Tuesday, May 3, 2011

About Three Thousand Persons

“So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.” (Acts 2:41)

That’s my goal, or hope, or dream, to some day preside at a baptism for about 3,000 people.  Of course it wouldn’t be here, in St. Paul’s Church, because we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in at once.  And only taking them 300 or 400 at a time just wouldn’t do.  Or would it?  Presiding at the baptism of one person is a great privilege too.  Every baptism is a special event and it’s not, after all, about the presider, it’s about the baptized and God’s promise.

The promise of baptism, as expressed in our first lesson today from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is that by repentance and baptism comes forgiveness and the Holy Spirit.  I have written here many times about forgiveness, not so much about the Holy Spirit. 

I was asked recently about the word “ghost.” It came up frequently, even if you tried to avoid it, in a wedding that was televised.  So I explained that the word “ghost” is an old word that can also mean “spirit.”  So, that in the phrase “Holy Ghost” we mean “Holy Spirit.”

I was desperate to be asked about the Holy Spirit, but wasn’t, so I explain the Holy Spirit anyway. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and the gift of God’s Spirit is a promise by God to be present with us always.  No matter what we’re doing, no matter who we are, God will be ever present.

This, by the way, is how God is present with us in the breaking of bread, in the communion we celebrate Sunday morning (and other time).  All of us are welcome and have a place at the table.  There are no solo sacraments, every prayer, be it public or private is accompanied by God’s Holy Spirit.

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