2016-05-12

Through the Holy Baptism liturgy, it will be shown how it shapes our Christian worldview.

Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The liturgy of Easter is a baptismal liturgy. Baptism is the start of the Christian life or Christian philosophy. Baptism gives a sense of direction guiding the baptized throughout his entire existence, supplying all answers to all questions. Christ becomes his telos, his end point. If Christ is our aim, He leads us to that good end, un-chaining us from our sin, the devil, the world. It is by the risen Christ that we are given this inauguration into the Kingdom of God. Baptism is the restoration of true life, the life that was lost in sin.

There is one Body and one Spirit; there is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, on faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.

There is truly only One who can restore us to who we were meant to be. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit renews us and transforms us. It is in the Body of Christ that we are restored.

The baptism continues with the presentation of the candidates (either infant or adult). This presentation is brought before the church body. It is meant to raise the person in the community of the church, the ekklesia. Because it is a unity of faith, hope and love. Baptism is not a solo act. It is by the church nurturing its people in the unity of the Holy Spirit that the Christian grows.

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God? Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God? Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

The baptized are asked to renounce Satan and evil spiritual forces. “…we meet the Devil at the very moment we make the decision to follow Christ. Liberation from demonic power is the beginning of man’s restoration” (Of Water and Spirit, Schmemann 23, 26). In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the newly baptized is told to spit on Satan. Many today in the “modern” world do not realize there is a demonic power against them. In ancient time, cults and pagan worship were everywhere. It seems logical to man in those days to renounce the demonic worship. Today, we seek happiness, success, self-fulfillment, freedom in similar ways the ancient person did. We just don’t build overt places of worship to gods anymore. Our palaces of sex and pornography (on the Internet, clubs, sex-trafficing) are either hidden or disguised as something else, but still remain as places of demonic worship. For every person is religious; every person worships. It’s just a matter of what they hunger and thirst for. Self-fulfillment and success in greed or avarice (coveting what others have). Our loves and appetites are still out of order. Man has not changed at all. We still crave what we want and desire, hoping it will fulfill our restless hearts. St. Augustine spoke much of this in his Confessions. Freedom today is to do whatever one has the power to do. It leads to self-indulgence of what God has made and devaluing His creation. The dignity of another person or animal or resource is put aside to fulfill one’s OWN need or desire or longing.

In short, we battle against and reject the demonic in its lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior? Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love? Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?

In turning from Satan, we turn toward Christ. We make allegiance with Christ. His life, his joy, his peace. The decision we make to follow Christ is faithfulness, unconditional commitment, a total belonging to someone who is to be obeyed and followed no matter what happens.

Then the Creed is recited after a series of questions. We are reminded of what we believe. That Christ is the Son of God. That the trinity is three person, yet One God. In the forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body and life everlasting. A commitment in receiving the Eucharist. We commit to proclaim the Word of God, the Good News in word and example. To serve others and love them as yourself. And respect the dignity of every person.

We commit ourselves to the life-giving Christ. Baptism is the sacrament of forgiveness because Christ is Forgiveness. Man prefers anything as oppose to God—the world, the self. “This is the only real sin, and in it all sins become natural, inevitable. This sin destroys the true life of man. It deviates life’s course from its only meaning and direction” (For the Life of the World, Schmemann 78). To believe in Christ is to repent. “In baptism both repentance and forgiveness find their fulfillment. In baptism man wants to die as a sinful man and he is given that death, and in baptism man wants the newness of life as forgiveness, and he is given it” (Schmemann 78).

A series of prayers are said: deliver from the way of sin and death; open hearts to grace and truth; fill them with holy, life-giving Spirit; keep them in faith and communion with your holy Church; teach them to love others in the power of the Spirit; send them into the world to witness to your love; bring them to fullness of your peace and glory.

Baptism always renews the church. The Lord delivers us from the ways of sin and death. The water of baptism does not do this but the Holy Spirit does these things: open our hearts to grace and truth; unity of the church; loving others; witnessing to God’s love; peace and glory. It is but by the Holy Spirit that we see anything as God see it. Thirst for God and to be in communion with God. The presence of the Holy Spirit in all sacraments is what truly gives us true happiness that man seeks. The life that is given to us in the death and resurrection of baptism that the Holy Spirit renews in us is not another life.

It is the same life given to us by God, but renewed, transformed and transfigured by the Holy Spirit. Each Christian—whether monk or involved in business—is called not to split his life into spiritual and material, but to restore it into wholeness, to sanctify the whole of it by the presence of the Holy Spirit. If St. Saraphim of Sarov is happy in this world, if his earthly life ultimately becomes one bright stream of joy, if he truly enjoys every tree and every animal, if he greets everyone coming to him by calling him “my joy”, it is because in all of this he sees and enjoys the One Who is infinitely beyond all this and yet makes all of it the experience, the joy, the fullness of His Presence. For it is He who makes life into life, joy into joy, love into love, beauty into beauty,” and therefore is all these things (Of Water and Spirit Schmemann 108, 106).

The thanksgiving of the water.

This is the reminder that God brooded over the waters when God made all things. In a way it is a primordial element where all life has sprung from. It is the source of life from the One Who created and is Life itself. We are reminded of the passage of the Israelites out of Egypt—from death into life. Our bondage unshackled, where we have freedom from sin and the world of death through baptism. We share in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who was baptized by John. We are led into repentance and forgiveness. The old man is put to death. Our renewed self emerges into the life of Christ. It is a life-long struggle—our old self rears his death-head rather often. In the sanctification of the water by the Holy Spirit, our life is sanctified in Christ. We are now children of God, re-united with the Father. None of these things are possible without the cross or without the Holy Spirit.

After the baptism.

We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.

If Christ gives us life everlasting with Him, why should we not proclaim the joy of our salvation. For in Christ’s death, all the world died. Christianity does not condemn the world. It condemned itself. That is why it must be re-made but only by Christ himself. In Christ’s resurrection, the new heaven and new earth began. It is not yet remade, but at Christ’s return, the world will be culminated—be as it should be.

We share in Christ’s eternal priesthood because by definition, man (persons—male and female) by definition were priests. We gladly received the world from God and offered it to God. This is the Great Thanksgiving (the Eucharist). The world was the Great Thanksgiving, the blessing of God. In this thanksgiving man’s life was transformed into communion with God. But man fell. He wanted the world for himself. Thus making the world his prison and being a slave to the world. That is why Christ offers us return to the eternal priesthood because Jesus Christ came as Priest (as well as prophet and king) to restore the world, for the life of the world. He now allows us to become like Christ, a priest, one obedient to the King, to receive the world from God and give it back to God, therefore having communion with God once again. That rift was restored in the Priest of all priests, Jesus Christ. When we are in fellowship and obedience to Jesus Christ, we are restored to our original intent, communion with God and enjoying His creation—not for ourselves, though there is a joy and delight in our enjoyment, of course, because God gives us good gifts.

And in this renewing and restoring, this new creation, we have the peace of the Lord always with us because He is the one bringing the new heaven and new earth to reality.


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