In the Orthodox Church we have been celebrating the glorious Feast of Theophany, remembering the baptism of Christ and all that happened when the Son took on our humanity.
Every year when this commemoration comes around I find myself maxed-out with meaning, because who can fathom it, what God has done for us? and I usually try to meditate on something to do with the symbolism of water as the basic element of Creation. It’s so tactile and material, and when my mind is overwhelmed I can simply stand in church and receive the joyous sprinkling and be happy.
This year a more particular aspect of our sacramental life was the focus of my thoughts. As Christ was baptized, so have I been baptized, and as the scripture and hymn tell me, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
After we’ve had a few days of trying to improve ourselves by means of resolutions of will, the Church gives us again the solution to our emptiness and weakness, and it comes in Theophany hymns such as this:
“The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries aloud saying: “Come ye all, and receive the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the Fear of God, from Christ who is made manifest.”
Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters,
Ye that have no money, come ye buy and eat.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.
All of this sounds so much more vital and thrilling and real than my paltry goals for 2014. If I would only live each day renewing the God-breath of my baptism, remembering that I have put on Christ….
But Christ Himself, when he came out of the waters of baptism, went into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days. I am tempted and begin to fall as soon as I walk out of the church. All I can do is pray to be more resolute to pray more, which I think will work better than resolving to pray more, and it gets to the point faster. Lord, give me that Water of Life that You are.