Each of us here has a unique role in raising this beautiful child.
Do you, his parents, commit yourselves to raising him in a manner that inspires faithfulness, compassion, and spiritual growth? If so, say, We do. Do you, the family and friends of Cameron, commit yourselves to being a faithful community that will guide and support him through life? If so, say, We do.
The chalice holds water which comes from his grandparents home town in Germany, and it has been blessed by the pastor of her family’s church. To it is added water from the Pacific Ocean which defines so much of the landscape that surrounds Cameron today. This water represents the far-flung cultural wellsprings that will nourish Cameron throughout his life.
Let us each touch the water, and as we do, let us infuse it with our commitments to share with Cameron the unique gifts that God has given us, gifts he’ll need from us as he goes along life’s way. Each of us has a very specific and vital role to play in raising Cameron. In silence or in a few words, as the chalice comes to you, you can add your blessing to Cameron.
(The godparents hold the baptismal chalice and goes around circle, each person touching the water)
To paraphrase the scripture: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you; therefore this child shall be called holy, a child of God.
(Make the mark of the cross on his forehead with water): Cameron, with this water we baptize you with the love that is God, known to us, among other names, as the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit, and Mother Wisdom.
I hold the child: “I present to you Cameron, God’s gift to his parents, to his family, and to all of us! Amen!”
In the name of the Father,
in the name of the Mother,
source of life,
from whom water flows,
to whom water returns,
In the name of the Son,
in the name of the Daughter,
flesh and blood
in whom we meet the Divine,
born of the physical water of childbirth
and the subtle water of Spirit,
In the name of the Spirit,
the Word, holy Mother Wisdom,
ideal formless form,
wind that moves water,
bliss of creativity,
We baptize you with this water,
and wash away all
that obscures God from your soul,
so that you may become
a clear, clean mirror
reflecting the presence of the divine.
With this water we awaken you
to your divine nature,
ordain you to works of service and compassion,
and confirm your intention
to grow in love for God and all beings.
To you, O God, my face I turn
Out in this desert stark and hot
I pray that I might here discern
Who I am from whom I’m not
And when you make my mission clear
Lead me to the river wide
And while your Spirit hovers near
Cleanse me from my spite and pride
Source and Center, Goal and Way
Friend and Lover, hear us pray
Keep our minds and bodies still
Let your Holy Spirit fill
The sacred silent empty place
Where we meet you face to face
I lovingly observe my attachment to my anger against those who embarrass, annoy, hurt, oppose, and threaten me, and against my own thoughts, urges, and feelings that offend me.
I lovingly release this frustration and resentment and open myself to faith that, in community with others, I can respond creatively and compassionately.
I lovingly observe my attachments to my own body, mind, ego, thoughts, and feelings. I lovingly observe my attachments to other people and things. I notice the ways I think and act as if I own or control them.
I lovingly release my own body, my so-called possessions, my ego, thoughts, and feelings. I lovingly release all other people and things, relinquishing my claims to them.
I open myself to loving myself and all other people and creatures and things, as free, sacred, miraculous beings. I open myself to delight in them, to enjoy them, to honor them, and to serve them as they may have need and as I am able.
I open myself to Love, who is God. I open myself to feel divine Love as the very essence of my being, to enjoy and serve God with my awe and my actions. Amen!
Thank you God for love I’ve lost
For love is worth the pain it cost
For giving me this heart to feel
The gift of grief that you reveal
Thank you, Jesus, for showing us the way to salvation, showing us the way to the pearly gates of heaven right here on earth, free and open all the time. Thank your for leading us to the clear, cool river that runs through the middle of the heavenly city, the river running with the water of life. Dear One, we accept your salvation! With thanks we take up your offer to fill the emptiness of our lives, with thanks we receive your guidance to change direction. Right now, by the power of your Holy Spirit, we are converted from the way of death to the way of joyful eternal life on earth. Oh, Dear One, with humble hearts we come before you in prayer, and with joy we invite you to live in our hearts forever!
Dear One, closer to us than our own hearts, farther from us than the most distant star, you are beyond naming.
May your powerful presence become obvious not only in the undeniable glory of the sky, but also in the seemingly base and common processes of the earth.
Give us what we need, day by day, to keep body and soul together, because clever as you have made us, we still owe our existence to you.
We recognize that to be reconciled with you, we must live peaceably and justly with other human beings, putting hate and bitterness behind us.
We are torn between our faith in your goodness and our awareness of the evil in your creation, so deliver us from the temptation to despair.
Yours alone is the universe and all its majesty and beauty.
So it is, Amen.
Lord, re-member us with you
With this bread, with this cup,
Lord, re-member us with you
With this love, with this care,
Lord, re-member us with you
On this day, in this hour,
Lord, re-member us with you.
