Remembering Our Baptism: A Ritual of Water

For my Doctor of Ministry class this week, we were assigned the task of creating a ritual related to the course’s themes: Worship, Ecology, and Social Change. We brought the rituals into the class to trial. Below is the ritual I designed and wrote (with the exception of the opening prayer), and it is intended, in this form, to be used with a fully online group. It could easily be adapted for in-person groups or hybrid groups. Words for the ritual facilitator are in italics.

Welcome and Gathering Prayer

[Participants are invited to gather a glass of water or other drink derived from the water of their location, e.g., tea or coffee.]

This morning, we celebrate the gift of water. A gift that has channeled the love of the Divine since the beginning of time. God’s gift flowing out of a big bang, of mysteries within mysteries. A blessing born and reborn in the cycles of life that flowed before us, into us, and we pray will flow beyond us. At three points in this ritual, we’ll pause together to receive the gift of water (or tea/coffee). 

As a way of centering into this space, we will begin with “A Prayer of Blessing Water” by Roberta Egli.

Gathering Prayer*

I will read the “One” and invite you to unmute, joining in after I say “Together…” with the response, “God’s love flows through the water.”

One: In the beginning water cradled us in the womb
Holding us in suspension until we burst forth in the waters of Birth
Many: God’s love flows through the water

One: In the desert a small drop of water causes life to bloom
A tiny drop of water can quench our burning thirst for justice
Many: God’s love flows through the water

One: In the roots of our being water provides sustenance
Without water our lives would shrivel and wither
Many: God’s love flows through the water

One: In the times when we feel sullied and broken
We long to be reawakened by soaking in forgiving, transforming love
Many: God’s love flows through the water

One: All water is holy.
A sign that we have passed through troubles,
That we have been refreshed by a gift of life
Sustained by a love poured over us.
Many: God’s love flows through the water

One: In the aftermath of water…
Flowing, pouring, falling, dropping, gushing, spilling, surging, tumbling, showering…
is the rainbow sign of God’s continuing love at work within us and through us.
Many: God’s love flows through the water.

The Waters of Our Birth

We have then before us our blessed water, and we move into three opportunities for receiving the gift of water.

We begin by remembering together the waters of our birth, and in doing so, remember our ancestors—biological ancestors, ancestors in faith, transcestors, or others—and the watersheds that nourished the ecosystems in which they lived. I invite you to offer in the chat, or to speak aloud, the names of ancestors whose stories feel close to you this day, and if you know it, you may also name a water source that supported these ancestors.

[allow time for people to offer names and watersheds]

One: Spirit of the Deep,
Remembering these ancestors and our ancestral waters, 
we receive the gift of water before us,
and we drink in gratitude for the waters of the past.



The Waters of Our Baptism

We turn our mind-bodies to the memories of our baptisms. Whether as infants or adults, we imaginatively remember the experience of being welcomed into the universal family and Body of Christ through the gift of water. As it feels comfortable, I invite you to push into that memory, tracing back where the waters for your baptism came from—the water source used to fill the font, to fill the pitcher, or the body of water in which you were immersed. 

Again, as you feel led, I invite you to offer in the chat or to speak aloud the names of the water source in which you were baptized. It’s okay if you don’t know the watershed area/name; a local creek, river, pond, or lake whose name you know is a part of the intersecting threads of the waterways and is also welcome!

[allow time for people to offer water sources]

One: God of all places,
Remembering our baptismal waters,
we receive the gift of water before us,
and we drink in gratitude for the creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, and the deep, hidden waters that nourish our spiritual journeys.



The Waters of Our Beloved Community

And finally, surrounded by the memories of our ancestors, of our baptisms, and the waters that have brought us to this point, we bring our attention to the present. We open our hearts to the waters that sustain us and the Beloved Community of our ecosystems. We pause to recognize that since time immemorial, and during white colonization and occupation of this land, each of our watersheds has been stewarded by Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. We likely have different roles in this story, but we share this day a mutual hope for the health of this water. In faith, we envision a future with clean water for generations to come.

I invite you, as you feel led, to share aloud or in the chat the names of the Indigenous peoples who currently or historically stewarded the waters where you live. It’s okay if you do not know the names of the Indigenous peoples at this time. You may also share an intention for your relationship with water or your watershed.

[allow time for people to offer Indigenous people groups & intentions]

Before we pause this final time to give thanks, I wanted to note that we’ll have a few moments to drink our water/tea/coffee together while listening to the song Take Me to the Water, performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Feel free to let the music move you and your body, even as you drink, if the Spirit so inspires.  

One: Source and Sustainer,
Remembering the waters that quench our present thirst,
we receive the gift of water before us,
and we drink in gratitude for those who steward it today with a hope for the future.

Friends, take this water and drink. Taste and see that it is good!

Song: Take Me To the Water


Receive this blessing.

One: God’s love flows through the water
and that love now flows through us,
into our communities and into our earth,
refreshing, renewing, and transforming us all.

*Roberta J. Egli, “Prayer of Blessing Water,” for Reconciling Ministries Worship at General Conference, Pittsburgh, 2004.