Sunday, February 1, 2009

Baptismal Faux Pas

Icy Sunset 31 Jan 2009

Well, just a little story so my posterity can know that I mess up some times - big time. A young single adult I've known for 4 years agreed to be baptized and I was asked by the missionaries to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. The baptism was Saturday the 31st of January, 2009 at 11:30a. I was excited. Friday night the missionaries called and said the YSA had postponed her baptism but that a family, consisting of a mother, an 11 year old daughter and a nine year old son were being baptized and would I still want to give the talk. It was too late to call them back by the time I got the message but during the night, lying in bed, the text of the talk came to me and I knew what the answer would be in the morning. The missionaries were happy to have me speak so I went about writing the talk Saturday morning.

The theme of the talk was the "GIFT" of the Holy Ghost and why it was so great a gift and how we should desire for and seek happiness with the gift. As part of the set up, I would ask the young boy what he liked about birthdays (trying to get the answer "presents"). Then I would ask him if he'd ever gotten any really good gifts like a gameboy or a walkman.

The baptism was a spiritual feast. I suppose that happens most often when you are ready to be fed, so maybe preparing the talk helped me be in the mood, in any case the spirit was quite strong and it was a moving experience. As I approached the pulpit emotions nearly overcame me. I apologized and by doing so almost immediately got "off script." It was ok, I knew the material well and felt confident enough.

When I got to the part about birthday presents, I felt a little connection with the heretofor unknown family and looked at Aaron and asked if he'd ever gotten a really great present for his birthday like a playboy or a walkman and continued on. Soon there was audible laughter in the audience and knowing something had gone wrong I mentally reviewed what had happened and realized I'd said "playboy" instead of "gameboy." What must his mother be thinking?

I looked up at the audience, about 50 people, and said, "for those of you who don't know, a playboy is a cross between a play station and a gameboy. Not to worry, you all have plenty of time to repent before the sacrament is served tomorrow." That seemed to quell the laughter and the rest of the talk went well.

Just wanted you all to know I have embarassing moments too. So, if something embarassing ever happens to you - don't worry - you'll survive.

Attached is the transcript of the talk, just in case you wanted to read it or have a talk coming up soon on the Holy Ghost.

June, Hailey, and Aaron – it is an honor to be here with you today at this exciting event. I was baptized 45 years ago and still remember everything about it. But more so, I remember the next day when my father confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and invited me to receive the Holy Ghost. I can close my eyes and feel his hands on my head and the hands of others who stood with him. Most of all I can still feel the sudden warmth and peace that flowed into me when he said the words, “receive the Holy Ghost.” I was only 8 years old but knew then, and still know now that it was a bid deal, an important event, a defining moment in my life.

Aaron, you’re already nine so you’ve lived about 13% more life than I had at baptism so you’ll be able to appreciate it that much more and Hailey you are practically an adult compared to me so the significance of this event will certainly not be lost on you. And June – well, we won’t even go there!

Aaron, what’s the best part about birthdays? If the best part is getting gifts, then this birthday, and today truly is a birthday for you three, is no different. A prophet of the Lord, Wilford Woodruff, referred to the Holy Ghost as, “the greatest gift anyone can receive in (this life).” If you believe that there are living prophets on the earth and they speak the words of God, then you now believe that you are soon to receive the best gift you could ever get.

Now each of you has received some pretty nice gifts in life. Aaron, maybe a gameboy or walkman, Hailey maybe a real nice dress or a puppy, June – perhaps a child. Think for a minute about what made these gifts so special, so great. What it really comes down to is these gifts were so great because you wanted them and you liked them. If the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we can receive in this life, then it must be the thing we want and like the most. How can that be?

Well, let’s think about some things in life and see if we can figure out why the Holy Ghost is such a great gift. Hailey, sometimes people, even so called friends, aren’t very nice to us. Have you ever been very sad because someone was mean to you? How great a gift would it be if in that moment your best friend sat down beside you, cried with you, listened to you, hugged you and made you feel good, made you feel loved, made you feel all better? Would that be a great gift? One of the names of the Holy Ghost is “The Comforter,” (John 16:7) because he can do just that. Aaron, have you ever done all your homework in a class, studied for the test and then seemed to forget everything when you started taking it? How great a gift would it be if right at that moment the teacher said, “you can make a life line call,” and you could call a friend who knew all the answers? Would that be a great gift? One of the things we know about the Holy Ghost is that he, “teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance (see John 14:26).” That is a pretty great gift. June, have you ever had a moment when you just didn’t know what to do and wished that someone would just tell you the right thing to do? The Holy Ghost will show us all things that we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:5). Now that is a pretty great gift isn’t it?! In fact, the Holy Ghost will do all this and more. Have you ever been unhappy? The Holy Ghost will “fill our soul(s) with joy (see D&C 11:13). Have you ever been confused and wondered who’s telling the truth? By the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things (see Moro. 10:5).

Is it starting to make sense why the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we can ever receive in this life? Are you starting to feel like you want to have the Holy Ghost? Like you want this gift?

Two quick things about having this great gift. Like any other gift, it can’t be great if we don’t open it and figure out how to use it and then play with it all the time. That’s what makes gifts great. So after you get the Holy Ghost, you’ve got to figure out how to have the Holy Ghost in your life. Don’t get all worried about that. Aaron I’m sure you’ve figured out how to play some pretty hard video games – it just takes time and practice and interest and that’s just what it’s going to take with the Holy Ghost.

The other thing is – remember that the Holy Ghost can only stay with us when we live in a way that invites him into our life. Our desire to have him in our life will be shown by how we live. He can only be with us when we want him to be with us and he’ll know if we want him by how we are living. In other words, he can only be with us when we are trying our hardest to keep the promises we’ve made to God today by getting baptized.

One lady said after she received the Holy Ghost, “I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost settle upon me with greater intensity than I had ever felt before. He was like an old friend who had guided me in the past but now had come to stay.”

My hope and prayer for you, and for all the rest of us who are here today, is that you may receive the Holy Ghost tomorrow and that he will come to stay so that he will be the greatest gift you will ever receive in this life and bring you peace, comfort, direction, answers, light, love and everything else you need in this life to have joy, which is why we are here.