Acts 19:1-7

"Baptism" - Year B

Amazing. They were disciples before they were baptized in Jesus' name. Apparently repentance is enough to be a disciple.

This is not to suggest that disciples don't grow and deepen their understanding, but there is no indication that they were "better" disciples than before. They did have a new experience to fold into their understanding but there is no dismissal of them as second-class disciples because they came late to Jesus' baptism. Presumably over the next months they learned even more than tongues and prophesy as they were invited by Paul to travel on with him (v. 9).

It will be helpful to focus on the issue of growth here rather than the hierarchy of military rank and measuring ourselves against one another or setting baptism against baptism.

This is also a hint for us about the persistence of Pentecost. What does it mean to speak in tongues and to prophesy? This brings back images of speaking and hearing in differing languages the wonders of G*D's presence (Acts 2).

Whenever we hear echoes of Pentecost we need to remember that the power to be present to very different people is always with us. We can also remember that disciples come in all shapes and sizes and understandings and are placed all along the continuum we know as "spiritual living." We can experience Pentecost again today - and tomorrow - from both sides. Sometimes we will be the speakers and sometimes the spoken to. In both cases we are to grow.

Don't let someone take your discipleship away because you don't yet measure up to their standards. Simply work at understanding and being understood in regard to experiences of G*D's wonderful way of including everyone in.

Again, imagine that - they were disciples before they were "really" baptized.



It has been noted that "After this John is mentioned no more in the New Testament. Here he gives way to Christ altogether."

In a sense a cycle has been completed. John baptized Jesus; Jesus' baptism baptized John's baptism. The last has become first. The one who came after takes precedence. So what forerunnering is Jesus doing? the church? you? Are we again back to announcing and preparing the way for the "Freedom of G*D on earth as it is in heaven"?

Another way to come at this is through alternative readings of verse 2a: "Did you receive the Holy Spirit (when) (after) you believed?"

How do you sense time moving in your own life? In the current life of the world around you?

Do you sense that whatever you have is already all you need, that when you formed your spiritual prejudices you wouldn't have to change?

Do you sense that you are still growing, even after a significant conversion and symbolic receiving of same (baptism), that when you formed your spiritual prejudices you entered into a life-time of relearning spiritual biases and instincts?

How do you talk about the before, during, and after of transformative times? The style of experiencing time separates folks as much as the content of their key events. We need as much translation of sequential non-verbals as we do of snapshot creeds.



Here we have a speaking in tongues that would tend to equate it with Pentecost. A difference is that this is an internal speaking, not a sharing of the good news to folks with different languages or cultures. This, in some sense, is a sign of assurance to those folks, like the rainbow to Noah, not an extension of a new covenant. A difficulty comes when a response to baptism becomes legislated as a norm. Different folks have different forms of assurance needed, given, and received.

Similar distinctions can be made with the issue of prophesying. If we can get "prophesying" out of the realm of "predicting", we can begin to see a parallel with praising and setting a vision of a preferred future. We can also see prophesying as an extension of "me" and unconcerned about the life context of "you".

"Speaking in tongues and prophesy" have some similarities, but also some differences from "speaking in different languages and praising".

This leads to the question of how bedrock a matter is baptism. Is it as uniform as some try to make it or is there room for a variety of experiences claimed as a baptism and an assortment of  responses to baptism? Where are the commonalities of "baptism" to be found and where is there room to appreciate a Holy Spirit that moves as the wind, unpredictably.



Who is it that is your fixed star, your anchored leg of a compass, that allows you to leave well enough in their hands while you pass into an interior region? Who will you trust to watch over your exploring and/or your dying with a formal or understood power of attorney?

It is important to have an Apollos or two or three in your life. Be sure to thank them as you travel on. They play the role of John the Baptist in ritualizing your leave-taking, of Barnabas the Encourager, of the attending saints, of G*D naming you Beloved, etc. We really can't do without our Apollos' without withering.



Creation moves from formless to formed, only to become the ground for new formation. Day by day lightness and darkness interplay.

Repentance called and responded to, follows this same process. This assertion calls us to look around: what light from today's repentance has come to guide us beyond repentances of old?

John's baptism unto repentance, Paul's baptism unto tongues and prophesy, Jesus' baptism unto belovedness, raises the question of what baptism through you is unto? Might it be a baptism unto peace?

Regardless of the baptism focus offered or age/understanding when one receives, there is an entry into the mystery of creation and creation beyond creation. Relax, enjoy, baptize.

- - -

have you received a holy spirit?
what is that you ask?
it is this says you
well ok says I
and off we go

what once we knew we knew
it is reduced to babbling
pretty and comforting
but babbling still
it is expanded to consequences
harsh and challenging
but consequences still

what once we knew we knew
bows its head to play its part
between the less and more

between the less and more
is less and more
than spirits holy or muddy
can contain without
breaking apart into a blessing
on light and dark
beginning again
moving beyond

have you received a holy spirit?
of course
does it measure up?
not now not ever
and you
have you been released
from a spirit holy
to arise once more?



In Mark, folks come to John for a baptism regarding repentance. Jesus' experience of Beloved-Pleasure seems to have been a bonus ("Wait! There's more!) that others didn't notice or receive.

Here, folks seem to be satisfied with John's baptism. Then, along comes Paul bringing Jesus' experience of Holy Spirit Assurance-of-Belovedness to them.

Between a movement of intentionally going out to receive (Mark) and an experience coming in, whether looked for or not (Acts), is the vitality of life.

When the two come together, prophecy that will result – both fulfillment of past prophecies and the setting out of new prophecies that address the current situation. (One does need to decide whether or not tongues and prophesy are related, sequential, or two different experiences. But whichever way you go, prophesy is still a key result of a revealed Spirit of Holy.)



Were you aware that disciples are waiting to be found?

The boundless that you are in touch with can draw them out of themselves and keep them journeying toward that which they sense but have not heard for themselves.

When a next step in their journey becomes clear, there is rejoicing - theirs and those they will share with. They will speak with one another in newly acquired revelatory language. They will speak with others in tones of ancient and future prophets claiming justice and mercy for outcast and the manger-poor.

This makes learning sound more delightful. Where are you listening for the boundless that your bonds may be loosened and new community formed? If you catch even a glimmer - follow.