Theophany: Blessing Water and the New Creation

Lost worldThe blessing of water is a prayerful statement about what water is and what God created water to be.  The blessing water, the notion of Holy Water, is that  we are reclaiming and transfiguring creation for it to have the spiritual characteristics God intended creation to have from the beginning.   Author John H. Walton in his book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, calls upon us to not only embrace the notion of the new creation in Christ but to change our thinking about what it means to be “created.”  He writes:

“Since in our culture we believe that existence is material, we consequently believe that to create something means to bring its material properties into existence. Thus our discussions of origins tend to focus on material origins. . . .

Most of us never consider alternative ontologies.   Our culture has given us our beliefs about what it means for the cosmos to exist (material ontology; existence is material; creation is a material act) and many of us would not realize that these beliefs are the result of a choice. It is a testimony to the pervasive influence of culture that this material ontology seems so obvious as to prevent any thought that it is open to discussion. . . .  however, there are alternatives. If we are going to understand a creation account from the ancient world we must understand what they meant by ‘creation,’   and to do that we must consider their cosmic ontology instead of supplying our own. It is less important what we might think about ontology. If we are dealing with an ancient account we must ask questions about the world of that text: What did it mean to someone in the ancient world to say that the world existed?   What sort of activity brought the world into that state of existence and meaning? What constituted a creative act?

In this book I propose that people in the ancient world believed that something existed not by virtue of its material properties, but by virtue of its having a function in an ordered system. Here I do not refer to an ordered system in scientific terms, but an ordered system in human terms, that is, in relation to society and culture. In this sort of functional ontology, the sun does not exist by virtue of its material properties, or even by its function as a burning ball of gas. Rather it exists by virtue of the role that it has in its sphere of existence, particularly in the way that it functions for humankind and human society. In theory, this way of thinking could result in something being included in the “existent” category in a material way, but still considered in the “nonexistent”   category in functional terms …. In a functional ontology, to bring something into existence would require giving it a function or a role in an ordered system, rather than giving it material properties.   Consequently, something could be manufactured physically but still not ‘exist’ if it has not become functional.”  (Kindle Loc. 210-12, 219-22, 222-32)

If we follow the argument and thinking of Dr. Walton, we can understand how sacramental prayer bestows upon the things of the earth – water, bread, wine marriage – the blessing of functionality.  The sacramental prayers bestow on the things which are being sanctified a holy and godly function.   Thus they become (come into existence)  the mystery of creation which God intended them to be.  We in the church in the sacramental and prayer life become what God intended us a humans to be in His creation:  co-creators with Him of reality.  When we bestow proper functionality on things that exist, we working with God to create the world as God would have it be.  In the fall of humans, our sinfulness took away from us this functionality, and thus creation suffered and has groaned itself because its function had been taken away from it.


One thought on “Theophany: Blessing Water and the New Creation

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