Tag Archives: Epiphany

We are watered by mystical streams.

“Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams.”THP1120160crp

This was one of the lines from the rich 7th-century composition of Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem, which was among the readings of Theophany and the Great Blessing of Water that we heard yesterday. More than ever before, I experienced the feast as a shining of The Light of the World and the refreshment of The Living Water, partly because of words like this in the service.

The quantity of verbal expression of various aspects of our faith is really overwhelming, and I can only process what seems to be a small fragment, each time when the different feasts roll around again.

First we celebrated Divine Liturgy in our “big church.” I had the same experience as last week, in the way the morning sun streamed down through a high window and hit me in the face. This time I wasn’t completely blinded; if I squinted just so, the candles and lamps flickering around the church appeared, for those few minutes, as they might outdoors on a foggy night, perhaps carried by worshipers in a procession of the “Feast of Lights.”

It happens that a photo was posted to our parish Facebook page, taken by someone who was there that day last week, and it shows the church with the bright beam that angled across the altar and nave and fell on me. Mr. Glad said, “You need to find another place to stand,” and I answered, “Oh, no, I like it when that happens.” Actually, I don’t often get to be in that place.TH ray of sunlight 1-2-15crp Both times I was on the left in front of a pillar. On Theophany, when the light was coming in the chandeliers were also being set swinging nearby; we were singing a hymn, and the sweetest incense was beautifying the air to honor the Lord.

After Liturgy we processed to the “little church” for The Blessing of Water, accompanied by the bells and singing together. The service opens with:

THP1120222light and water 15“The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries out, saying, ‘Come all of you, receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, of Christ who has appeared.’”

We heard multiple readings from Isaiah such as, “Ho, everyone that thirsts: come ye to the water.”

And more images from the exuberant service of blessing:

The land and the sea have divided between them the joy of the Lord….

King of all, you accepted also to be baptized in the Jordan by the hand of a servant, so that, having sanctified the nature of the waters, you, the sinless one, might make a way for our rebirth through water and Spirit and re-establish us in our original freedom.

The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in thetheophany light and water pouring 15 flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marveling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world.

On the home front, Theophany was the day Mr. Glad wanted to take down the Christmas tree. I resisted that idea for a long time, though I tried not to reveal my stubbornness. We had an easier time getting it out than we’d had installing it.

This morning coming downstairs I was startled by the bare space where the tree had been, but I quickly thought of how we have entered the season of house blessings, when by prayer and faith we will receive much more than we have lost — indeed, a different order of gifts, the “mystical streams” that are so hard to capture in words but impart the very Light of Christ Himself.

Christ Himself told us about these realities, as we read in the Gospel of John, when he said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’….whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

This is the best way to enter a new year.

Last images of Christmas…

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Tonight is the eve of Theophany/Epiphany, the beginning of the feast. According to some traditions, the wise men will arrive tomorrow, so this will be the last night I have my star in the upstairs window. I wanted to keep it up at least until this day — last year’s burnt out before, I think, and the picture is of the new one that isn’t as clear a signal, but at least it lets the neighbors know that we keep Chrisstar 2014tmas here.

I baked cookies this year, but when the 25th dawned I’d only made five kinds, instead of my usual dozen or so. After Kate arrived on the Second Day of Christmas I made another three batches, and now those are mostly eaten or given away, too. This is the second collection. Clockwise from the left, Chocolate Black Pepper, Peanut Brickle Bars, Apricot Macaroons, Ginger Spice, Walnut Coffee Cookies, and above them, Bizcochitos. The Peanut Brickle Bars were a completely new kind, and everyone loved them, so I made a second batch to replenish the stores.

cookies 2014 2nd batch

We ate cookies and opened presents in various groupings over the course of a week. During one of the opening sessions Liam cozied up the couch next to me by piling u bears GJ 14p my Christmas bears there; then he settled in. We got to see eight of the twelve grandchildren this Christmas, which was one the best parts.

Soldier and Joy made several beautiful wood-burned signs for gifts; this one below Mr. Glad and I received and put up on the wall right away. Everyone who saw it could join in the feeling it conveyed, and admire the handiwork.

 

Christmas Joy 14

tree 14 crp

Our Christmas tree this year was such a beautiful tapered shape, thick with branches whose fat needles didn’t dry out. Unfortunately its trunk did not taper, but stayed thick to the top, which made it weigh a ton, and I pulled muscles and sinews in various places just helping Mr. Glad get the tree in and up. We are procrastinating the undoing of that project. I know, it looks like many other Christmas trees, and you can’t see all around it to know what I’m talking about, but I want its picture here anyway. It has so many branches down low, I have had to crawl under every night to water it, and that makes me love it even more.

Pippin often gives me a bird for the tree. This year’s cloisonne edition looks like it should be the king of all, so royally dressed, articulated and brilliant.

cloisonne 14 xmas

At church soicon evergreen decor 14me icons had been decorated with soft conifer branches, making a sort of tent over the image. And my city still had its decorations up last night; the fire department hangs these lights on the coast redwood trees that line the main boulevard. We’ve enjoyed them for 20 years or more, but this is the first year I’ve managed to stop and take their picture.P1120148

Epiphany in the west focuses on the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and I think everywhere it is about Light, too. Quoting from this website, “From ancient times this Feast was called the Day of Illumination and the Feast of Lights, since God is Light and has appeared to illumine ‘those who sat in darkness,’ and ‘in the region of the shadow of death’ (Mt.4:16), and to save the fallen race of mankind by grace.”

In the Orthodox Church we commemorate the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan by John the Baptist, when not only was Christ shown to be the Light of the World and the Son of God, but the Holy Trinity was revealed, as our hymn for the feast reminds us with rejoicing:

When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
And called You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself
And have enlightened the world, glory to You!