Friday, July 21, 2017

Affirmation of Baptism as Croning Ritual

Due to the historical understanding of the word crone, not all women may be comfortable with this term, as it may suggest an image of an old, withered and haggard woman.  As this sense of the word is not intended by the ritual, many may prefer to frame the service differently or simply call it an Affirmation of Baptism.

preparation
Women who are participating in the Croning ritual may choose to prepare themselves through fasting and/or meditation prior to the service. This is certainly not mandatory but may add to their experience of the ritual particularly if it is followed by a festive meal.
The worship space should be prepared. Seating should be reserved to accommodate any or all the following:
  •  Those making affirmation of their baptism
  • Wise Women of the community who are honored guests
  • Friends and family who will offer their memories as a part of the ritual
  • Worship leaders which may include a presiding minister, liturgical director, lector and acolyte.
The altar or overall space may be decorated with memorable objects that symbolize important points in the participants’ lives. They may be organized by decade or around major life events. Planners are encouraged to create an atmosphere of abundance. Flowers, greenery, shells, seasonal fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts – all may be used to decorate the altar and worship area.
The font should have central place. If this is not possible, planners are encouraged to create a temporary font which can be seen by all during the ritual. Water is central to the celebration and remembrance of baptism. The sound and the feel of water should be remembered by those who participate. An ewer or pitcher should be filled and placed at the font.
GATHERING
Welcome
Since it is likely that members of the assembly will be unfamiliar with this type of ritual, it will be helpful for the presiding minister to offer a few brief comments of welcome and introduction. Issues of hospitality such as childcare, location of facilities and use of electronics may be included in the welcome or in a printed bulletin.

CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
All may make the sign of the cross, a sign of Baptism and grace.    
  L   Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God, who forgives all our sin, whose mercy endures forever.
  C   Amen


 The presiding minister may lead the gathering in this preparation prayer.
  L   God of all wisdom, you know us inside and out.  You knit us together in our mothers’ wombs long before we took our first breaths. You have seen our missteps and our successes and in all things, you have loved us. Cleanse our hearts, our minds and our spirits that we may love you more fully and serve you in all that we say and do.
  C   Amen

The following or another confession may be prayed.
  L   Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.

The assembly kneels or stands. Silence is kept for reflection.
  L   Gracious God,
  C   have mercy on us. We confess that we have turned from you and followed our own will. We have sinned against you, but we are truly sorry and humbly repent.  In your great kindness, forgive us our sins, known and unknown, things we have done and things we have left undone.  Turn us again to you, so that our lives might show the power of your grace.  Amen

The presiding minister announces God’s forgiveness with these or similar words.
  L   God, whose mercy is never-ending, loved us even when were dead in sin and made us alive in Christ. By grace you have been saved. In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven. May the power of the Holy Spirit strengthen you, that Christ might dwell in your heart and mind and soul.
  C   Amen

The assembly stands.
Gathering Song
Having a musician lead the assembly’s song is always preferred. However, if that is not possible, planners should choose music which will be familiar and identify someone who can lead the singing prior to the event.

Suggested Songs for use in the ritual.  ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship; WOV: With One Voice
All Are Welcome, ELW 641
Baptized in Water, ELW 456
Bind Us Together, WOV 758
Borning Cry, WOV ELW 742
For All the Faithful Women, WOV 692
For All the Faithful Women, ELW 419
God is Here, ELW 526
O Blessed Spring, WOV 447
Take Oh, Take Me As I Am, ELW 814
Waterlife, ELW 457
Baptismal Hymns, ELW 209–217, 442–459

  L   God be with you.
  C   And also with you.

The following prayer or another prayer for the day is used.
  L   Let us pray.
        God of the beginning and of the end, you are the source of holy wisdom, and the fountain of all truth. We give you thanks for the wise women among us, especially…  We have been enriched by their wisdom and seasoning. We are touched by their knowledge and faith. Bless them, O God, as they are a blessing to us. Pour out your Spirit, that all our elders may continue to dream dreams and bear witness to the light they know in Jesus Christ. And may each of us be inspired to lead lives of service and faithfulness. 
  C   Amen
  
ENCOUNTERING THE WORD
As this is a specifically Christian ritual, one or more readings from the Bible should be read. These readings may be chosen by those who are affirming their baptism.  They should be encouraged to select readings which particularly speak to their faith journey.  If a psalm is chosen, worship planners are encouraged to involve the gathered assembly through word, chant or song. Some suggested texts are:

Psalm 23   The Lord is my shepherd
Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and salvation
Psalm 46   God is our refuge and strength
Psalm 71 The Lord will revive me
Psalm 90 Our dwelling place in all generations
Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills
Proverbs 8  Wisdom’s call
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season
Romans 5:1-5 Justification by faith gives peace
Romans 14:7-8   We do not live to ourselves
Philippians 3:12-16 Pressing on to the goal

The readings may be announced:
A reading from __________

The reading may be concluded:
Word of God, word of life.

The assembly responds:
Thanks be to God.


GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
The assembly is invited to stand for the proclamation of the Gospel.  The person giving the proclamation may choose to process to a place central in the assembly. An Alleluia or Lenten verse may be sung prior to the reading.

THE GOSPEL
Some suggested gospel readings include those listed, however worship planners are encouraged to work with those affirming their baptism to choose readings which are reflective of their faith and which create a cohesive gospel message for the day.

