Category Archives: Theophany

Theophany

It’s the Feast of Theophany. Special services for the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ began yesterday and culminate tomorrow. I was so happy to be able to have a fairly contemplative day, morning and evening.

In the middle of the day we celebrated at church with a Vesperal Liturgy, after which nuns from a nearby monastery (a different monastery from the one where I got the big squash) brought food for us who had been fasting: warming vegetable soup, salad with lots of trimmings, bread and spreads, and even halvah for dessert.

Last year I wrote a bit more about Theophany. This year I don’t have anything new to say about the feast; I am trying to just soak it up and be changed by it, though I feel too dull to follow Father Stephen very far on the topic. I do want to share an icon I found on http://www.icon-art.info where I spent a while browsing. This mosaic is from 11th-century Greece.

Here’s a teaser clip from Fr. Stephen’s post that I linked to above:

     The world and all that is in it is given to us as icon – not because it has no value in itself – but because the value it has in itself is the gift of God – and this is seen in its iconicity.

At Theophany, the waters of the world are revealed to be both Hades and the gate of Paradise…. Love alone reveals things for what they are, and transforms them into what they were always intended to be. It is the gift of God.

 

Feasting – Water and Light

I’m glad that in the Orthodox Church we can enjoy the blessings of each major feast for at least several days following, as it makes it possible for me to catch up after not having a computer for a while, and still be current.

Theophany, January 6, celebrates the baptism of Christ and His revealing as the Son of God. There is the blessing of water:

“It begins with the singing of special hymns and the censing of the water which has been placed in the center of the church building. Surrounded by candles and flowers, this water stands for the beautiful world of God’s original creation and ultimate glorification by Christ in the Kingdom of God.” [all my quotes are from this site]

“It is the faith of Christians that since the Son of God has taken human flesh and has been immersed in the streams of the Jordan, all matter is sanctified and made pure in him, purged of its death-dealing qualities inherited from the devil and the wickedness of men. In the Lord’s epiphany all creation becomes good again, indeed ‘very good,’ the way that God himself made it and proclaimed it to be in the beginning when ‘the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters’ (Gen 1:2) and when the ‘Breath of Life’ was breathing in man and in everything that God made (Gen 1:30; 2:7).

…and there is the rich troparion of the feast that sang itself again and again in my mind, and in my thankful heart, for days:

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee his Beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the truthfulness of his Word. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world, glory to Thee!

I read once a comment from a Lutheran man who had attended a conference on Orthodoxy. He said that it seemed to him the central theme of the Lutheran Church was justification, and the central theme of the Orthodox was The Holy Trinity. What a huge difference he saw!

And so it has always seemed to me, that every other Christian group or institution gets a bit sidetracked, focusing on a part of the whole, while in Orthodoxy you find God Himself in Three Persons, united in Love, at the center–an unfathomable treasure store of Life and Wisdom and whatever one might need.

The Feast of Theophany includes the revelation of the Trinity, and the Enlightening of the World (Epiphany) by that revelation. There is so much to comprehend just in this one event, I know I can only grasp a fragment. But maybe year by year I will take in a little more. Last week I was quite overwhelmed with what I understood, and I do thank God for all He has done.