This homily was preached on Sunday morning (11.18.07) after three catechumens were received by Baptism and Chrismation.

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! What we have all been privileged to be a part of this morning is the culmination of the journey of these 3 lives to union with the Body of Christ. I say culmination of a journey because it certainly is not the end of their journey this morning, but rather a defining point for a journey that will continue for all of eternity. For a life in Christ, our decision to simply be followers of Christ is not enough in and of itself. We must confess that decision before men, as Christ commanded. And then, in the Mysteries of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, the grace of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us, and we are united to Christ. Those who were Baptized and Chrismated today, before our very eyes, the Spirit of God came down to dwell in them in a new and re-energizing way. A way made possible only in Christ—Who joined the creation (us) with the divine in His person. The Holy Spirit now comes down to make His abode in us—all of our sins and failings are burned away by the fire of divinity. All of our weaknesses, all of our faults, are joined to Christ. What was broken in Eden by the Fall is healed by Christ in Baptism and Chrismation—we’re made to be a new creation. Filled with the grace of the presence of God, and made able by that grace to live according to the commandments of Christ. What Christ calls us to by His life is impossible on our own, so He fills us with His life which then enables us to walk in the way that we should go. One thing that I’d like to call our attention to specifically this morning was a beautiful moment in this service. What God desires is for us to be in a right relationship with Him. And this healthy relationship with our Creator requires that there be no sins separating us from God. So Dustin (Spyridon), after deciding to enter into a relationship with Christ and to dedicate his life to God, he was submerged in the waters of Holy Baptism—being baptized into Christ and cleansed of all his sins. And then Joshonda and Raymond (Joanna and John), having made the same decision to follow after Christ in all things, they were instructed to kneel, and the prayer of forgiveness from the Mystery of Confession was prayed over them. And then the three were Chrismated—the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit. And when they stood there, side by side, the three of them—we were graced with the sight of three human beings who, for at least that moment, were entirely free from sin. That’s why they were immediately clothed in a pure white garment, and given a cross. We are cleansed of our sins and clothed in Christ in order to take up our cross and follow after our Saviour, as the Scriptures clearly reveal. And the beautiful image I enjoyed so much this morning was the sight of the three of them standing there in their white robes, cleansed and forgiven. One in Holy Baptism, the other two in Confession and Chrismation. And reflecting for a moment on the reality that Christ offers us this same cleansing of our sins continually. When we go for Confession and that prayer of forgiveness is read over us, we stand there as whole and as clean as we were when we were newly baptized. The Father of the Church even refer to Confession as a second Baptism—a constant renewal of our baptismal robes. A washing of our wedding garment to be again whole and white and pure. Spyridon and Joanna and John have set out on a new course in life that will be filled with trials and difficulties. The world and the devil want nothing more than to stop our ascent to Christ from happening. But they, and we, are continually offered outpourings of God’s grace and mercy through His Holy Church, to strengthen and encourage us on our way. And this morning we all have the encouraging sight of fallen, mortal human beings, standing pure and sinless before the Lord—calling us also to a rededication of our lives in Christ. May God grant many years to Spyridon, Joanna, and John—and now we’ll process inside for the Divine Liturgy, and our participation in the Broken Body and the Spilled Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the salvation of all the world. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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