George Stuart writes thoughtful new lyrics to traditional and familiar tunes. Here’s some new lyrics suitable for baptism services. Could also be helpful for the Baptism of Jesus service (January 10th in 2016). George graciously offers these lyrics, and no copyright license is needed. You are free to print them out and copy them or create PowerPoint presentations of them to screen through a data projector to use in public worship. Click on link (above) for George’s blogsite or here for his website.

In this Sacrament with Water.  Tune  All through the night.  Not in AHB  TiS 168

In this sacrament with water
God can be seen;
In each human son and daughter
God can be seen;
When love streams from fathers, mothers,
Gen’rously from sisters, brothers,
When compassion flows from others
God can be seen.

God in love’s refreshing water
Brings us to life;
God in love’s creative water
Brings us to life;
Water, vital for our growing,
Health and energy bestowing,
Like God’s love, is overflowing
Brings us to life.

Joining in this solemn moment
Our spirits rise;
As we pledge our shared commitment
Our spirits rise;
Through this joyous celebration
We receive God’s affirmation;
So it is with all creation
Our spirits rise.

We come here not knowing    Tune  The Ash Grove  Not in AHB  TiS 531

We come here not knowing
The myst’ry of growing,
But still we are thankful for what it may bring;
New life in the making
With ev’ry awak’ning
Gives promise of joy, so with nature we sing;
In myst’ry we’re seeing
The Ground of all Being
Displayed here before us – a wonderful sight;
All new life is telling
That God is indwelling,
And in that assurance we take great delight.

The womb with safe water
For each son and daughter
Has been the first home in which love is the food;
Now water of blessing
In love is expressing
The welcome of God and our own gratitude;
Clear water refreshes;
It cleanses then blesses
With what is essential for life to abound;
So love, like the water
For each son and daughter
Through us, is God’s gift with which they can be crowned.

In great jubilation
With all of creation
We honour the living with all of our heart;
To mould the potential
To be influential
We pledge to give nurture, accepting our part;
We look at each baby
And feel that just maybe
God’s face is all smiling with these gifts of grace;
We all have the duty
To live out our beauty
By holding each one in love’s richest embrace.

Drink deep
Drink deep, little one…
The water poured over you today
has been part of the world since its beginning
and will be until its end.
It quenches the thirst of the gasping
and cools the throats of the parched
it washes the world clean
it lets the world live.
Drink deep, little one.
Soak it up.
Drown in its life.
It’s yours now.
Cheryl Lawrie, hold this space

Let it be living water by Don Bell (music on request)

Wind over wave in the darkness,
at the cradle of the earth;
as you have founded it upon the floods,
give a new creation birth.
Let it be living water, Lord;
water, and the Spirit. (Repeat)

Down in the river of life,
as its waves break over you,
deep calls to deep at the resounding Word,
and a child is born anew.

Over the sea is the promise,
through the wind and rain and squall;
walk to the waters to the other side,
to a journey and a call.

We believe in God the creator
who created water for us in diverse forms;
creeks and currents,
springs and spas,
ponds and puddles.
Without this gift of water, we would perish.
We believe in Jesus,
baptised by John in the waters of the Jordan,
and sent by God to bring Living Water to all people.
This Jesus spent time
chatting with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
His contact with her so refreshed her
that she was able to start life anew
and, in turn, give new life to her community.
We believe that our contact with Jesus
enables us to do likewise.
We believe in God’s Spirit
which has the force of a thundering waterfall,
ready to be used to renew the world,
if only we would let it.
We believe that God calls us all
to work joyfully to create communities
where the river of water of life
gives fullness of life to all people. Amen.
(Source: Ross Mackinnon, July 2009)

The Miracle of a Baby’s Birth  by George Stuart (Tune:  Greensleeves)

The miracle of a baby’s birth
Is a wonder happening throughout the earth;
Yet every one is unique and new –
The beginning of life of deep value;
Come singing a joyful song,
For in God we know that we all belong;
In sacrament we proclaim
That in God we are given our new name.

In celebration with water clear
We can symbolize what is truly dear;
For love like water, we need to live,
To refresh, to sustain, and be active;
Come singing a joyful song,
For in God we know that we all belong;
In sacrament we declare
That in love we are sharing in God’s care.

The Jesus story is told today;
It’s a story vital in ev’ry way;
The welcome here in this sign we see
That his love is inclusive completely;
Come singing a joyful song
For in God we know that we all belong;
In sacrament we present
That in God is our endless enrichment.

The Wonder of New Life   by George Stuart (Tune: Londonderry Air)
Not in AHB or TiS   In Methodist Hymnbook  809.

