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Sermon - At the Baptism of Fred and Vickie Friar

The Hymn that we Just sang tells us that As many as have been Baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. As we celebrate the initiation of catechumens into the New Life that Christ makes possible for us, let us pause for a moment to consider, once again, what it means to "put on Christ."

At the Baptism (and this applies also to the "Second Baptism" of Confession ), the catechumen (or penitent) is washed in the waters of repentance - either of the font or of tears. This repentance is, first and foremost, the result of a realization that our self-centered delusion and effort to live independently has failed, that our lives have become unmanageable and that sin has alienated us from God and each other. That is what sin always does. It damages and ultimately destroys relationships.

Through repentance we become willing to change and, more importantly, willing to be changed. We turn to God seeking a restoration of that communion that our egotism has broken. Forgiveness of our sins, this "washing", signifies God's willingness, even His desire, to re-establish a loving relationship with us despite our many failings. So powerful is the Grace of this forgiveness that the baptized person may even experience an immediate deliverance from bondage to some personal affliction.

Through the Mystery of Chrismation the newly forgiven person is then anointed with the "Oil of Gladness", the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the "putting on of Christ", Himself the Anointed One. That is what the word Christ means.This Holy Spirit is the the spirit of Christ Himself who loves and knows the Father. This Holy Spirit is given, 'into our hearts" in order to re-orient our self awareness towards God - the giver of life.

The new Christian has not joined the "right Church". He, or she has begun  a new life, united to the "Right Person", more like marriage than like joining an organization. Of course the Church is also organized, but, more as a hospital for the recovery of sick souls than as a club for the righteous. It is here that the medicine and food of the new life, Christ Himself, is given to us through the Mystery of Holy Communion. This new kind of life is centered ,no longer on ourselves our even our own "spirituality", but upon continuing to "put on Christ" through living the Christ centered life of the Church.

Congratulations, newly illumined Innocent and Elizabeth. This is your Orthodox Birthday. We of the hospital staff and your fellow patients greet you with joy. Many years!

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