Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Baptism Today

We had two baptisms at church today, one a 9 year old girl and one a friend of mine whose husband has been a church member his whole life. My friend M. is from the Philippines and is one of the sweetest, most sincere people I know.

I was asked to participate in the meeting by giving a talk about the Holy Ghost. In our church, baptism by immersion is followed by priesthood holders laying their hands on the head of the person baptized to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Often, as in this case, baptisms are held on Saturday, then the laying on of hands is done the following Sunday during worship services.

Now, I find writing and giving talks rather challenging, so I have decided that since I went to all that work I will post my talk here in case anyone would like to read it!

In baptism, we covenant with the Lord to keep his commandments and to take his name upon us. Baptism goes hand in hand with another sacred ordinance. Tomorrow, Melchizedek Priesthood holders will lay their hands on the heads of S. and M. They will confirm them as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and will bestow upon them the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
S. and M., each of you have already experienced the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. You have been taught the gospel, the truths about who we are as children of God, and what our purpose is here on Earth. You have studied the scriptures, which contain the word of God. As you have done these things, the Holy Ghgost has witnessed to you that the things you have been taught and the things you have read are true, and that they are of God.
The witness of the Holy Ghost has given you the confidence to move forward and take the step of Baptism. Now you are prepared to receive an even greater gift, and that is the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Can you imagine for a minute what it might have been like to live during the time of Jesus, to be one of his disciples? What a blessing it would have been to feel of his love, to receive his counsel and guidance for your specific needs.
Near the end of his mortal life, Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them without help. In John chapter 14 verse 16 he said to them: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever."
This "other comforter" is the Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, we are privileged to have the constant companionship and help of a member of the Godhead. We may benefit from this companionship just as the disciples of Jesus benefited from his companionship during his earthly ministry.
How can the Holy Ghost help us? The Holy Ghost can perform many roles. The Holy Ghost can act as a cleansing agent to purify us from sin. Sometimes the Holy Ghost is described as a fire, a fire that can burn away the impurities in us and make us more pure, more Holy, more like God. The Holy Ghost can help us to better understand the Gospel. He can help us remember truths we have learned in the past, and can help us to gain new understanding as we read the scriptures, as we ponder what we have read, and as we pray.
The Holy Ghost can warn us of danger, both physical and spiritual. The Holy Ghost can also guide us in our daily interactions with our families and the people around us. He can help us to create a spirit of love in our homes, if we will listen to and follow his promptions. He can help us wherever we go and whatever our needs may be: in school, at work, at home. We can pray to be able to feel and understand the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We should live our lives in such a way that we are worthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost. We can do this by keeping the commandments, repenting when we need to , and staying close to God through prayer and reading our scriptures. If we do these things he will be with us always, to teach us, to guide us, to comfort us, and to bring into our hearts the love of God.

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