At noon on Sunday, Jan. 18, the people of Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church will assemble at Ashley Pond for the Great Blessing of Water.
The Orthodox Church celebrates Theophany on Jan. 19 according to the Julian Calendar. Theophany celebrates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River by Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist.
Western Christians may be familiar with the feast of Epiphany which coincides with the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Theophany, as they commemorate the same event in Christ’s life. Whereas “epiphany” means a revelation of truth, “theophany” denotes a revelation of the nature of God. At the baptism of Christ, a voice sounded out of heaven confirming the identity of Christ as the Son of God, while the Holy Spirit, taking the form of a dove, descended upon Him. Thus the Trinity, God in three-persons, was revealed to those who witnessed the event and to the Church for the rest of history.
John the Baptist baptized people for the forgiveness of their sins, and he recoiled when the Sinless One, Jesus Christ, approached to be baptized. Instead of receiving forgiveness, which Christ did not need, He sanctified the waters by His baptism. When God created the earth, He pronounced everything “good.” By sanctifying the waters through His baptism, Christ returned nature to its original goodness and blessedness.
We commemorate this blessing, and call down blessings anew, when we submerge a cross in the water three times while singing the Troparion (prayer) of Theophany.