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!

Following our baptism of infant Josiah just a few short weeks ago, we now have the great opportunity to bring 5 new members into the fullness of communion with the Orthodox Christian Church. Catechumens are certainly a part of the Church [if a Catechumen reposed, for instance, they are given a full Church burial service, just like any member of the Church], but after Chrismation, these 5 are now able to fully participate in every aspect of Orthodox Christian life. Now that Nicholas, Bredan, Anna, Finnian, and Engratia are Chrismated, they take their place fully as members of the Body of Christ. This great grace comes with gifts, but it also comes with responsibility; responsibility for our gifts, and responsibility to other members of the Body, and to God.

When we’re filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Chrismation [“the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”], then we’re filled with the potential for the spiritual gifts that God wants us to have. We say potential because we can always refuse our gifts, or choose not to use them. St. Paul gives us several lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and among them he includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, leadership, teaching, preaching, compassion, working miracles, knowledge, faith. We discover our spiritual gifts by living the Christian life—prayer, ascetic life, following the commandments of Christ, confession, spiritual guidance—the usual spiritual disciplines of the Church. We also use common sense (i.e. what are we “good” at), and seek how can this be done to the glory of God.

Not only are we given spiritual gifts by the descent of the Holy Spirit at our Chrismations [a topic very popular to discuss], but we also take on great responsibilities. Obviously, the responsibility to search out and discern our gifts, and use them in Christ’s Body. We also bear a great responsibility before God—we call ourselves by His Name, Orthodox Christians. We identify ourselves with Christ, so how we live, what we say, how we act, where we go, what we do, all of these things are seen by the world, and reflect not only on ourselves, but on God, and on the Church. In that same vein is our responsibility to people not in the Church—they see us, and what type of example, what type of witness do they see? We bear, to a large degree, the weight of the impressions we make. Are we a scandal to the Gospel of Christ? Or do we present Christ to the people we come into contact with each day?

And finally, what I really want us to hear as a local community of the Orthodox Church (all of the other things I’ve mentioned we’ve talked about before)—as Orthodox Christians we bear a great responsibility before other members of the Church [what do they see in us], and for the other members of the Church. St. Paul writes, in Romans (12:5), “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” He also wrote to the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 12:25), “there should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” As the Church, we’re a family in Christ, and even more intimately, a body. As members of one another, we all have to do our part for body to function properly. And when even one of us is struggling, it has an effect on the entire body. When we’re upset with another member, the Body is damaged. When we’re not present to worship with the other members, then one part of the Body is missing, and the rest of the members truly miss the one whose not there.

Godparents and their godchildren especially are called to have a special relationship within the Body of Christ. This is particularly pertinent not only this morning, but for all of who are either godparents or godchildren (basically all of us). For the role of the godparent, our dean, Fr. Joseph Fester, writes: “Whether it be an adult godparent or a godparent for a child, the role is no different. The godparent is there to encourage the newly received. They are there to be models of Christian behavior in the virtues. They are there to have a close spiritual relationship with the newly received. If they see that person wavering in the faith, having troubles in life, they need to see their role as a godparent to bolster the person in the faith and show human support for them. It is called to be much more than buying occasional gifts and having your name on a certificate. It really is taking that person into your family in a spiritual way.” It’s a great responsibility to be a godparent—to teach, and to support, to pray for, to spiritually adopt your godchild. So this would also mean that the godchild has to accept being taken into a new family; you have to seek advice and support when needed; you have to listen and receive advice when given. The godparent/godchild role is a particularly difficult one, it seems, in our society today. But as Fr. Joseph alluded to, the godparent is one more practiced and advanced in the Christian life, whose there to assist and help guide their godchildren. It’s a two-way street—the godparents reach out, and we have to receive their words, and allow a deep spiritual relationship to develop. Here (in the godparent/godchild relationship) we can see very closely what it means to be members of one another in Christ.

Being chrismated into the Orthodox Christian Church is the most significant thing that will happen in your lives. Our relationship with Christ is everything. Live the life that the Church gives you, make use of the incredible riches of 2,000 years of the life of the Holy Spirit in the world, seek out your gifts and use them in the Body, and never forget the great responsibility that you bear, before God and others, in choosing to call yourselves Orthodox Christians. And we all should remember these same things as well.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever.

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