THE HOLY THEOPHANY-БОГОЯВЛЕННЯ
Христос хрещається! в річці Йордані!
Christ is Baptized! In the Jordan!
Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, and the Jordan is parted in two. It holds back the streams of its own waters, seeing the Master wash Himself.
On the Feast of Theophany ( also known as "Epiphany" ) we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, Christ Jesus. In the Gospels we read:
It was at this time that Jesus come from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. And at once, as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you."
This Feast - together with Pascha and Pentecost - make up the three great Feasts of the ancient Church. Through the Baptism of the Lord the Most Holy Trinity has been revealed to the world. God the Father spoke from Heaven about the Son. The Son was baptised by the Lord's holy Forerunner, John. And the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son in the form of a Dove.
The icon of Theophany is called the"The New Testament Trinity". (As distinguished from the "Old Testament icon of the Trinity", which symbolizes the Trinity using the encounter of Abraham and Sarah with the three 'Angels' ".)
When You, were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord
the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
by calling You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit in the form of a dove
confirmed the truth of His Words.
O Christ our God,
You have appeared to us
and enlightened the world. Glory to You!
Tropar of Theophany
"Theophany" ( and "Epiphany" ) means God's "Appearing", i.e. God's Self-Revelation.
From ancient times, Theophany was called the "Day of Illumination" and "the Feast of Lights". On that day, God, who is Light, appeared to illumine "those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death" (Mt 4:16) and to save through grace the human race.
In the early church, this was one of the times when people were baptised. So today, the Great Blessing of Water is served during the Festal Services. This takes place inside the Church during the Vigil, but on the next morning outside at a local body of water.
At our parish, we dress up warmly after Divine Liturgy and process outside to our founatin. There we bless the water and all the waters of the world.
During the blessing the Priest blesses the water by making the sign of the life-giving Cross three times in the water : with the 3 branched Theophany Candles, with his hand, with his breath, and with the Cross.
There is also a tradition of casting the Cross into the local body of water, whether that be the Aegean Sea near Constantinople or the frozen Dnipro river by Kiev. So doing, not only is the water in the font blessed, but also all the waters of the world are sanctified.
Great are You, O LORD, and wonderous are your works and no word can do justice to the praise of your Wonders. By sanctifying the waters, all the material world is blessed, for the Christ this day has entered the waters and revealed himself and the most holy Trinity to all the world.
So too all those who partake thereof or use this holy "Jordan water" are blessed. While the Catechumens are being baptised, all those passages from the Old Testament are read which trace the Salvation History of the human race whereby God used the instrumentality of water to work saving grace amongst us.
These incidents are antitypes of the Baptism of the Lord, e.g. Israel's crossing through of the Red Sea, the purification of the water by Moses using the wood of the tree, the contest of St. Elias the Prophet against the priests of Baal, Holy Elisha's the healing of Naaman in the waters of the Jordan, the stopping of the Jordan when Israel crossed over into the Promised Land and the Miraculous Dew Sign shown to Gideon the Judge, when the LORD called him to defend Israel against oppressor Gentiles.
And all we baptised, are baptised into the saving Death and Resurrection of the Lord. 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. "
The Stikhera of the Great Blessing of Waters