Theophany, at times known as Epiphany, is upon us (Богоявление in Russian, Θεοφάνεια in Greek). The sixth of January is the official date that the baptism of Christ is celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is not to be confused with the Western vacation also known as Epiphany which is a celebration of the magi presenting the infant Christ with their gifts.
The word Theophany suggests “Revelation of God” Theophany thus marks the revelation of the Trinitarian nature of God when Jesus was baptized. These who witnessed heard the Father’s voice from Heaven, saw the Spirit descending upon Jesus, and could see Jesus in the flesh, whom God confirmed to be His Son with His voice.
The symbolism of this icon is deep and wealthy. There is 1 certain portion I want to concentrate on for this weblog entry.
Jesus is naked, or almost so.
Christ is purposely depicted with tiny or no clothes. But why is that important?
All all through the creation narrative in Genesis we see God building and then saying it is “good.” Man and lady had been produced with each other in God’s image. They had been each lovely, and whilst they lacked physical garments, they had been clothed in the glory of the “image” and “likeness” of God. Having said that, when they fell into sin, they hid in shame till God brought them garments of skin to put on (which symbolizes the sinful tendency that now obscures our correct nature). Their all-natural beauty was transformed into an object of shame. Adam and Eve fell, and with them fell creation.
Now, enter Jesus Christ: he represents the second Adam (1 Cor 15). In shame and nakedness, Adam hid. But Christ comes in His majesty, each as God and man, each in glory and nakedness absolutely unashamed, representing the beauty of the undefiled human created feasible by means of Him (and in the subsequent centuries, Christians had been usually baptized with out any clothes, shedding the garments of the “old man” to die in Christ and be resurrected in Him). But why was Christ baptized if He had no sin?
Whilst Christ was baptized in the Jordan River, it was seriously the Jordan and all of creation that was baptized in Christ. As Canticle 4 of Compline of Theophany states, At Thine appearing in the physique, the earth was sanctified, the waters blessed, the heaven enlightened, and mankind was set loose from the bitter tyranny of the enemy.
We see the starting of a new creation in Theophany. Issues are getting set ideal. Christ has come not only to cleanse and restore mankind, but to adopt us as heirs into His Kingdom. And when we get His glory, not only are we redeemed, but we draw all of creation with us into the final restoration. That is why “creation groans” in eager expectation, awaiting the glorification of the young children of God. (Rom eight)
A couple of other notes about the Icon:
– At the top rated the Holy Spirit is descending upon Jesus as a dove, the Holy Spirit is depicted in a Mandorla. In this manner, The Father, making use of His personal pre-eternal and consubstantial and subracelestial Spirit as His finger, crying out and point from heaven, openly declared and proclaimed to all that the 1 then getting baptized by John in the Jordan was His beloved Son, whilst at the exact same time manifesting His unity with Him.” (St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 60.15). St. John Chrysostom also emphasizes that the Gospels state the Heavens had been opened, the Spirit descends upon us so that we can ascend with Christ and the Spirit to the Father in Heaven. For the initial time given that the fall of mankind, the Heavens had been opened to us.
– The angels on the ideal side are waiting to attend and dress Him following the baptism is more than.
– John the Baptist, whilst baptizing Jesus is ordinarily turned away or seeking at the Spirit descending upon Christ. This signifies that Theophany is about elevating Jesus Christ. If this had been an Olympic race, it would be as if the Old Testament (John the Baptist and all prior to him) had been passing the baton to the New Testament (Jesus Christ and all of the saints).
– There is an axe close to John the Baptist, which reflects his warning that our lives will have to bear the fruit of the Spirit or else we will be removed. We can’t get comfy or spiritually lazy.
– Jesus is not submerged in the water, for creation was baptized in Him, not vice versa.
Lastly, the strange tiny creatures riding fish at the bottom represent the Jordan River and the Sea, each fleeing at the sight of anything a great deal larger and higher than themselves getting into the water. As the Psalms say:
Psalm 73:14 –Thou did establish the sea by Thy may, Thou did break the heads of the dragons in the water.
Psalm 76:15 – The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee and had been afraid the abysses had been troubled.
Psalm 113:three – The sea beheld and fled, [the River] Jordan turned back.
There are many hymns sung for the duration of this season, but the forefeast Troparion hymn confirms some of the points I create about right here: O Adam, be glad with our initial mother, Eve hide not as you did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He has appeared now to clothe you in the initial robe once more. Christ has appeared, for He definitely wills to renew all creation. If you can get a copy of The Festal Menaion developed by Mother Mary and Met. Kallistos Ware (St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press), then you will discover almost 100 pages of deep theology relating to this feast day.
Through this time of the year, a lovely ceremony is carried out and holy water is ready in each and every parish. Congregants are cost-free to take the holy water house with them. A portion is kept and utilized by the church all through the year.
Also, property blessings are completed for the duration of the subsequent weeks making use of the holy water ready for the duration of the Feast of Theophany. It is not uncommon to give a smaller present to the priest who has blessed the house (a lot of priests do not get a salary and these varieties of events aid carry them financially by means of the year) and/or you might cook a meal for him. Do not take offense even though if he has many property blessings lined up for that day and does not have time to sit down for a complete meal.