I was again honored today to celebrate a baptism in which another human soul was forever united to God. As Orthodox we believe quite literally that upon baptism we are not only outwardly affected, but inwardly as well. We believe that we die with Christ and are born new with Him in His Resurrection. But....you probably already knew that.
Today I wanted to share what a honor I consider it to be as a Priest to be the celebrant during any baptism, but today was a bit more special for me. The boy was 9 ½ years old. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t a pagan. He wasn’t neglected. He was born into a loving Christian family. The reason he was not yet baptized is because his family has been on a journey. For more years than he has been alive, his mother who is a recent convert to Orthodoxy, was searching. Many years ago, through friends, she was introduced to the mystery of Orthodoxy, but it wasn’t until early last year that she deeply in her heart understood what the Orthodox Church was......”what she had been searching for all along.”
Sometimes God allows us to search and long for Him before He fully reveals Himself to us. He allowed the Jews to wander for forty years in the desert. He allowed the gentiles to revel in their various pagan religions for centuries before He revealed Himself to them. He continues to allow millions of human beings to live in spiritual darkness. Why?
Of course we don’t know why God does everything He does. We are after all His creation. If we understood everything He did we would be God. But sometimes He allows the darkness because we are not ready for His Truth. Remember Moses had to be shielded from His glory for his own safety. Sometimes, which is why I feel so honored when I am allowed to celebrate a baptism, He allows the darkness because some of us choose the darkness. Some of us actually prefer the darkness, and He never forces anyone to accept Him or follow Him.
That is why before the baptism takes place, the candidate must first reject the devil, and then embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and as King. Then through the act of free will we are united to God in Baptism. We are forever joined into union with the Holy Trinity. And being a part of that awesome reality can be really humbling sometimes, especially when it occurs in the life of family in the midst of a great journey. That was the case today. Not every member of this particular family is Orthodox, but they are all believers in Christ. Maybe someday, by God’s grace, they too will choose to follow the Orthodox Way of Life. And maybe, that day, I will again be honored to welcome into God’s Church, freely.