When Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.' - Matthew 3: 16-17

In just under an hour's time, I'll be setting off for Vespers for the Eve of Theophany, complete with the Blessing of the Waters. This is, of course, new to me, and the Baptism of Christ never really received much theological focus in my past church experience. I'm really looking forward to it.

I do love the Trinitarian depth to this feast, and had never really thought about it before until recently, but it is the first time in our entire salvation history that we receive such an explicit revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It seems to me to be a deeper revelation of the Truth of the creation, in which the eternal natures of the three Persons are revealed, as well as their relationship with the created order: the generative Father, source of all that is, the eternal Word of God, at whose coming all things came into being by the power of thje Spirit of God, the sustaining breath on which the Word travelled, and which continues in creation and most fully in the Church today. How amazing!

In the Western Rite, tomorrow is Epiphany, which is a celebration of the manifestation of Christ to us, the Gentiles, in the persons of the Magi. This is followed by a series of Sundays in which different aspects of the revelation of God to his people are focused on. This coming Sunday is the Baptism of Christ, with many of the same themes as Theophany in the Eastern Rite. There is a focus on Christ's first miracle at the wedding at Cana, his healing miracles and the Transfiguration on the holy mount.

I love this time of the liturgical year. What a blessing we have!

6 responses:

Anonymous said...

Many years ago, on a trip to the Holy Land I've often written about on different boards, we went to the Jordan River.

There were huge crowds of people, some of them wearing white robes, who waded down into the river and let their ministers baptise them--whether they'd already been baptised or not--and one lady said, with a fervour I've never forgotten, "Lord! Now I can die, because I've been baptised in Jordan!"

I will never forget that woman's joy.... contrasted with our simple collecting of water to take back with us. We prayed too, of course, but we didn't have that joy, I'm afraid. We took the water back to the [Episcopal] parish, and the priest used to put a drop or two of it into the water every time he baptised anyone, so that was the way he "baptised in Jordan".... a poignant memory now.

Soon, you too will have that joy, so I think it was well worth the wait!

Love, Leetle M.

Ian said...

A beautiful story indeed LM: thank you for sharing.

Theophany is indeed a wondrous and blessed time, Michael; I know, as you approach your baptism, that it will be a joyous feast: the hymns with their wonderful references speak volumes.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I heard the cutest little Epiphany/Christmas joke tonight on the telly, told by an adorable and very precocious little girl about 8 years old....

"Do you know why they couldn't have a 'Live Nativity Scene' in Washington, D.C., this year?"

"Because they couldn't find three wise men."

Leetle M.

Michael said...

That sounds wonderful, Leetle M.

The Church Abroad and the Jerusalem Patriarchate jointly run an Orthodox mission in the Holy Land and I believe that the order founded by St Elisabeth the New Martyr has a convent there. They send bottles of Jordan water to all parishes of the Church Abroad every year and we use a few drops in the Baptismal water.

So next month, Ian, I'll be baptised in water which has a few drops of water from the River Jordan. Last evening really did make it hit home.

Anonymous said...

I've been to that convent, I think, Michael. It is those nuns who keep the beautiful church on the Mt. of Olives, the one with the many gorgeous gold domes.

I wasn't Orthodox yet when I was there, but at least I had had the sense to be wearing a long skirt. There was one nun stationed at the door of the church, holding a huge dress and asking women who showed up in shorts or slacks to "Puttt onnn ze drressss!"

All things done decently and in order!

Love, Leetle M.
Thanks for the British saints!

Ian said...

I do hope I can get over there one day.

And a wonderful continuity with Christ in the Jordan with the water from there in the font, Michael.

My continued prayers.

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