Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday we celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptizer. May we bring to your attention the piece of the sermon by our Bishop Vsevolod.
“What shall this baby be?” (Luke 1: 66).
God made humans free. We can talk about this a lot and for a long time, but the fact remains: we can choose between good and evil. We have a choice.
But there is also that area of life where God decides for us. Where God has already decided for us and instead of us. God did not check with us when He created the world. He did not check with us when He sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world “for us men and for our salvation.”
And God decided how to save us; and in this we must see the miraculous grace: to be saved you do not need to run to the end of the earth or mock yourself, as medieval ascetics did. For our salvation, the Lord created the Church in which He accepts us and our children through holy baptism, and forgives our sins, and feeds us with the Eucharist, and keeps us on the way to the Heavenly Kingdom.
“What shall this baby be?” (Luke 1: 66). You know, I continuously meet people who say: “I do not want to put pressure on my child. Faith is a matter of personal choice. Let him (or, her) grow up and decide whether to be baptized or not.”
“Let him grow up and decide: whether to be baptized or not, whether to be a Christian, or, let’s say, a Buddhist.”
Strange logic! We adults decide what our child will wear, and what will eat. We choose for him (or her) a school to study in. We shield our children from vicious street influence. We give them tasteless medicines. But at the same time seemingly intelligent people can say: let him grow up and decide to be baptized or not to be.
Then also you must not talk with the child in Russian: let him grow up and decide himself which language to speak. And you should not care for a child when he is sick: let him grow and decide whether to take medicines or not.
You know, recently in one of our parishes I baptized an infant, it was after his relatives entreated the infant’s father more than for six months. It is good that they managed to persuade him! I really do not understand how fathers (and mothers) can think that they give their children freedom, depriving in fact these children of the eternal life.
“What shall this baby be?” (Luke 1: 66). We have no options — to baptize children, or not to baptize, to teach them Catechism or not to teach, to educate them how to be Christians or not to educate. There is no option, because God has already decided everything: He decided that He wants to give Christian names to our children. He decided that following us our children should be Christians too.
During the liturgy in the parish of Saint James (Novokuznetsk) a baby girl Elvira was baptized by the Bishop. But there was a problem with photographs of this baptism. The fact was that the baby girl’s dad fought two days ago (he protected a teenager from street criminals), and his whole face was bruised. Therefore, no one took pictures.
Please pray for the mission of the Church in Siberia, that new people come to holy baptism and bring their children.
“Faith and hope”
Please see the attached photo of the chapel in Novokuznetsk.