A pinch of yeast within the flour
A treasure hidden in the ground
We know not the day nor hour
When the pearl is finally found
Secrets held in mustard seeds
Salty grains give food its worth
All our small but loving deeds
Show your presence in the earth
You bring alive what once seemed dead
Your word becomes as real as bread
Your love we taste in sips of wine
Your meal reveals the life divine
So let us feast on simple pleasures, and fast from all that gets our bodies and souls out of balance.
Let us feast on kindness, and fast from sarcasm.
Let us feast on compassion, and fast from holding grudges.
Let us feast on patience, and fast from anxiety.
Let us feast on peace, and fast from stirring up needless conflict.
Let us feast on acceptance, and fast from judgment.
Let us feast on joy, and fast from jealousy.
Let us feast on faith, and fast from fear.
Let us feast on creativity, and fast from all that deadens our souls.
Let us feast on social justice, and let us fast from negligence of the most vulnerable.
Let us feast on service to others, and fast from selfishness.
Let us feast on delight, and fast from despair.
Let us feast on bread and wine in spiritual communion, and fast from all that keeps us from communing deeply with each other and with God.
So that our lives might be sufficient, fulfilled, complete, whole, enough.
This body knows what it is like to have a nice house and a good job
It knows what it is like to feel uneasy about being wealthy
And it knows what it is like to be lonely, a stranger
It knows what it is like to live under a bush in a city park
It knows what it is like to try to sleep in a rain-soaked sleeping bag
This body knows what it is like to sit politely in meetings
And it knows how to howl in protest at injustice
It knows what it is like to eat right and exercise often
And it knows what it is like to wake up the morning after drinking a fifth of vodka
This body knows what it is like to do a triple flip on the bars of a jungle gym
And what it is like to lie paralyzed in a hospital bed for five years
This body knows what it is like to make love
And to make war
This body knows what it is like to be shunned because of the way it looks
And to be wanted because of the way it looks
This body knows what it is like to be afraid even of being afraid
And it knows what it is like to delight in taking crazy chances
This body knows what it is like to be treated like an any body instead of like a some body.
“This is my body.”
Take it in, take it on: receive the body of Christ.
“I am”, said God to Moses from the burning bush.
“Before Abraham was, I am”, said Jesus.
“I am the vine,” said Jesus.
“And you are the branches.”
Gnarled and twisted,
My woody sinews holding you aloft,
You, my branches, spreading, budding leaves,
Giving shelter, sharing beauty.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
We are members of each other.
I need the nourishment you pass
From your leaves back down to my trunk
As much as you need the water and food
I pour into you, up from my roots.
Re-member me when you feel cut off
Graft yourselves back on to me
When you are lonely or afraid.
Re-member me so that together
We may thrive and serve.
I am the wine.
Take me and drink.
We are one, and this is the sign.
As the vine turns water into grapes
I turn water into wine.
Through me you will find
That you and I are divine.
See grain ripening,
Watch grapes reddening,
See dough rising,
Smell juice fermenting,
From infancy to adulthood,
Watch friendship deepening,
Feel love swelling,
See the spread of community’s web,
Notice creativity emerging.
Taking it in,
Humbled with awe
Bread becomes body,
Wine becomes blood,
We become elements
Of cosmic eucharist.
How does it happen?
Secreted in yeast,
Hidden in the oven,
Obscured in the cask,
Unseen in the belly,
Occulted in the brain?
How does God become food,
Drink become divine?
How does love smell delicious,
Or truth wet the tongue?
By taking and being taken,
Eating and being eaten,
Drinking and being drunk;
By putting ourselves into each other
And letting each other grow:
This is the way
War yeasts to peace,
Anger ferments to forgiveness,
Grief bakes into gratitude,
Hate ages to patience,
Pride digests to humility,
Selfishness brews into compassion,
Conflict cooks to communion.
Take, and eat,
Take, and drink.
On my forehead,
A sign of the cross,
Smudged in ash from the fire
That burned down the McMansion of my hubris,
And, with it,
The money I should have given away,
The television I used to numb my senses,
The carpet I should have been called on,
The doors I should have opened to others,
The envelopes I should have used
To send letters of love,
The wise books I shelved prominently
So that others would think I had read them,
The blank places in my photo albums
Where my darker moments should have been remembered,
The calendars where visits with the people who needed me most
Should have been scheduled,
The couch of my complacency,
The lounge-chair of my laziness,
The shirts I stuffed with my pride,
The moccasins I should have traded with others
So we could have walked miles in them.
On my forehead,
A sign of the crossroad
Where I can turn from the way of ruin
To the way of life.
