Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Baptism: Commitment to a New Cause

Rev. Abraham Kuruvilla

Princeton Theological Seminary

17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Recently when I was taking a VBS class at a Church, a father and his daughter approached me and asked me to pray for the daughter by placing my hands on the daughter's head. The daughter was going to begin her new career in education and this spiritual gesture was one of seeking blessings. At this moment, as I have done many times before , I wondered “Who am I”, or am I worthy for God to use me so that the blessings should be imparted with the imposition of my hands. Imposition of hands and anointing with holy oil is done in Baptism as the confirmation of receiving the Holy Spirit. Rather than thinking that the Holy Spirit is given through symbolic gestures, we must understand these ceremonial acts as the expression of Divine intervention. God is at work, and it is God, out of His grace and mercy, who freely gives the Holy spirit. Simon misunderstood it as some sort of sorcery he was familiar with  (vs 22,24).

The struggle was between his spirit and the Holy Spirit. Simon the sorcerer thought the gift of the Holy Spirit was an ability (vs 18-20) that could be used to achieve his motives in life. However, for the disciples it was their availability, or in other words their surrender to God, rather than their ability, that allowed them to receive the Holy Spirit.

Ability is something that I am capable of. Ability is an act in which I am in the driver's seat, calling the shots, and doing what I deem right. However, availability is both an active as well as passive state. When we give ourselves fully to God we are active. But afterwards it is His game plan, His strategy, and His script. We are not in the driver's seat, rather it is Christ. It is so ironic that baptism has been reduced to an avenue of discord, and disunity rather than love and unity. We debate because, in our ability, we do not find it rational enough to be believe in. We rely on our ability to make things happen rather than our availability of letting things happen by God in His grace. It is the sorcery of the spirit, our human spirit. Are we still under the spell of this sorcery? Let us recognize that the Holy spirit is working in and through us and make ourselves available so that we become channels of Grace to the world.


Lord may my money perish so that I'll cherish only you
Lord may my wickedness give way so that I'll give in to you
Lord may my rationality be made irrational so that I’ll be foolish enough to be wise in you.

“God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability.”  Neal A. Maxwell

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