Matthew 6:25-34   Do not be anxious
Luke 12:6-7   The hairs of your head are all counted
John 3:16-21   For God so loved the world
John 14:1-3   I prepare a place for you
John 15:7-11   Abide in my love

The gospel is announced:
The Gospel according to _________
Glory to you, O Lord.

The gospel concludes:
The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

HOMILY
A homily may be offered. The homily should be brief and can help to frame other readings and remembrances offered during the Croning ritual.

SONG OF THE DAY
Worship planners are encouraged to choose a song which speaks to the scriptural texts that have been chosen or to the affirmation of baptism. There is wisdom in making effective use of hymn concordances found online or in print.

SHARING OUR STORY
This section of the liturgy moves the focus more directly onto the persons affirming their baptism. It is a time to bear witness to the gifts of faith and wisdom that have been shared by individuals. Some possibilities for directing this portion of the ritual would be:
1.     Celebration of the Decades: Invite someone from each decade of the person’s life to give a brief reflection.  These should be limited in time, 1 to 3 minutes at most.  If this model is chosen, worship planners should keep the overall service length in mind.
2.     Her Story: Those women affirming their baptism reflect on what the ritual means to them.  How do they envision themselves within the role of wise woman?
3.     Voices of Wisdom: Worship planners may invite elders from the assembly to share readings.  Possible readings are found in Appendix 1.


SONG OR SPECIAL MUSIC
An assembly song or special music may be offered.  At this time those affirming their baptism should move to the area of the font.

AFFIRMATION OF BAPTISM
The presiding minister addresses the assembly.
Joined to Christ in the waters of baptism,
we are clothed with God's mercy and forgiveness.
Let us give thanks for the gift of baptism.

Water may be poured into the font as the presiding minister gives thanks.
We give you thanks, O God,
for in the beginning your Spirit moved over the waters
and by your Word you created the world,
calling forth life in which you took delight.

When you led Israel from slavery and through the waters of the Red Sea,
your prophet Miriam rejoiced in song and dance for the freedom that you gave to her people.

Through the waters of birth, your Son was born of Mary
to be Immanuel, God with us.
Throughout his life, Jesus made water to be a sign of new life.
He promised the Samaritan woman at the well,
a spring of living water that would well up within her to eternal life.
And when a woman soothed his tired feet with her tears,
Jesus honored her gift of love and proclaimed her faithfulness.

We praise you for the gift of water that sustains our lives in so many ways.
Above all we praise you for the gift of new life through our baptism in Jesus Christ.
Shower us with your Spirit, and renew our lives with your forgiveness, grace, and love.
Amen

Presentation
The leader addresses the assembly with these or similar words.
Dear friends, we give thanks for the gift of baptism and for these women, who are making public affirmation of their baptism.

Those making affirmation may be presented by a friend or family member with these or other words:
I present name/s who desire to make public affirmation of their baptism.


The presiding minister may continue with prayer.
Let us pray.
Merciful God, we thank you for these sisters,
whom you have made your own by water and the Word in baptism.
We have been graced by their wisdom and seasoning.
We are touched by their knowledge and faith.
Pour out your Spirit upon them, that they may continue to dream dreams
and live lives that speak of your grace and saving power.
Uphold them in the gifts and promises of baptism,
and unite the hearts of all whom you have brought to new birth.
We ask this in the name of Christ.
Amen

Profession of Faith
The presiding minister addresses those making public affirmation of baptism. The assembly may stand and join in the responses.
Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.


Affirmation
The presiding minister addresses those making public affirmation of baptism.
You have made public profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
Each person responds:
I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.
The minister addresses the assembly.
Let us pray.
We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give us new birth, cleanse us from sin, and raise us to eternal life.

The blessing may be repeated for each person. The minister may lay both hands on the head of the person and say:
Stir up in name the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.
Amen.
OR
Father in heaven, for Jesus’ sake, stir up in name the gift of your Holy Spirit; confirm her faith, guide her life, empower her in her serving, give her patience in suffering, and bring her to everlasting life.
Amen.

Those making public affirmation stand and face the assembly. A representative of the congregation may address the assembly with these or other words.
Let us rejoice with these sisters in Christ.
We rejoice with you in the life of baptism.
Together we will give thanks and praise to God
and proclaim the good news to all the world.

Those who have affirmed their faith may be presented with a reminder of the ritual.  Some possibilities include:
·  Baptismal or water symbols such as shells, sea glass, candles or artwork.
·  Symbols of wisdom or initiation such as a staff, garland, crown of flowers, a cloak or shawl.
·  Shroud or kittel. A kittel is a traditional Jewish garment worn by a male at ceremonies marking life changes, at Passover, Yom Kippur finally at his burial.  Some Jewish croning ceremonies include the presentation of a kittel. The idea is similar to the notion of the Christian funeral pall reflecting the baptismal garment.
                                                                                                                    
CLOSING SONG

BLESSING AND SENDING

May the God of all graciousness guide you day by day, giving you what is needed. 
May you always travel with the one who is  +  the way, the truth, and the life.  
May the Spirit give you good companions to cheer your way
and a clear vision of that which God is calling you to do.

Amen

Portions of  this service are from the Evangelical Lutheran Book of Worship. Augsburg Fortress.
The Water Prayer was written by Heidi Rodrick-Schnaath.

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