Dear One who meets us on both sides of the stone that guards the tomb, who makes new lives out of the ones we lose, we hang on to the old lives we are losing, and hesitate to embrace the new ones you make for us. We hang on to immaturity, to habits that have become holy to us, even as they drag us down. We hang on to ways of thinking and living that we have outgrown. We hang on to political and economic systems that result in gross inequity, just because we hate to give up what is familiar. We let our homes become museums instead of shelters for a living love. We linger at the tombs where we store our embalmed images of ourselves, even as you are transforming that image into yours. In the silence of prayer we wait for you to roll away the stone and reveal to us the new life that you are creating for each of us. Amen!
May we love ourselves and each other in the same way that God loves us. May our love be the means by which the love of God is made obvious in this world. Amen, until love brings us together again!
As we leave worship
Let us remember our place in creation
Let us observe ourselves from the divine perspective
Let us remember that we are reflections of the personality
of the universe
We embody the image of God
And of all our tasks, our schemes and aims,
None compares to this one:
That we are here to praise and enjoy God forever.
May the peace of God surround you
Like the trees of the forest
May the peace of God warm you all over
Like the sun in the sky
May the peace of God swell and roll over you
Like a wave in the sea
May the peace of God fill you
Like the cool wind
May the peace of God be with you.
So boundless bonds will grow
To make this human race a whole
Freely may your call be heard
To free obedience to your Word
To each of us our special tasks
Found by doing what you ask
By grace ordain us day by day.
(Words spoken as Lily, the new driver, stands on the altar, while the pastor passes her freshly-issued license quickly through the flame of a candle.)
Dear God, we pray that this license will be a blessing for Lily and for all who drive with her or near her. May she always be conscious of the great power which this license invests in her. May all drivers around her be just as conscious and aware as we pray she will be. May she be filled with a holy spirit of patience, calm, kindness, and forbearance as she drives. May her hands and her feet and her eyes be quick to avoid danger to herself and others. May she drive far and wide, see many wonderful things, visit many wonderful people, for as long as this license is valid. Amen!
And now, let us pass the license among us in the congregation. Hold it with both hands and offer your blessing on it, on Lily, and on all with whom she comes near on the road.
(I pray in worship with my hand on a copy of my income tax return resting on the pulpit, on the Sunday before taxes are due:)
Dear God, bless my taxes! Give me peace of mind as I struggle to fill out the forms and determine the right amounts I should be sending to the government. Keep me calm, I pray, as I write out those fat checks on April 15. And whisper a reminder to me, Lord, of all the good reasons that I send my money to my government every year.
Remind me of the fact that I could not write this prayer if I had not received an excellent tax-subsidized education. My parents couldn’t have afforded fancy private schools or colleges. Gently show me that the Internet, through which I send this prayer to others, was created with taxpayer dollars. Help me to recall that my freedom to pray as I wish was purchased with the lives of soldiers and the tax payments of other citizens who defended liberty before I was born. Reveal to me, Lord, in my mind’s eye, the roads and the airports, the water systems, the magnificent parks and wilderness areas, the public health workers, the regulators of the environment and of commerce, the scientists, and all else that my taxes make possible. They provide safety and comfort, protect natural resources, and enable capitalism to flourish for the benefit of all. Remind me of how hard and scary life was for the sick and elderly before citizens paid Social Security taxes and received its benefits. Remind me, dear One, just how expensive, difficult, and unpleasant life would be for us all without all the services and protections that are funded by my tax payments.
Dear Lord, remind me that for all the good things that I and others receive back from the government, my tax payments are a bargain. Redeem me from selfishness and give me a spirit of gratitude as I write those tax checks. Inspire me to see that this is a sacred duty, and is a way that I serve others who are vulnerable, poor, or sick, and are especially dependent on public assistance.
O dear One, there are so many ways I wish my taxes could be spent differently. There are many things I don’t like about what my government is doing, and there are many very important things it leaves undone. I’m very distressed that my taxes fund an immoral war, I’m disgusted at the diversion of my tax money into political corruption. I’m embarrassed that my government doesn’t take the needs of the poor seriously, and I’m outraged that my taxes aren’t paying for a health care system that guarantees coverage to everyone. I’m willing, O Lord, to pay even more in taxes if it would work for the common good: it could save us all even more money and trouble, in the end. More than ever, dear God, give me the strength and the vision to take action as a voter, pressing my government to act for peace and justice at home and abroad. My sacred duty as a citizen is only partly fulfilled as I write my tax checks. I ask for your guidance, God, as I join with others to change the priorities and values of our government, so that it reflects your loving will more closely.
May your blessing rest on my Form 1040 this next week, dear Lord, and may my taxes well serve you and my fellow citizens! Amen.