Every year, we read the story of the baptism of Jesus at church. While the telling of the baptism varies from one Gospel to another, the basic premise is the same: Jesus approaches John the baptist for baptism; John states that Jesus really should be baptizing John instead; Jesus insists, and John complies. I love the liturgical calendar because it invites me to consider these stories of the faith every single year. I get frustrated with the liturgical calendar because it invites me to consider these stories of the faith every single year.
I have found it personally formational to follow the church calendar. The church calendar invites me to follow in the footsteps of Christ from his birth to his death, resurrection, and ascension. It encourages me to learn from the experiences of the earliest disciples as they struggled to share the good news of great joy with people all around the known world. And it inspires me as I remember that I’m not alone in this journey. Many have come before me, and many will come after me. I’m part of a great cloud of witnesses, all doing the best we can wherever we find ourselves.
I have also found it a challenge not to allow the yearly stories to become rote and meaningless. What does it mean to tell the story of Jesus’s baptism every year? How can I approach the story with fresh eyes and with some zest? Or, as I supposed to approach it with fresh eyes at all?
This year, I decided to create a litany for remembering one’s baptism to accompany the Scripture text about the baptism of Jesus. You are welcome to use this in your congregation or for personal use. I have suggested using blue-colored stones as part of this litany. It is not essential, but I have found it personally helpful for me to pair litanies like this with a tangible/visible object.
May you remember your belovedness this year. You are chosen by God, whether you keep your resolutions and goals, or whether you stayed in bed all day. May God be with you in this new year!
A Litany for Remembering Your Baptism
Reader 1: At the beginning of a new year, we make resolutions and goals. We might choose a word for the year or receive a Star Word. We spend time reflecting on how we showed up over the course of the last year, and we wonder who we will be and how we will show up in the new year to come. All of this wondering who we are can make us feel lost in thought, detached from our surroundings, or maybe even filled with despair as we wonder what it means to be who God made us to be. As we pause to remember our baptism, let us first remember God’s proclamation of who we are.
Reader 2: When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased'” (Matthew 3:17). God called Jesus the Beloved Son so that we would have no doubt of who Jesus is. But listen also to what God says about each of us: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2).
Reader 3: In your pew, you will find a small collection of blue stones. Take one and hold it in your hand as we remember our baptism, our identity in Christ. We are not our goals or our resolutions. We are not our failures or our successes. We are God’s beloved children. Take hold of your stone, close your eyes, and let’s remember together.
<Moment of silence>
Reader 1: In this next moment, we are going to remember together our baptismal vows. You can either keep your eyes closed and remember God’s love for you and your chosenness by God, or feel free to open your eyes and look at the baptismal font or the stone in your hand as we say together our vows.
Reader 2: I ask you, therefore, before God and Christ’s Church to reject evil, to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, and to confess the faith of the church. Do you renounce sin and the power of evil in your life and in the world? If so, please say, “I renounce them.”
People: I renounce them.
Reader 3: Who is your Lord and Savior? If you so choose to respond, please say, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.”
People: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
Reader 1: Will you be a faithful participant in this congregation, and through worship and service seek to advance God’s purposes here and throughout the word? If so, please respond, “I will, and I ask God to help me.”
People: I will, and I ask God to help me.
Reader 2: Let us pray. We thank you, O God, for the gift of baptism. In this moment, you remind us that we are buried with Christ in his death, raised to share in his resurrection, and are being renewed by the Holy Spirit. Stir up your Spirit within us so that we may claim the precious word you have given to us: Beloved. Amen.
Reader 3: Take this stone with you. Keep it close, or put someplace where you can see it every day. Remember: you are beloved, this new year and in all the days to come. Receive this reminder: your truest self is your identity in Christ. Thanks be to God!
 The baptismal vows and the prayer after the vows are adapted from the baptismal service in Worship the Lord: The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America. Some of the wording has been changed or added to by April Fiet for the purposes of a baptismal remembrance service within the context of a worship service early on in a new year.