Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pentecost and Baptism-the gift of the Spirit

Every year my husband has wanted us to have a party at Pentecost. The gift of the Spirit and the beginning of the Church is surely a good reason to get friends together to celebrate, isn't it?

But it has never happened. Until this year! But this year, we have even more reasons to celebrate. All three of our children will be baptized this Pentecost Sunday. And so my husband will get his Pentecost Party with family, godparents, and friends in attendance and balloons, hoagies and cake too.

Having learned that Pentecost was a traditional time for baptisms to occur in the early church, I have been contemplating the ties between the two.

Ephesians 4 links them explicitly:
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

On Pentecost, we remember the disciples being anointed with the Spirit. It was the same Spirit who moved in the beginnings of creation; the same Spirit who anointed Christ at His own Baptism; the same Spirit who brings us to new life; and the same Spirit in whom we are "sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Indeed, "over all and through all and in all."

As I read through the Baptismal prayers in the BCP that we as parents and a congregation will say together for my sweet ones, I am brought to tears in humility and fear. A good humility and fear. What an awesome responsibility it is to bring up the newly baptized into the church. We could not do it alone, or even as a Church, without the Spirit. And so we pray, ask, petition, beg,

"Sustain our children, O Lord in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, and spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works." (BCP 308).

Will you also join me in this prayer for my sweet ones and for all who will be brought into the Family of the Church this Pentecost?

I have also copied the Seven-fold Prayer for Baptismal Candidates (BCP p.305) onto a little card to keep with me so that in quiet moments I may return to it to pray for my children and in changing the them to me, to pray it for myself, as well.

Deliver them, O Lord, from the way of sin and death.
Open their hearts to your grace and truth.
Fill them with your holy and life-giving Spirit.
Keep them in the faith and communion of your holy Church.
Teach them to love others in the power of the Spirit.
Send them into the world in witness to your love.
Bring them to the fullness of your peace and glory.

As parents we can become consumed with the rearing of our children, the everyday tasks to care for them and the responsibility to raise them in the truth of the Gospel. Yet these prayers place the emphasis on God's power, not our own. As David DeSilva writes in Sacramental Life-Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer:

"the form of these prayers emphasizes God's actions on our behalf, not only at baptism, but throughout our lives as disciples. These petitions, like so many collects and other prayers in the BCP, proclaim our complete dependence on God for progress in discipleship and service. The rhythm of the verbs, falling on the strong beat of every petition, drums the action of God into our heats and invites us to become more and more open to these ongoing actions of God on our behalf, delivering, opening, filling, keeping teaching, sending, and through all these combined, bringing us ever nearer our heavenly destiny. The more we return to these prayers, the more we invite these actions of God to become the rhythm of our lives, the cadence with which we fall increasingly in step each new day." (p. 69)

May these prayers be all of ours this Pentecost Season.

This post is part of the Carnival of the Church Year for Pentecost hosted at Homemaking through the Church Year! Thank you, Jessica!

Welcome to those visiting from the Carnival of the Church Year: Pentecost. I look forward to reading all of the posts assembled. It is a great encouragement to know that all over our country and the world, this Sunday we celebrate the Gift of the Spirit as "one body [through] one Spirit... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all."


Amy said...

How exciting! I love Baptisms and cry at every single one I attend. Wish I could be there!

Amy said...

Thanks Amy! I don't think I'll make it through the service without tears either! I hope they all cooperate!

Karyn Kuniyuki said...

I came across this post through a google search as I was hunting for something meaningful to write on my son's cake. We too are having our son baptized tomorrow, such a powerful event this will be for our families, my prayers will include you and yours tomorrow, enjoy the day! God Bless!


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