The short season of Advent is rich in liturgy and text. The setting and worship space call us to the season of anticipation in a variety of ways. One way to engage with the season is to fill the baptismal font with objects that call out themes in the day’s scripture readings. (These objects could also be set to the side of the font, on a stand, if replacing the water in the font is not desired.) Placing something new in the baptismal font engages lesser-used senses like smell and touch, and brings attention to the lectionary readings in a new way.
|Mark 13:24-37: “Keep alert”||Lit candles|
|Isaiah 40:1-11: “In the wilderness”
Mark 1:1-8: John the Baptist
|Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11: “A garland instead of ashes”||Pine needles|
|2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16: “A house of cedar”
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26: “God the rock of my salvation”
|Cedar chips or stones|
Texts from the season of Advent, Year B:
* 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
* Isaiah 40:1-11
* Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
* Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
* Mark 1:1-8
* Mark 13:24-37
Liturgical elements involved:
* Baptismal font
* Advent, but could be expanded for other seasons
– baptismal font, or a basket/bowl on a stand at the entrance
– bowl for water
– a few candles (tea lights or votives)
– pine needles (stripped from a garland or cutting)
– cedar chips (such as used for landscaping — and the fresher the better) or smooth stones
– Whoever will set up the font
– Pastor or preacher
1. Consider your context. How often is the baptismal font used?
– If people frequently enter the sanctuary and dip their fingers in the font, removing all the water from it will be rather jarring. A better solution might be to set a basket or bowl on the stand next to the font. Alternatively, the baptismal font could be filled with sand, needles, cedar chips, and so on and then have a smaller bowl of water laid inside that.
2. Consider how you will introduce the change.
– There could be a short line in the bulletin noting the object of the week and the Scripture it connects to.
– The pastor or preacher could mention the object during the sermon, even if the sermon is not on the related text.
– Mention of the object could be made during the Prayers of the People. For example:
God of comfort, you come into the world seeking to free us from bondage.
Where we have been marked with ashes, you have longed to give us a garland of joy.
– After the first week, worshippers should be invited to touch the objects in the font if they so choose.
3. Gather supplies.
Consider involving the congregation: are there kids who would enjoy lighting the candles? Is there an interior design expert who might have lovely candles or smooth stones to contribute? How about a construction contractor who has access to sand and cedar chips?
Mention of the change in the font should be made each week; see #2 in Preparation.