Opening Prayer: I hope that after a few weeks, you will find a regular opening and closing devotion/prayer. Consider opening with the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
Open with an introduction game. One option is “Group Juggle”: Group stands in a circle. The object is to “juggle” beanbags as a group. One person starts with a beanbag and lobs it to another person in the circle and says their name. The object may not be thrown to your immediate neighbor. The second person chooses a third person to lob to and so on. This continues until everyone has touched the object and it returns to the original person. Make sure that everyone remembers the pattern. As the juggling continues, add a second (third, fourth, fifth…) beanbag to the juggling rotation. [To continue the water imagery, this game could be played outside with water balloons. Let me know if you would like those to be provided.]
Responding to Scripture: Read Matthew 3:16-17
Choose one, two, or all of the following activities.
(1.) Take time to draw a picture with symbols, or to write whatever you know about your own baptism. Then, share your baptism story (in 3 minutes or less) with the group. If you haven’t been baptized, tell about the baptism of someone you have witnessed. What made it memorable? What was strange about it? Keep pictures to post in your classroom.
(2.) Water as a symbol: Split up into two groups. Give each group 2 minutes to think of as many uses/experiences with water as possible (waterpark, bath, washing hands, etc.). Compare lists and give each team a point for each item, subtracting a point for those items on the other team’s list.) Then, in 2 minutes, make a list of as many Bible Stories as you can with water included. List on wipeboard. What does water mean to you as a person? What particular symbolism does water carry for the household of God?
(3.) When we are baptized, the congregation says to us, “We receive you into the household of God…” What does it mean to belong in God’s household? What does it mean that we, in this class, belong together to God’s household? What do we share? What don’t we share? What are challenges and gifts of living in your family household? How does that compare to life in the household of God? How could we live more fully into our membership in God’s household this year in Sunday School? Write down answers and return them to me, please!
(To be baptized is to be blessed with a story and an identity as one who is part of God’s plan of salvation.)
Leader: We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
All: We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
The basin of water of water is held by one person, while another dips his/her thumb in the water and makes the sign of the cross on her/his own forehead, saying:
I am sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.
Closing Prayer: Take turns sharing “joys” and “concerns” and praying for the person on your right.