Book of Common Worship

Whenever the Community Gathers...

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The new Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is full of good things. We have already featured its “Immigrant’s Creed” (in the ALL-Archive). Here is another fine extract, from its opening pages on “Common Words and Gestures”—the simple and excellent suggestion that the font of baptism should be open and filled with water whenever the community gathers, and the waters of baptism recalled each time.

Its Service of the Lord’s Day (Sunday service) has the presider pour water in the font to introduce confession of sin, and lift water out of the font to declare God’s forgiveness. Services of daily prayer begins each day with a thanksgiving for baptism, at the baptismal font (presumably for those praying in the church building) or a bowl of water (those at home). The daily prayers are different each day, and here is Thursday’s:

Eternal God, we give you thanks
that through the gift of our baptism
you call us to a new way of life
in the realm of your grace and peace.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
let your will be done in our lives
and in this world that you love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(p. 887)

The Book of Common Worship (2018).

Below: the font of baptism, Pilgrim Theological College. (Photos: Stephen Burns.)

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The Immigrants’ Creed

I believe in Almighty God,
who guided the people in exile and in exodus,
the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon,
the God of foreigners and immigrants.

I believe in Jesus Christ,
a displaced Galilean,
who was born away from his people and his home,
who fled his country with his parents when his life was in danger,
and returning to his own country suffered the oppression
of the tyrant Pontius Pilate, the servant of a foreign power,
who then was persecuted, beaten, and finally tortured,
accused and condemned to death unjustly.
But on the third day, this scorned Jesus rose from the dead,
not as a foreigner but to offer us citizenship in heaven.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the eternal immigrant from God’s kingdom among us,
who speaks all languages, lives in all countries,
and reunites all races.

I believe that the church is the secure home
for the foreigner and for all believers who constitute it,
who speak the same language and have the same purpose.
I believe that the communion of the saints begins
when we accept the diversity of the saints.

I believe in the forgiveness of sin, which makes us all equal,
and in reconciliation, which identifies us more
than does race, language, or nationality.

I believe that in the resurrection
God will unite us as one people
in which all are distinct
and all are alike at the same time.

Beyond this world, I believe in life eternal
in which no one will be an immigrant
but all will be citizens of God’s kingdom,
which will never end. Amen.

"The Immigrants’ Creed" by Jose Luis Casal / The Book of Common Worship: 2018 Edition (Nashville, Tenn.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), pp. 613-4.

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I gave a paper at a seminar of the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies last year, on the extraordinary artwork by John Tamsey, a Uniting Church deacon. His image, called “Deterrence,” is of crucified people on crosses headed with the names of Australian offshore detention centres. Images: Facebook page of Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies:  https://www.facebook.com/FeministTheologies/  My paper will be published in a book being edited by Carolyn Alsen and Fotini Toso.

I gave a paper at a seminar of the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies last year, on the extraordinary artwork by John Tamsey, a Uniting Church deacon. His image, called “Deterrence,” is of crucified people on crosses headed with the names of Australian offshore detention centres. Images: Facebook page of Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies: https://www.facebook.com/FeministTheologies/ My paper will be published in a book being edited by Carolyn Alsen and Fotini Toso.