I can’t let Theophany pass without posting something. The poetry and the glory are truly over-the-top, on this feast that is second only to Pascha in conveying the fullness of our salvation, the marvelous works of the Lord.
At Royal Hours on Monday, and today on the feast itself, I kept taking out my little notebook to scribble down a few phrases that I could use to do research at home, with the idea that I could find prayers and hymns in their entirety on the Internet, for later meditation and writing. But I find that not everything is online.
And most of my scribblings turned out to be almost identical to the phrases that had caught my attention last year. That’s okay. It was good for me to read last year’s post, and probably some of you didn’t see it then or would enjoy it again as well, so here is the link: “We are watered by mystical streams.”
The very earth of our neighborhoods has recently been well watered by rains that we acknowledge to be gifts of God, so it seemed this week that all of nature was participating in our celebration of the baptism of Christ.
Water itself is a basic element of the cosmos and is fundamental in the the Creation story: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” When Jesus came to him for baptism, John was baptizing people in the Jordan River, the same river their ancestors had crossed on their entrance to the Promised Land, and in the homily today we heard that he was calling the people to come back to that event, to their beginnings, to their first love.
The Spirit of God also appeared at Christ’s baptism to affirm that He is the bearer of God’s Spirit. It’s all about the renewal of the Spirit in our lives, as at Theophany we are reminded of our own baptism and pray again that the Holy Spirit would revive and refresh us, as the showers of life-giving rain water the plants and make them fruitful.
We celebrated Divine Liturgy in our “big church” and then processed singing to the small church — the rain kindly letting up so that we didn’t have to carry umbrellas along with our banners — where water was blessed and sprinkled all around. While some of us filled our bottles with holy water others processed all over the property and ended with blessing the bells.
The many celebrations I’ve been part of at church since Christmas have watered my soul immeasurably. Theophany (and the splashing of water on my head!) is like the final drenching of this season, so that I feel wet through with the love of God and His Church, with the joy spoken of in Isaiah 51 (and mentioned in my title here). I want to go on day by day and find His mercies that are new every morning. If I follow the counsel of my priest I’m sure I will. He said that we shouldn’t bother with New Year’s resolutions, except perhaps to imitate St. Herman of Alaska who encouraged a constant repentance, saying, “From this day, from this moment, let us love God above all.”