Theophany: Revealing and Blessing Creation

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Theophany, and the Great Blessing Water, we are reminded that we do not bless things to make them holy as versus the rest of creation which is then viewed as secular, fallen,  worldly.  Rather, we bless things so that our eyes are opened to see the spiritual nature of all created things.  We are not trying to make some things sacred, but rather we want ourselves and the world to be transfigured by the Holy Spirit, so that the goodness of all creation so obvious to God at the beginning of Creation (see Genesis 1) will be manifest to all of us today, here on earth.

“Orthodoxy recognizes no sharp distinction between the sacred and the secular; every aspect of our daily life and work is blessed by the Church and so brought within the realm of divine grace. As Christians we are necessarily materialists; ours is an incarnate faith, earthy, rooted in this world. Thus our Orthodox service books contain prayers for sowing, threshing and wine-making, for diseased sheep or cattle, for blessing cars, tractors and fishing nets, for insomnia, for children starting to learn the alphabet or students taking their examinations.” (Bishop Kallistos Ware in Praying With the Orthodox Tradition, p x)


Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 391) says:

“So shortly you will also see the purification of Jesus in the Jordan for my purification; or rather he is cleansed for the purification of waters, for he indeed did not need purification, who takes away the sin of the world. The heavens are parted and he receives the testimony of the Spirit, who is akin to him. He is tempted and conquers the tempter and is served by angels. He heals every sickness and every infirmity, and gives life to the dead. …

Yet as John is baptizing, Jesus approaches, perhaps also to sanctify the baptizer, and certainly to bury all the old Adam in the water, but before these things and for the sake of these things to sanctify the Jordan. As indeed he was spirit and flesh, so he initiates by the Spirit and the water. The baptizer does not accept it; Jesus debates [with him]. ‘I need to be baptized by you,’ the lamp says to the sun, the voice to the Word, the friend to the bridegroom, the one above all born of women to the first born of all creation, the one who leaped in the womb to the one worshipped in the womb, the one who was and will be the Forerunner to the one who was and will be made manifest. ‘I need to be baptized by you.’” (Festal Orations, pp 74-75, 91-92)