There is such a symmetry in the texts for this week. We have just read and celebrated the Epiphany, about God's revealing Himself to the Gentiles. Now we are swept up in the story of the creation and Jesus' baptism. I love the images of water that are so prevalent in all of these readings.
I look at these scriptures and I recall my own baptismal vows. I was baptized on June 27, 1982. It was exactly one week before my twelfth birthday, and I went forward to the song Just As I Am. My twin sister also came forward, and we took the plunge together. I remember Harvey Porter, our peacher, and his Texas twang as he asked, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God?"
"Leslie, I know you do, and with that good confession, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for the remission of your sins."
I was not given, nor was I offered, the gift of the Holy Spirit. In my faith tradition, we struggled with the Holy Spirit, and we viewed the Holy Spirit as a tool God gave only for the purpose of growing the first century church. That, and the baptism of Jesus, of course.
Although I was in the presence of the Holy Spirit several times in the years following my baptism, He did not come upon me until much later in my life. When I had an openness in my life for the Holy Spirit, He came. I cannot say exactly when that was -- it was a gradual indwelling, or else it was so quiet that I did not notice.
But the Holy Spirit is definitely around these days, and I cannot imagine life any other way. That may sound strange, but I remember the darkness before, and even though life is still every bit as hard, His Truth is always present with me. I chose to die to myself on June 27, 1982, and I think maybe I finally understand what I chose. I chose to be a daughter of the King, and to walk with the strength of the Holy Spirit in this world. And I would choose it again. When I fully die to myself, then I can live up to my baptism. Maybe I will live long enough to see that.
Just as I am!
Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!