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!

I wanted to say just a few words this morning about baptism, since we’ve just witnessed the first Liturgical act of the infant Phillip. The rite, if I can use that term for a moment, the rite of baptism in the Orthodox Church is truly a rite of initiation. At baptism, a man or a woman becomes a Christian. In the Orthodox Church, we don’t use the word “rite” to describe baptism or chrismation or holy Communion – we use the word mystery. The Mysteries of Sacred Baptism and Chrismation have been give to Phillip today. His life has been dedicated, by his parents and godparents, to Christ. An adult makes a conscious decision to follow Christ, and the beginning of his life as a Christian is Holy Baptism. Obviously, Phillip can’t yet make that decision, so his parents have brought and presented him to God. In baptism, he has become part of this community, part of this parish, and part of the family of God. He is part of a covenant community, in a very parallel way as the covenant community of the Old Testament was sealed with circumcision. Some may ask the question – how? Well, actually, that’s not really a question we can answer. The Mysteries are called Mysteries because they go beyond the bounds of human logic and understanding. An adult, being baptized, truly cannot understand what’s happening, and the same is also true with the baptism of a child. What we know is that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ commanded the Apostles to go out into the world, and to preach the Gospel and to Baptized those who believed. Baptism was the sacramental beginning of the life in Christ. St. Paul also writes that, in baptism, the old man of this world dies, and we come out of the waters of the baptismal font a new man, alive in Christ. Again, this is a great mystery. We can’t typically see with our physical eyes this death and resurrection that happens at baptism. But know it happens because it is witnessed to by Christ, the Apostles, and all the Saints. So now Phillip is a new creation in Christ, and the burden now falls on us, especially on his godparents, his parents, and the extended family and community. The burden is to raise this child in a Christ-like manner, to raise him in the Church and to teach him all of those things that the budding Christian needs to grow – the Scriptures, prayer, the virtues, the ascetic life, taking him to Church, participating in the holy mysteries. And as he grows, he’ll have his own decisions to make. He will have to decide: to follow Christ, or to forsake this great gift that he’s been given. But we will nurture him, and our Lord will offer him all of the grace and mercy offered to each one of us, so that he may grow in stature and in favor with both God and man (as is said of the child Jesus). So let us rejoice in this newly enlisted warrior of Christ our God, and may we all contribute to his continuing growth in Christ for all of his life.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson