On October 5th, 2008, one year ago today, our son John Patrick “…was baptized… he was buried with Christ…” only to rise again, from death to life!
And we saw it all!
One thing is certain: Orthodoxy knows what it means to Baptize, none of this sprinkling water business, or light misting with a liquid substance. We try to live out the reality of the NT Greek word “Baptizo” – to immerse, to “dunk”! Yes, the Church from the very beginning baptized all people, infants and adults, but especially infants; for which parent among us would not want the gift of eternal life, and the presence of the Holy Trinity dwelling within the heart of their child?
As we understand it…. God made a decision on October 5th. He chose to invite John Patrick into His life… and so in faith Mary and I brought him, and through Faith God saved him.
And we saw it happen!
Theologically “dunking” seems to be correct. How can anyone know what it’s like to “…die and be buried with Christ…” when a slight misting of H2O is gingerly applied to the forehead, avoiding at all costs the fashionable “hair accessory” that is taped to a child’s head? Can death come through a casual “splash” or does it take an immersion – a dunking? Of course God can work salvation even with one rain drop, but the fullness of the miracle is clearly evident in the “burial” under the water. Each of us there that day gasped, literally, as John gasped on the second dunk… And did I forget to mention that in an Orthodox baptism the child/adult has the added pleasure of multiple dunks – going under the water not once – but three times! But I ask you, again “Could it be any other way?”
Father – Sploosh – Son – Sploosh – and Holy Spirit – Sploosh…
This is an epic journey. It takes a person from certain death under the water, to rising up to a new life, and finally to eternal life in Christ
The beauty of the Sacrament of Baptism is this: God works a miracle of rebirth. God chose John that day! He made a “decision” for John – a decision to save him in that laver of regeneration. God invited John into His life! To live each day in the Trinity, to be one with the Triune God, and to have the Triune God become one with him.
On August 27th our son was born into the Cook Family, but on October 5th John became part of Christ’s family; the family of Apostolic Faith. His life was joined incarnationally at that moment with the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, the saints, the archangels and angels. He received by grace – the mercy, love and forgiveness of the very God who knit him together in his mother’s womb. He will never travel or live alone. He was saved in community, he now lives in community, and he will enter eternal life one day – to be in community forever! To be sure, we are damned by ourselves. We are saved in community.
After this “washing of regeneration“, the amazing thing is that the goodness of God is just beginning! The Orthodox Church today, as did the early church throughout the centuries, now celebrates the Sacrament of Chrismation. The newly illumined and reborn child is wrapped in a white garment to signify their “putting on of Christ” and they are anointed with Chrism, Holy Oil, sanctified by the Bishop each year – and the baptized in Christ now receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Marked with grace upon his, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet, and chest. Each time he is anointed with the oil of the Spirit – the congregation loudly proclaims “Seal!” Again we see the biblical faithfulness of the Church: in that a person is baptized and given life through death in the water, and now he is given life through the healing balm of oil that is the very presence of the Holy Spirit coming upon the newly baptized. Born again, by “…water and the spirit”
But wait! There’s more! As if all this were not enough, (washed, clothed, anointed) now the child is brought to the “…marriage supper of the Lamb which has no end…” the Eucharist. Immediately from the Chrismation the child is brought to the Royal Doors, in front of the Altar, and he receives the “medicine of immortality” (St. Ignatius of Antioch) the child receives the very Body and Blood of Christ “…unto remission of sins, and life everlasting…” The Savior who has just saved him in the water, now feeds him at His table. Every Divine Liturgy, John, not by virtue of his “knowledge”, or of his “making a decision”, nor of his “intellectual understanding” will be brought to the family dinner table, and by his adoption, of his being part of the family, he will be fed along with all the members. Children are welcome in Orthodoxy because it was Christ Himself who called them to come to Him, and He reminded us that “… if you would have faith as this little child…. and the kingdom of heaven to belongs to such as these…”
Orthodoxy is not a religion.
It’s not a denomination. It’s a way of life. It is filled with the stuff of life: water, wine, oil, bread, incense, candles… It is filled with emotion, sights, and sounds, touch, smell and taste and grace. Our life in Christ can be nothing more than incarnational; for He who was begotten of the Father from all eternity, came down to earth and was born of a woman. Born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law.
Axios! Many years to you John Patrick Cook… redeemed saint of God.