Monday, November 30, 2015

Baptism is just the beginning

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28.16-20)
The Gospel of Matthew ends with the words invoked at every Orthodox Christian Baptism. With these words, the Church BEGAN the work of making disciples of all nations, and each Baptism BEGINS a NEW life in Christ. Saint Paul teaches:
Brethren, do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6.3-11)
It is a privilege and great blessing to be allowed by the grace of God and the authority of His Church, to baptize infants and adults into Christ. But the baptism is only the beginning. As with any life, without growth and nourishment life ends in death, spiritual as well as physical. And how do we grow and nourish our NEW LIFE IN CHRIST?

The life of the Church, with her prayers, fasting, almsgiving, sacramental life, house blessings, Holy Scripture readings, Matins, Vespers, Supplications, Anointings, Holy Water blessings, feeding programs, clothing drives, visitations....get the picture? The Orthodox Christian Way of Life IS the nourishment and growth of the soul if we fully embrace the life in Christ that was given to us at our Baptism. Otherwise, baptism is just another “thing” we Orthodox do, rather than the beginning of a “life” we live.

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