Whiter Than Snow

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. ~ Psalm 51: 6-7

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! ~ Psalm 148: 7-8

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. ~ Isaiah 55: 10-12

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters. ~ Proverbs 25: 11-13

Theophany Greetings!

The Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated January 19/6. After Pascha and Pentecost, this is the next greatest Feast Day of the Orthodox Church.

Theophany means Manifestation of God, as Jesus Christ is God the Word, Incarnate.

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...

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 3, verses 1-6, and 11; and verses 13-17, we stand on the banks of the River Jordan and watch this miracle occur.

In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 1: verses 32-34, we see St. John the Baptist bearing witness that Christ is the Son of God.

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.

Today is also the Blessing of the Waters.

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!

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