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Sunday, October 28, 2018

The rites of Baptism and Christmation


TEXTS - ORTHODOXY



The rites of Baptism and Christmation

The Rites of Baptism and Christmation (known as Confirmation in the Western) are the rites of passage and entry into the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is the Divine Economy of Faith, what brings Life to all Christians that become in Communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the First Among Equals. For of course,  ”In the beginning God made the Heavens and the Earth. But the Earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1,2) These are the very first words of Scripture! The “Spirit of God,” the Holy Spirit, was in “the waters.” This is a prefigurement of baptism, of what gives us life, since God used water to make creation, but also uses it to renew creation.

He then did just that, by renewing creation through the flood. “And the flood was upon the Earth forty days and forty nights, and the water greatly abounded and bore up the ark, and it was lifted on high from off the Earth… and the ark was borne upon the water… and (water) covered all the high mountains which were under the Heavens… And there died all flesh that moved upon the Earth, of flying creatures and cattle, and of wild beasts, and of every reptile moving upon the Earth, and every man… (But) Noah was left alone and those with him in the ark… (Genesis 7:17-24) All Christians are “lifted on high from off the Earth,” towards the “Heavens” when they are baptized, since they are renewed as Creation was renewed, and become one with God. Noah’s ark is a type of the Church, and we all must be purified by water and Spirit to enter this Church, and not die like the men and women who laughed at Noah. Indeed, they died because of their wickedness and lack of faith. But Noah was faithful,and was a type of Christ.

And then, in Exodus, there is the crossing of the River Jordan and the Pillars of Cloud and Fire:

“And the Angel of God that went before the camp of the children of Israel removed and went behind, and the pillar of the cloud also removed from before them and stood behind them. And it went behind the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and stood; and there was darkness and blackness; and the night passed, and they came not near to one another during the whole night. And Moses stretched forth His hand over the sea, and the Lord carried back the sea… And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry land, and the water of it was a wall on the right hand and a wall on the left. And the Egyptians pursued them and went in after them… (with) Pharaoh… And it came to pass in the morning watch that the Lord looked forth on the camp of the Egyptians, and bound the axle-trees of their chariots, and caused them to go with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them… And the Lord said to Moses, ‘stretch forth thine hand over the sea, and let the water be turned back to its place, and let it cover the Egyptians…’ And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea…  and the Lord shook off the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the water returned and covered the chariots and the riders… and there was not left of them even one… So the Lord delivered Israel in that day from the hand of the Egyptians… (and) the Egyptians (were) dead by the shore of the sea.” (Exodus 14:19-30)

This pillar of cloud was a type of the soothing waters of Baptism, and the pillar fire which led them by night was a type of the fire of the Holy Spirit within every follower of Christ. This cloud of