Friday, January 04, 2008
On January 6, Orthodox Christians all over the world celebrate the feast of Theophany. The word theophany means "revelation of God". The Holy Trinity is revealed to the world as Christ, the Son of God, is baptized by St. John the Forerunner in the Jordan river. The voice of God the Father says "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." and The Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. (Mt.3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).
So, on this day we celebrate that God has revealed Himself as Trinity, and we worship God as such, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This feast dates back to the time of the Apostles, and has also been a time when Catechumens were baptized.
The Orthodox Church sings the following hymns for Theophany:
Troparion - Tone 1
When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
And called You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself
And have enlightened the world, glory to You!
Kontakion - Tone 4
Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord,
and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us.
Knowing You, we sing Your praises.
You have come and revealed Yourself,
O unapproachable Light.
Christ was not baptized in order to wash way his sins, since He is sinless, but to show us the way. Being God incarnate, his entrance into the waters caused the waters to be blessed, to become holy. This feast, therefore, is a celebration of the God with us-Immanuel- who has touched the water, the land, the very air we breathe, humanity itself by his becoming human; transforming all that he touches into the stuff of life which leads us back into communion with God the Father, through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the enlightenment of the world. Whenever I stop to really meditate on the full implications of this, I am in awe.
Orthodox Christians keep this feast by blessing holy water both indoors and out of doors. Tomorrow we will have a vesperal service of the Blessing of the Waters, and a font of water will be blessed and each person will take a bottle of this Holy Water home for use all through the year.
On Sunday, after Divine Liturgy we will all treck out to a public place and bless the resevoir. Anyone who knows anything about the water cycle/watersystem can do the math: All over the world, Christians are gathering to pray and bless the waters of resevoirs, rivers, lakes, oceans...you name it. This is done with prayer, singing, censing, and of course throwing a cross, the symbol of Christ, into the water. The Son of God Himself actually getting into the water is an impossible act to follow, but we do like to re-live and remember and pray and rejoice. So we do keep this feast and the Holy Spirit is with us.
So when you turn on your tap water, know that it's been blessed.
Glory to Thee, O Christ, glory to Thee!