Today’s Great Feast commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. Today the Heavens are opened. Today the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove.Today God the Father’s Voice from heaven declares Jesus Christ is His beloved Son. Today the Illuminating Light and Mystery of the Holy Trinity appears to the inhabited earth!
May blessings abound With God’s gracious Love, So let our hearts soar On wings like a dove!
Theophany comes from the Greek word theophania, which means “appearance of God” revealing the manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity to the world through the Baptism of Christ, the Son of God.(Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).
As we joyfully celebrate Holy Theophany, and the additional Great Blessing of the Water service for Holy Water, we are reminded of the Great Sacrament and Mystery of our own baptism.
The Father was revealed to the sense of hearing; the Spirit was revealed to the sense of sight, and in addition to these, the Son was revealed to the sense of touch. The Father uttered His witness about the Son, the Son was baptized in the water, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered above the water. When John the Baptist witnessed and said about Christ, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29), and when John immersed and baptized the Lord in the Jordan, the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation was shown. That is to say: The Lord took upon Himself the sins of mankind and died under them [immersion] and became alive again [the coming out of the water]; and we must die as the old sinful man and become alive again as cleansed, renewed and regenerated. This is the Saviour and this is the path of salvation. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Theophany Troparion (Hymn); (Tone 1 Melody)
When Thou, O Lord, was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness unto Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth as steadfast and sure. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.
Theophany Kontakion (Hymn); (Tone 4 Melody)
Thou hast appeared today to the inhabited world, and Thy light, O Lord, hath been signed upon us, who sing Thy praises and chant with gladness: Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared, O Light unapproachable.
Dome Mosaic of St. John the Baptist – St. Sophia Orthodox Church, Canada
St. John the Baptist is called the voice of the Word, the lampstand of the the Light, the morning star and Forerunner of the Sun of Righteousness.
He is named Forerunner, as he preceded Christ… being sent as a Messenger to prepare the people for Christ’s ministry. Angel in Greek means messenger, and some icons of St. John the Baptist depict him with angelic wings, on account of Malachi’s prophecy from the Old Testament.
On September 11 (August 29, Julian calendar) we remember St. John the Baptist’s heavenly birthday and martyrdom. In honour of the greatest of all prophets who have ever lived, and since ancient times, the Church has celebrated this leading luminary by establishing this day as a fast.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. ~ St. John 1:6-9
700 years before the birth of Christ, the Prophet Isaiah foretold the preaching of John the Baptist. Isaiah called St. John “the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3); who was to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, who lived more than 400 years before the birth of Christ foretold the coming of St. John the Baptist, and refers to him as an angel. Behold I will send My Angel, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.~ Malachi 3:1-2
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.~ St. John 1:6-9
Christ Himself said:Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. ~ St. Matthew 11:11
Through the holy prayers of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ, may we, too, stand as steadfast shining candles before the Lord; radiating His Effulgent and Gladsome Light!
When our Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by John in the River Jordan, Christ comes up from the water, the heavens open, and the Spirit of God descends like a dove upon Him. God’s voice from heaven proclaims, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Trinity is revealed. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit shine forth...
Theophany reminds us of our own Baptism, for “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia!” In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean from our old life, and we put on the new life in Jesus Christ.
The feature picture reminds me of a family hike around some back lakes, many years ago on Theophany. Music from the service remained with me… in particular… “The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of Glory thundered, the Lord is upon many waters.” Upon rounding a bend in the trail, we encountered the lake shrouded in a blanket of dense mist. A sudden shaft of sunlight pierced through illuminating everything. The swirling fog dissolved as if blown away by a great breath. This exquisite memory remains close to my heart. Each year when hearing said phrase at service, for a moment, I return to that peaceful place.
I believe all bodies of water are particularly blessed with a special beauty upon this feast day!
Troparion of the Feast (Tone 1)
When Thou, O Lord, wast baptised in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness unto Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son! And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed His word as steadfast and sure. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee!
Kontakion of the Feast (Tone 4)
Thou hast appeared today to the inhabited earth, and Thy Light, O Lord, hath been signed upon us, who hymn Thee with understanding: Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared, O Light Unapproachable!