Theophany 2014

Wishing everyone a blessed Feast of Theophany!

“Christ’s Baptism is seen in the Orthodox tradition as possessing a cosmic significance, as embracing the whole created order.  His Baptism is in a sense the reverse of our own.  In our case, Baptism is a purification from sin.  But Christ is sinless; why, then, should He be baptized?  Such precisely is the query posed by St John the Baptist: ‘I need to be baptized by You, and do YOU come to me?’ (Mt 3:14).  The Orthodox answer to this question can best be put in simple picture language.  We are dirty; at Baptism we go down into clean water and we come our cleansed.  At our Baptism, then, we are sanctified by the waters.  But Christ is clean; at His Baptism He goes down into the dirty water and Himself cleanses the waters, making them pure.  As we affirm in the liturgical texts for the feast of Epiphany, ‘Today the Master has come to sanctify the nature of the waters.’  At His Baptism it is not the waters that sanctify Christ, but Christ who imparts holiness to the waters, and so by extension to the entire material creation.”  (Bishop Kallistos Ware, THE INNER KINGDOM, p 70)

2 thoughts on “Theophany 2014

  1. Hi Father Ted, thanks for these postings.
    I have heard that all the water of the world is blessed on day 06 Jan, when the Church blesses the water. Is that true? If yes, then why the people take water in the Churches and do not fill their bottles in their homes?
    I really do not understand if this is the case, then why this blessing need to be repeated every year? Is it somehow “paled” and need to be repeated? What is the exact signification and effect of Blessing of Water?
    Also, can the non-Christian people wash and drink the blessed water that is taken in the Church?

    I am an orthodox Christian believer and these questions came out of my mind these days…Thanks again

    1. Fr. Ted

      I think what we do each year is renew the celebration of God’s transfiguring the created world. In those parishes which go to a lake or river to do the blessing of water, it is not as if the blessing of the body of water diminishes over the year – as if a blessing has some half life and so a year later the blessing is all gone. As creatures living in time, we need reminders of these blessings. We are renewing our participation in them. It is not that we imagine the blessing fades over the course of a year. All water is blessed as it is created by God. Our prayers simply recognize that blessing and that fact. We pray that water should take on its revelatory power which it manifested from time to time through history. So we read in the scriptures for the Feast some of the many ways in which water was part of God’s creative and saving activity. The prayers call to mind the role water plays in salvation. We celebrate this special role of water in our Feasts. We renew our celebration year after year.

      But whatever the Church celebrates and experiences in the Feasts and in the water of creation, sometimes human thinking takes over and we fail to appreciate the importance of the Feast or of water itself. So then we begin to contrast blessed water with unblessed, the sacred and holy become opposites, even opposed to each other. This is somewhat mistaken thinking. We can pray over any water we are using for our lives and homes and ask God to bless it. In the Church we connect water to the special blessing of the River Jordan and how that water from time to time became a sign of God’s salvation – when Israel crossed it to enter the Holy Land, and when Christ entered it to be baptized by John. The sense of the blessing is that at times God appeared and was present at the jordan. We pray that God will appear, manifest Himself in the waters in our church too. We want to share in the blessing that others experienced in history.

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