The Creed – Part 20

“…I confess one baptism for the remission of sins, I look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.”

A ritual similar to Christian baptism has existed and does exist in other religions. There is a kind of natural symbolism of being cleansed with water as being cleansed from sin, ignorance etc. Christian baptism is symbolic also, but when we say symbol we must not think of meaning that it is only a symbol, that nothing actually takes place.
Rather through baptism we become participants of Christ’s death and resurrection. In the case of the baptism of an infant, when the child goes under the water three times the infant is sharing in Christ’s three days in the tomb. When the child comes up out of the water three times the child is coming out of the tomb with Christ. St. Paul expresses this in his Epistle to the Romans in this manner:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6:3-5)
People are not always aware that a second sacrament follows baptism. After the baptism, the person is anointed with chrism. Chrism is an oil made with fragrant herbs by the Patriarch, Archbishops and Metropolitans of each local church and then distributed to all parishes. This is the Sacrament of Chrismation. In baptism we are freed from death, in Chrismation we receive the Holy Spirit. In a sense Chrismation is our own personal Pentecost. We remember that fifty days after Christ’s resurrection the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles. This is described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Here is an excerpt:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
When we are anointed with the chrism the priest says “the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”
In the Old Testament, anointing is a sign of being set apart, or made holy. Kings and prophets were anointed. For example we read of the Prophet Isaiah’s anointed with the spirit (Isaiah 61:1). Likewise, we read of the anointing of David as king in the Book of Samuel (Samuel 16:13). The Orthodox sacrament of Chrismation is equivalent to the Roman Catholic sacrament of Confirmation. However, there are two major differences. In the Roman Catholic Church (and others) Confirmation is separated from baptism by several years and performed on older children. Also, it is performed only by the bishop.
In the Orthodox Church priests administer the sacrament with chrism prepared by the head of the local church.
The Creed ends with the resurrection of the dead. The Christian hope is not simply for the soul to live in heaven after death, but rather for the resurrection of the body. Although soul and body are separated at death, this is most unnatural. Human beings were created for an embodied life, and we will be embodied souls, again at the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time.
Finally we arrive at the life of the world to come; this is described in the Book of Revelation:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev 21:1-5)

Fr. John