Before the wonder of new life we celebrate
The preciousness of all humanity;
We come with thankful hearts to praise and meditate
Upon this miracle and mystery.
As living water gave to us our early home,
So water now declares that love surrounds;
And in this love that follows us where‘er we roam,
We learn of God and of the love that knows no bounds.

We come to celebrate the love that parents bring
To this new life, dependent and so small;
We learn that love must first be in receiving;
We must be loved ere we can love at all;
This sacred rite shows us God’s love is prior to
The things that we might ever do or say;
This is the love which promises both me and you
Acceptance as we are, forgiveness when we stray.

We look at Jesus and we see what life can be;
We look to him to guide us on our way;
We see in him the love of God for you and me;
His loving life, we celebrate this day.
It is inloving that we find identity;
It is in love we know we can be strong;
It is in love we find our true humanity;
It is in love, and love alone that we belong.

Congregational response:
We welcome you into our church family
We are members together of the body of Christ.
We are children of the one God
We affirm our faith in God our Maker,
in Jesus Christ our Saviour
and in the Holy Spirit our guide
We accept our responsibilities to encourage you,
and all other children in our midst,
to grow up in the knowledge and love of Christ
xx, we welcome you.
(Source: Greenbank, Glasgow)

The words used to baptise people: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Other forms of words are not acceptable. The Uniting Church can not act alone in this. We are part of the one holy, catholic and apostolic church. While it is true that, in places, the New Testament speaks of baptising people “in the name of Jesus”, even within the New Testament era itself we see the rapid development towards the full Triune formula (Matt 28:19). By decision of the Uniting Church Assembly, we are committed to baptising people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The minute reads: That all Ministers of the Word and others authorised to administer the sacrament of baptism be required to use the following words as the baptismal formula, without variation or exception: NN (Christian names), I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Minute 88.24.3) Other formulas, such as “in the name of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer” are not equivalent and may not be used. Such other formulas do say important things about God, but are not modern-day translations of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The whole of the Triune God participates in creation, redemption and sustaining. Furthermore, such terms only describe some roles or functions of God, not the being of God. In the baptismal formula we have no choice, both because of our understanding of baptism, and because of our ecumenical agreements. The terms “Father” and “Son,” (but not Holy Spirit!) are masculine and this may create problems for some. The Uniting Church does, however, encourage the use of a wide range of imagery for God in all other contexts. If we do not use the baptismal formula as required, other churches may have difficulty recognising the baptism.

Interesting article by G. Shane Morris on infant baptism (courtesy of Patheos).
An excerpt”…the core assumption (with adult baptism only) is that you must have a conversion experience to be saved. You must turn away from a past life toward a new one, usually with tears and laments attesting your sincerity. And this view of Christianity works well in an evangelistic setting, where many have lived as open unbelievers. The problem is, anyone who was raised in a Christian home and still believes in Jesus knows that there wasn’t a time when s/he transitioned from “unbelief” to “belief.” We were never “converted.” It was simply inculcated from infancy, and for as long as we can remember, we have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, whether we were baptized as a baby or not. But because of the baptistic emphasis on conversion, many (if not most) raised in those churches found ourselves “converting” over and over, reciting the “sinner’s prayer” at countless altar calls during our childhood and teenage years, certain that each time, we were truly sincere, but always finding ourselves back at the altar. Some of us even asked to be re-baptized upon our fresh conversions. And everyone raised in evangelical churches will know what I mean when I say “testimony envy” – that real and perverse jealousy you feel when someone who lived a nastier pre-conversion life than you shares their story.
This is where I think the chief difficulty with infant baptism lies, at least for American evangelicals. I don’t believe baptistic evangelicals really view their children as unregenerate pagans before their “credible profession of faith.” If they did, they wouldn’t teach them to say the Lord’s Prayer or to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” I think what’s really going on is a kind of alternative sacramentalism, where a dramatic conversion experience, rather than baptism, is the rite of Christian initiation. Thus, children raised in this setting feel the need to manufacture tearful conversions over and over to prove their sincerity. And rather than their present trust in Christ, they’re taught (implicitly or explicitly) to look back to a time, a place, and a prayer, and stake their salvation on that.
Infant baptism runs counter to this entire system. It declares visibly that God induces a change of heart and a saving faith in those too young to even speak or remember their “conversions.” It illustrates that the branches God grafts in to His Son aren’t sterile. They bud and blossom, producing new branches that have never drunk another tree’s sap. And most importantly, it matches the lived experiences of believers’ children, rather than continually imposing a system on them that was designed for first-generation converts.


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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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