CHAPTER 6: AN EVENTFUL MEETING
What's in a name?
This meeting was to be a bit different from the previous ones. As they entered the room, there seemed to be a strange hush over the people. As Manaheem entered, he saw Claressa already seated with some other women. He took his seat with the men a little way back from them.
At the start, after the opening prayer, Peter and John stood up and Peter spoke: "For those of you who were not with us eleven this afternoon, we have an announcement. We won't be seeing the Master appear anymore. He took the eleven of us to Bethany this afternoon and, after some final instructions, He was taken up into heaven."
John added: "It was the most beautiful thing. I wish you all could have been there. He just went straight up and then a cloud received Him as it were out of our sight."
"Before he left, "added Peter, "He told us not to leave Jerusalem yet, but to wait for the Father's promise, which is that we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now and that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon us."
The children were excited about Jesus' ascension and Ruth blurted out: "Wow! Did you really see Him go up?"
Barabbas scolded her for her outburst: "Now, Ruth, you children are supposed t' just listen, remember?"
But, Peter said, reassuringly, "That's alight, Barabbas. It's a natural curiosity, I guess, but, yes, we really saw Him go up and disappear into a cloud in the sky. Are there any more questions?"
Now, it was Barabbas' turn to ask a question. "Well, Peter, I was just wondering what He meant by the Holy Spirit."
"Oh," replied Peter, "Just before his death, he explained to us that he would have to go away, but he would ask the Father and the Father would give to us another helper to abide with us forever."
"He called Him the Spirit of Truth," added John, "and said that he dwelled with us but would be in us. I think he meant it would be a sort of Spiritual presence of Himself that would be with us forever."
"So," added Peter, "We must continue to meet here every evening. We must not miss a meeting, so as not to miss the coming of the Holy Spirit. "Does all of that answer your question, Barabbas?"
Barabbas scowled. "Uh-yes, it does. But I have another. Do you think it would be alright if I changed my name?"
"Why would you want to do that, Barabbas?"
"Because of my past. My notoriety is well known in town and I thought it might be better to change my name to something more Christian. After all, Barabbas means 'son of shame or confusion' and that certainly fit my former life. But now that I’ve given my life to the Master--"
“I think it’s a wonderful idea," said John. "Many of the Old Testament believers had their names changed to something more meaningful."
"Have you been baptized?" asked Peter.
"Well, no. I didn't realize it was important, but I’m willing to be if you require it."
"One of the things Jesus told us before he went up," continued Peter "was that we should make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us have a baptism and we'll baptize you and your household and any other new believers not yet baptized. How about next Sabbath afternoon? We'll all meet down by the Jordan. And, since baptism is a symbol of a new life, it would only be fitting that you adopt a new name at that time."
After the closing prayer, everyone was still standing around talking, so Manaheem thought he would take this chance to approach Claressa again. She was standing near the doorway talking to one of the women. He stood there for a minute, unnoticed, waiting for a break in the conversation. Finally, they finished talking and the other woman started moving away. Claressa, still not noticing Manaheem, started toward the door when she heard her name called. "Claressa"
"Oh, it's you, Manaheem. Greetings. How have you been?"
"Oh, fine, though missing you something fierce. Do you have a way home?"
"Well", she smiled, a teasing sort of smile. “I came with some of the other women and was going to go with them."
"Oh, Claressa, could I take you home?"
She smiled again, but this time it was a broad happy smile. "Certainly, Manaheem. I thought you'd never ask."
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