20 June 2007

Updated: A Responsive Prayer for the Baptismal Candidates and over the Water of Baptism (Final form)

Thanks for your suggestions everyone!

The good Rev. Fr. Matthew Cadwell, who will be leaving Trinity Church, Aurora soon for Christ Church, Deer Park and who will be joining the faculty of Trinity College in the University of Toronto this autumn, gave me a challenging assignment the other day to sharpen my liturgical skills. The project was to create a single prayer that effectively served as both the Prayers for the Baptismal Candidates and the Thanksgiving over the Water. At first, I thought it would be easy, until he laid down the requirements.

Fr. Cadwell's requirements were these:

-The prayer must be responsive on part of the congregation;
-The responses must be simple, succint, consistent, and easy to remember; and
-The prayer must be inclusive.

I have to admit that I don't use much inclusive language in the liturgy, but I enjoyed the challenge, which helped me to get the brain rocking.

My first task prior to drafting the text was to consult the catechism on the Episcopal Church's doctrine concerning Holy Baptism, as well as any papers regarding the common consensus on Holy Baptism in the Anglican Communion. After poring over that, I sought to find the scriptural references that backed up the Church's position. My next task was to read the actual texts as used in the Book of Common Prayer 1979, and fill the gaps by reading similar texts in other Christian bodies. Lastly, I sought any other interpretations by Christian writers, and the precursors to Holy Baptism, most notably the Jewish Mikvah.

When I intially drafted the text, I split the current Thanksgiving over the Water (page 306) into sections that corresponded with the appropriate petition in the current Prayers for the Candidates (page 305). With a lot of heavy editing, massive expansion, literary licence, and imagination, I have created a prayer that barely resembles the original prayers. I hope you enjoy my effort. Do leave me a comment.


May God be with you.
And also with you.

People of God, bless your God!
God’s mercy endures for ever!

Blessed are you, O God who births the Creation.
At the dawn of all wonder,
your primal Spirit breathed over the waters,
and through the flood of Noah you made the world new.
Cleanse these children (persons) of the power of evil and death.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Compassionate are you, O God who hears our cries.
When Pharaoh enslaved your people Israel,
you parted the roaring sea to clear the path to freedom,
and from the rock burst forth sweet water to quench their thirst.
Uphold these children (persons) with your grace.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Generous are you, O God who shares the blessing.
From the waters of the Jordan,
you anointed and revealed your Christ,
and from the pierced side of the Crucified One,
flowed water and salvation.
Stir up these children (persons)
with your holy and renewing Spirit.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Loving are you, O God who calls us to the waters of Baptism.
In it the Old Adam is buried with Christ’s death,
by it Eve’s children share in Christ’s resurrection,
and through it we are born again in your all-embracing Spirit.
Bring these children (persons) to everlasting life.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Faithful are you, O God whom we exalt!
By the crashing waves, Miriam’s timbrel led the dance,
so now, in joyful obedience to Christ’s command,
we baptize into your Name those who come to you in faith!
Preserve these children (persons) in your truth.
Grant this, O gracious God.

At the following words, the Celebrant touches the water

Sanctify this water, we humbly pray,
and empower it with your life-giving Spirit,
that those whose sins are washed away
in these waters of rebirth,
may partake in the divine life of our Risen Saviour.
Inspired and filled with the Spirit of holiness,
make them effective witnesses to your love and justice,
seeking and serving Christ in every person
to the glory of your Name.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Praising you through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit,
we offer you these prayers, asking you to-
Grant this, O gracious God.

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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