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January 28, 2018: "Do You Still Feel the Holy Spirit from Your Baptism?"

by Scott Minos

I recently had the fortunate timing to attend services at All Souls, which is my spiritual home when I am not at my other home in Florida, on the feast of our Lord’s Baptism. Father Jadon’s profound homily that morning stirred up some wonderful memories.

In 2000, I traveled to rural East Africa to install solar power projects. At the end of the exhausting and exhilarating five-week trip, I attended Sunday services at the Anglican cathedral in Kampala, Uganda. The imposing sanctuary was filled with tropical flowers that waved gently in the warm air, parishioners arrived in colorful and elaborate clothing, and there was joyful dancing and music. All of this pomp was because the Archbishop was going to baptize five adults and two babies.
While in many respects the baptism service closely resembled our own, I was impressed by how much more seriously the baptisms were conducted. After the parents and sponsors obediently agreed to uphold their duties, the Archbishop stopped and interjected in a stern voice: “I do not want you to say these things because a book tells you to. I want you to mean it and remember the vows you made here!” Then, after gently pouring water on the heads of the newly baptized adults, he grabbed their shoulders and shook them somewhat fiercely, exclaiming, “I want you to feel the Holy Spirit!”

Then the Archbishop turned to the congregation and said, “You, too, must also be mindful of your responsibilities for all those here, and to remember your own baptismal vows. Do you all still feel the Holy Spirit from your baptism?” He scanned the room like a loving but admonishing teacher. “Do you?,” he repeated over and over.

It was, and is, a fitting question—one that challenged me. It brought to mind my own confirmation, when the late Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon delivered a slight slap to my face after I reaffirmed my baptismal vows as an adult. She said it was meant to be startling, so I would not forget. Clearly, I have not forgotten!

In his homily, Father Jadon talked about St. Mark’s account of Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan, and how a tremendous light descended and the heavens opened up. It must have been unforgettable. Perhaps our baptism is meant to be unforgettable, too, as well as solemn. After all, the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives should be life-changing.

Last Published: January 25, 2018 2:56 PM
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