Monday, May 16, 2005

four confirmations and a baptism

In the name of Jesus; amen.
There can be no better illustration of what Pentecost is about than what is about to take place in a few minutes when Alissa Marie is brought to the font to be drown in the waters of baptism and born anew of the Spirit of God. There is no better example of what Pentecost is about than having Billy Gullotta, Zachary Linsley, Matthew San Angelo, and Rachel Stone coming forward to reaffirm the promises of their baptism as they are confirmed.
I could sit down right now… and the Word of God would be proclaimed in those rituals that we are about to enact. My job is easy today because Alissa, Billy, Zach, Matthew, and Rachel are so clearly demonstrating what faith in real life is all about. My job is easy today because the Holy Spirit is speaking through these young people with such clarity that there can be no mistaking the message.
Pentecost, the day when we give thanks to God for sending us the Holy Spirit, is a day of baptism and remembering our baptisms. Pentecost, the day that God put his presence into us like fire, is a day of baptism. Thanks be to God.
And baptism is meant to burn in us like fire; fire that erupts right out of us igniting our whole selves and those around us. Alissa, your family is about to bring you to water that is meant to set you on fire and burn within you your whole life long.
It is the fire of God meant to root you in the Word of God: the Holy Scriptures, the Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.
It is the fire of God which is meant to blow through you like a mighty violent wind to all the places that you are meant to go.
It is the fire of God which is meant to wash you clean from sin and all that threatens to separate you from the love of God.
Alissa, your baptism is a proclamation of what God does to us; how God gets deep down into us and does not let us go.
Billy, Zach, Matt, and Rachel… this is what you are affirming today. The fire that was lit in you the day you were brought to the waters of your baptism is still burning in you. It is the fire of God that stirs in you a desire to seek wisdom and understanding of the things of God. It is the fire of God which offers you counsel and might as you grow in the world. It is the fire of God which brings you to knowing God, fearing God and finding joy in all of it.
This thing that you are doing today, this reaffirmation of your baptism, this confirmation of your faith in God, is fulfillment of what the prophet Joel wrote:
Acts 2:17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
2:18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
2:19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
2:20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.
2:21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
Billy, Zach, Matt, and Rachel what you are doing today is a proclamation of what God does to us; how God gets deep down into us and does not let us go.
These young people, these five souls define our life of faith because the fire of faith is lit through these waters and each time another person is brought to baptism or prompted to affirm their baptism the fire of faith burns brighter in the community of faith.
They are the Word of God today, the message we proclaim, because they remind us all of how God’s grace is active in each one of us. Alissa comes to this font today because her family has brought her here and they want her to know God and to grow in love for him.
And Billy, Zach, Matt, and Rachel are here because their families brought them to the font and encouraged them to grow with love for God.
God’s love and a desire to know God is meant to spread like wild fire through our hearts and into the hearts of others. It is meant to catch, not be contained. It is meant to explode out of us and affect others.
When the day of Pentecost first came the disciples were so filled with God’s love that it shot up out of them. And it made such a noise that a crowd gathered to see what was happening.
The Holy Spirit is not a gentle breeze, but a rush of violent wind that blows us into the world to be a proclamation of God’s grace and God’s love. It is meant to propel us through life with a burning to share what we have received, through baptism, with others.
Do not try to quench this fire in yourself or in others, let it power you like fuel for the life that God has given you.
Alissa, Billy, Zach, Matt, Rachel and all the rest of us gathered here, we should burn with God’s fire and God’s love and let it light up the world.

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