"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
Janet Peterman presents a variety of healing and comforting rituals that can be used in situations that are likely to be encountered in congregations but yet are not typically treated in standard liturgies. Peterman offers her reflections on the significance of rituals and discusses new rituals. She includes a broad spectrum of rituals for personal use, for life in the home or at church, for use in the wider community, or for help in leading to transformation. She concludes by describing a seven-step process for creating new rituals and suggests ways to adapt existing worship materials for use in new settings. This much-needed resource will help pastors and lay leaders develop their own skills and insights for creating liturgies and rituals that provide relief, healing, and support for those in congregations who are faced with critical and life-altering situations.
Janet S. Peterman served as pastor of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia for more than twenty years. She holds an MDiv degree from Harvard Divinity School. She is the recipient of a sabbatical grant for church professional leaders from the Louisville Institute and two grants from the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith.