In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Not quite two weeks ago, we celebrated the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity. And now we gather to celebrate another of the Great Feasts commemorating the life of Christ—His Holy Baptism in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. Liturgically, these two Feasts have service structures that are entirely different than any other services in the Church. This is because, in the ancient Church, well into the first millennium of Christianity, Theophany and Nativity were celebrated together, as one Feast. It was not until relatively late that the two Feasts were separated and celebrated as we have now in the modern practice. The early Christians saw fit to celebrate these two Feasts as one because both events are Epiphanies. Both events constitute God’s revelation of Himself to the world. His birth in the stable is His initial revelation to the world—God is come from the heavens to earth to live and offer mankind salvation. His Holy Baptism inaugurates His public earthly ministry, and reveals Him as the chosen Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, come to bring salvation to the earth. It isn’t strange that the early Church put these two Feasts together, because that perfectly demonstrates a core teaching of the Christian Church—The saving work of Christ is one. That’s why in the Church we sometimes hear “There’s only one feast—Pascha, and all other feasts are only in relation to Pascha.” Or we’ll hear “There’s only one sacrament—Eucharist, and all other sacraments are in relation to the Eucharist.” Not meaning that there is literally only one feast or sacrament, but that all things are united for man’s salvation. The life, ministry, and saving work of Jesus Christ are one. Born in a cave and laid in a manger for our salvation, growing as a human child for our salvation, baptized in the River Jordan for our salvation, preaching/teaching/performing countless miracles for our salvation, dying/buried/rising triumphant on the 3rd day for our salvation. Our salvation is not contained in any one specific act of Christ. We can’t say, “God did this and now man can be saved.” The entire life of Christ—God becoming man, fulfilling all the prophecies, doing all that Christ did on the earth—this is our salvation. But, in fact, we can’t even simplify it that much. God didn’t abandon humanity from the time of the Fall until the Advent of Christ. Christ fulfills and completes God’s plan of salvation for mankind, a plan that was working ever since the Fall. Humanity was being prepared for Christ by the prophets, the Law, the Old Testament Scriptures, the Psalms. All that came before Christ was in preparation for God giving Himself to man in the fullest was possible—by becoming man. God’s plan for the salvation of mankind is one—from the Creation, to the Covenant with Abraham and his descendants, to the Law, and the Prophets—one plan fulfilled and completed in Christ. In the same way that God is one, and there is one plan for salvation, our salvation as unique human beings is one. We aren’t saved a little here and a little bit there. We aren’t saved all at once with absolutely nothing else to think about or do for the rest of our eternal existence. We’re saved by uniting ourselves to Christ. Salvation is the presence of God. Our life in Christ is our salvation. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”—this is salvation. And we do this every single day of our lives. We have the choice at every moment—to draw closer to Christ, or to move further away. In this journey of our life in Christ, in the never-ending journey to be more like Christ and closer to God, we’re given enormous assistance. Especially in the Sacraments. God became man and sanctified creation—material creation can now be a conduit for the very Grace of God. We’re united to Christ in Baptism and Chrismation. We’re united to Christ in Communion and Confession. We’re united to Christ in our daily prayer and struggles to live a godly life. We have innumerable ways provided to approach Christ—and every approach is essential for our salvation. Every movement of our soul’s, every movement of our lives, is one fluid motion—either directed to Christ, or directed to ourselves. The entire history of God’s revelation to mankind is for our salvation. The life of Christ is for our salvation. And our lives are given to us that we might choose to spend eternity with God. Glory to He who deigned to be Baptized by John in the Jordan for our salvation, Christ our true God, together with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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