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Sermon Sunday May 5, 2024 The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lessons Acts 10:44-48
Psalm 98
1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Amen.
Methodist Bishop Will Willimon tells a story of baptism.
Once upon a time I went out to a small rural church to
baptize a twelve-year-old boy whom a pastor had been
instructing in the faith. I was happy to oblige until the pastor
said, “Jeremy very much wants to be immersed. Can you do
“Er, uh, sure. I can do that,” I said, unwilling to admit that I
had rarely baptized anyone by immersion.
I arrived at the church that Sunday morning, and sure
enough, there was the pastor standing on the front steps of
the little church with a small boy.
“Jeremy, this is the bishop,” the pastor said proudly. “It’s an
honor for you to be baptized by the bishop.”

Young Jeremy looked me over and said only, “They tell me
you don’t do many of these. I’d feel better if we had a run-
through beforehand.”
“That was just what I was going to suggest,” I said.
We went into the church’s fellowship hall where the pastor
showed me their newly purchased font, dressed up by a
carpenter in the congregation, surrounded by pots of
flowers. Jeremy said, “After you say the words, then you
take my hand and lead me up these steps, and do you want
me to take off my socks?”
“Er, uh, you can leave them on if you want,” I said.
Well, we had a wonderful service that Sunday. I preached on
baptism, the choir sang a baptismal anthem, then the whole
congregation recessed into the fellowship hall and gathered
around the font. I went through the baptismal ritual. Then I
asked Jeremy if he had anything to say to the congregation
before his baptism.
“Yes, I do. I just want to say to all of you that I’m here today
because of you. When my parents got divorced, I thought
my world was over. But you stood by me. You told me the
stories about Jesus. And I just want to say to you today

thanks for what you did for me. I intend to make you proud
as I’m going to try to live my life the way Jesus wants.”
Though I’m now weeping profusely (Jeremy asked, as I led
him up the steps into the pool, “Are you going to be OK?”),
I baptized Jeremy and the church sang a great “Hallelujah!”
So, what are we celebrating today? We’ve all heard about
what a sacrament is, and especially about the sacrament of
Baptism. Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us
as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, and
inheritors of the kingdom of God. We have the outward and
visible sign of Baptism which is part of being a sacrament. It
is the water b\in which the person is baptized in the Name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And the
inward and spiritual grace of Baptism is union with Christ in
his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family, new life
in the Holy Spirit, and repentance, or turning to God.
We don’t immerse in the Episcopal Church, and there have
been many debates about immersion vs. affusion (or
pouring) vs. aspersion (sprinkling). We’re not going to get
into the pros and cons of that today! Suffice it to say that we
have all the elements!

But what we are celebrating today with the Baptism of
Mirela is that the Christian community of St. Paul’s
Episcopal Church is welcoming her into Christ’s
Community, to become a member of Christ’s Body, to lean
into the love of Jesus.
That is why we allow the baptism of children who are not
capable yet of making the decision to follow Jesus or not.
Each and every one of us makes that decision at some point
in our lives, and then we keep making that decision on a
daily basis. No, this day is about welcoming Mirela Kathryn
as a child of God into God’s community.
And make no mistake about it, each and every one of us is
responsible for welcoming Mirela into the Body of Christ
and helping her to grow in the love of God. Baptism is not
an individual sport! It is a team sport! We are here to
support Hillary and David, Mirela’ s godparents, and
Mirela’s family on Mirela’s journey of faith, love, and life in
Today’s lesson from the Acts of the Apostles tells about
Peter meeting with the household of the Roman centurion,
Cornelius. Peter and Cornelius were brought together by the
Holy Spirit directing Peter to Cornelius, and Cornelius

searching for Peter. As Peter is telling Cornelius and his
household about Jesus, the Holy Spirit rushes in and
basically upsets Peter and his story! Cornelius was a non-
Jew, a Gentile. Peter had been brought up to believe that
entering into the house of a Gentile was just not something
that he was to do as a devout Jew. It was unheard of! But,
Peter was there reluctantly. But the Holy Spirit upset the
apple cart, appearing most unexpectedly, stretching Peter’s
beliefs about boundaries and who is acceptable to God.
Then, once Peter got a bit of his composure back, he went
ahead and baptized Cornelius entire household who had
been listening to him, in the Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. I guess we are to expect
the unexpected with the Holy Spirit who is such a part of our
baptismal lives.
And in today’s Gospel from John, Jesus tells us that we are
to love one another as he has loved us, and because of this
we are to bear fruit—to bear fruit that will last! Right now,
Mirela is a little tree, but I imagine that she has already
produced a lot of fruit. She brings much joy and love to her
parents, David and Hillary, and to the rest of her family and
friends. She brings much happiness and liveliness to the

members of this church, who love to see her arrive and be a
part of us on a Sunday morning!
But because she will now be part of this community in
Christ, she will grow to be a large tree, a tree of life, a giving
tree. She will be a giving tree that bears much fruit, fruit that
will last for the world to see.
And Mirela will grow in God’s love because of each and
every one of us! Just like the congregation that fostered
Jeremy did, let us say Hallelujah to celebrate her Baptism!