This service was originally written for a small, intimate, lutheran family ritual of baptismal affirmation. Adaptations for use in congregational settings are welcome. If making changes, please include citation as “adapted from M Barclay, enfleshed.”
[person 1] Beloveds, we gather together this day to affirm the baptism of [terms of affection and relationship – sibling, daughter, father, friend, etc, beloved one], [full name].
Today, we remember that baptism is a means of God’s grace through which we recognize and claim one another as kin in the family of Christ. We are taken into the community of God, nurtured in faith and justice, and eternally embraced as a child of the Divine, one among the many in the body of Christ. These promises of God, revealed through the ritual of baptism, are not conditionally dependent on the declarations of religious leaders, church teachings, or any other institutional authority. Though we have and do betray one another, though the church has turned away or turned against many whom it has baptized, especially in the queer and trans community, and though we know we are still growing in love, our baptism reminds us of the love that holds us with grace, empowers us in repentance and reconciliation, and makes possible the healing and mending of the world, our relations with earth, others, and our own bodies.
[person 2 ] Through the waters of the earth, holy and blessed by the Creator of life, you, [name], were welcomed and baptized as an infant into the lineage of Christ. At that time, [parents/guardians/language as needed] presented you for baptism with love, deep and abiding, placing you in the care of the community and the love of God that has nurtured your becoming. This grace has held you through transitions of many kinds, including [edit as needed – a new name and new identity], symbols of the you that has always been with us, making yourself known all along. On this day, as we gather again to affirm that the grace and love that once claimed you, still claims you today, consistently and with renewed confirmation that your belovedly trans being, body, and personhood have been, are, and will always be held and blessed by God’s original grace.
Now, these years later, we who have loved you, learned from you, grown with you, and transformed in our own ways, as your siblings [in family] and in Christ, embrace the honor of presenting you for reaffirmation of baptism.
In so doing, we make these promises to you, renewed in light of your transition and refined by love and time:
[individuals/siblings/chosen or bio family may take turns saying a line]
We honor who you are and who God has created you to be. We love the you we have known since your birth. We love the you we are coming to know and the you that you will yet become.
We promise to always care for you and claim you as our kin.
We promise to celebrate your identities and communities as beloved in the eyes of God, to be your place of harbor when the world is cruel, and to grow in our own understanding and practices of loving you.
We promise to live in witness to the faith we profess by being advocates of God’s love, seekers of God’s justice, and companions to all who long for the transformation of the world.
We promise to encourage you in your own faith, to be a champion of your courage and commitment to justice, to support your spiritual growth as it blooms and blossoms. We entrust you in the care of the Spirit.
[parents/siblings/chosen others pray] Holy One, for the gift of [name] and this [family/community] for the extended web of care, connection, and community that enables us, and for the grace of God woven through this love, we give thanks. May the Spirit of Christ embolden us as we seek to be faithful to our baptismal covenants and the freedom of new life. May it be so.
PROFESSION OF FAITH
[individual being affirmed] Today, I desire to re-affirm my covenant with the Sacred in the company of you, [family in birth and new birth – or other community], and among the cloud of saints who gather in witness: prophets of trans glory and survival, teachers of queer love and compassion, ancestors in family and justice, seekers of Spirit across the ages. I remember that baptism is a lineage by which I have long been claimed – one of faith in a world that can be just, in a love that wishes for all of us to thrive, in Christ who brings new life even where we thought there could only be death.
In honoring the truths of my past, the freedom of new life, and the becoming yet before me…
In declaring myself before God and my family as [name], I remember that I was baptized into God’s eternal family and that God has known me, loved me, and held me without wavering.
In so doing, I profess my faith anew:
I renounce allegiances to evil, to systems of dominance and oppression, to patterns that betray life among my neighbors. I will do my part to resist forces of destruction and all powers that prohibit God’s flourishing of life. I commit to examining my own heart, to self-reflection and pursuit of love’s constant unfolding.
I confess my belief in God the Creator, Christ the Redeemer, Spirit the Sustainer. I believe in Divine forgiveness, a love that cannot be severed by any force, and the promises of resurrection that keep aliveness among us. I believe in the communion of saints and trust in community to guide, support, and hold me accountable to the beliefs I profess. With God’s help, I will be faithful to my baptism in practicing solidarity with my neighbors, championing the freedom of all people and creations, and seeking to incarnate God’s love in all my endeavors.
[pastor or other facilitator] (perhaps engaging with a bowl of water throughout)
Water reminds us of new life in Christ. It is a symbol of God’s grace that changes us. Transforms us. Draws us more deeply into our truest selves that we might love one another fully and freely. As [name] remembers the embrace of [her/their/his] baptism, as [she/they/he] is affirmed in the promises of God experienced through baptism, and as we each remember our own place of belovedness in the whole of creation – we turn to water.
These waters. The waters of baptism…
They are the same waters from which God drew forth all life.
They are the same waters through which God delivered Their people from enslavement in Egypt.
They are the same waters that baptized the prophet John, the teacher Jesus, and the many who have felt and heard the call of God toward a new way of life, one of forgiveness and restoration, joy and companionship, and love that is rich and abiding.
These waters hold ancient, lasting, and reviving grace.
We remember the wisdom of our indigenous siblings, “water is life.”
We remember that our baptismal commitments call us to care for and protect this precious resource.
Through these waters, ancient and still flowing, you, [name], are affirmed in God’s love, assured of your place in the body of Christ, and encouraged to continue your spiritual journey with the solidarity of this family and all who seek to live in love.
Spirit of Christ, your love never fails us. Even when we cannot believe it, imagine it, feel it, or recognize it around us – your love is always with us. May we each and all grow in the practice of this love. May courage and compassion call us into lasting solidarity with all our siblings and neighbors to whom your love binds us forever. Amen.