For Salvation

Sunday I found myself at a wonderful little Missionary Church for the dedication of a family member’s children. It was truly touching and joyous event.  But of course, I couldn’t help but think of the first Sacrament of the Holy Orthodox Church–baptism, done most frequently to babies.

During the service, the pastor said “Of course, this is not for their salvation.” Oh boy. Here we go…

Yes…yes, it is. Even by the Protestant construct, it is, in fact, salvific.  Hang with me here.  Because these two Christian parents are taking this step, dedicating their children, promising to raise them up in the care and admonition of the Lord, those children will most likely come into contact with God’s love and grace in a way that so many children will not. They will hear the “Plan of Salvation,” they will be baptized. They will take communion. They will learn the stories of the heroes of the faith, and how to walk with Christ. They will be saved. So, one can argue that yes, in fact, dedicating your children in the Protestant sense is “for their salvation.”

And that, my friends, is sacramental. These things we do, these promises we make, these pledges to honor, to obey, to submit, to follow God on His terms, work for our Salvation. Period. Just like the “wages of sin is death” is not so much a legal description but rather a cold, hard statement of fact, it is true that, even apart from the Orthodox understanding of the transmission of God’s grace through the sacraments, Protestant actions are FOR SALVATION.

By any construct, salvation is a process, beginning at childhood and continuing until our deaths.

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Muttering on the way to work

I always hint a bit about my work…mostly the ways it wears on me and leaves things sticking to me like burrs. In recent weeks, I lost another priest to parish conflict (bleh) but was re-acquainted with a priest I knew from my days at St. John’s. He’s a former police officer and bomb squad member so he’s kinda been there, done that.

During confession, yet one more time, I talked about my struggles with anger and just generally being a crappy person and Fr. George offered up the best advice–praying the Jesus Prayer on the way to work.

So for the past few weeks I’ve shut off my NPR and my CD’s and been saying, out loud, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I cannot adequately describe what a difference it has made, just on my mindset. And that’s what Orthodoxy is about–changing me. Making me like Jesus. And if you want to get your mind off what everyone else is doing, put it on what you yourself need, everyday: Salvation, mercy, grace. Praying the prayer that has been prayed by others in the exact same mindset, struggling with the exact same things allows me to not worry about my words, or coming up with something nice to say to God, but instead to focus on what needs to be done. The prayer recognizes the position of Christ, the saving work of Christ and my constant need to submit myself to Him and what He wants for me.

So for the foreseeable future I won’t be catching up with the BBC. I’ll be throwing myself at the feet of my Savior, keeping things in proper perspective.