Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On the Feast of Theophany

Today in the Orthodox church we celebrate the Feast of Theophany - the revelation of the Holy Trinity to mankind, when Our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan. I'm sharing below an excerpt from one of the prayers said at the Great Blessing of Water:  

...Master, lover of mankind, beyond all goodness, Almighty, eternal King. We glorify you, the Creator and Fashioner of the universe.

We glorify you, only-begotten Son of God, without father from your Mother, without mother from your Father. For in the preceding feast we saw you as a babe, but in the present one we see you full and perfect man, our God, made manifest as perfect God from perfect God.

For today the moment of the feast is here for us and the choir of saints assembles here with us, and Angels keep festival with mortals.

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove dwelt upon the waters.

Today the Sun that never sets has dawned and the world is made radiant with the light of the Lord.

Today the Moon with its radiant beams sheds light on the world.

Today the stars formed of light make the inhabited world lovely with the brightness of their splendour.

Today the clouds rain down from heaven the shower of justice for mankind.

Today the Uncreated by his own will accepts the laying on of hands by his own creature.

Today the Prophet and Forerunner draws near, but stands by with fear seeing God’s condescension towards us.

Today the streams of Jordan are changed into healing by the presence of the Lord.

Today all creation is watered by mystical streams.

Today the failings of mankind are being washed away by the waters of Jordan.

Today Paradise is opened for mortals and the Sun of justice shines down on us.

Today the bitter water as once for Moses’ people is changed to sweetness by the presence of the Lord.

Today we have been delivered from the ancient grief, and saved as the new Israel.

Today we have been redeemed from darkness and are filled with radiance by the light of the knowledge of God.

Today the gloomy fog of the world is cleansed by the manifestation of our God.

Today all creation shines with light from on high.

Today error has been destroyed and the coming of the Master makes for us a way of salvation.

Today things on high keep festival with those below, and those below commune with those on high.

Today the sacred and triumphant festal assembly of the Orthodox exults.

Today the Master hastens towards baptism, that he may lead humanity to the heights.

Today the One who does not bow bows down to his own servant, that he may free us from servitude.

Today we have purchased the Kingdom of heaven, for the Kingdom of the Lord will have no end.

Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world has been filled with gladness.

The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and were afraid.

The Jordan turned back when it saw the fire of the godhead descending in bodily form and entering it.

The Jordan turned back as it contemplated the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descending and flying about you.

The Jordan turned back as it saw the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant.

The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in the flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marvelling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world....

...For by your own will you brought the universe from non-existence into being, you hold creation together by your might, and by your providence you direct the world. You composed creation from four elements; with four seasons you crowned the circle of the year. All the spiritual Powers tremble before you. The sun sings your praise, the moon glorifies you, the stars entreat you, the light obeys you, the deeps tremble before you, the springs are your servants. You stretched out the heavens on the waters; you walled in the sea with sand; you poured out the air for breathing. Angelic Powers minister to you. The choirs of the Archangels worship you. The many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim as they stand and fly around you hide their faces in fear of your unapproachable glory. For you, being God uncircumscribed, without beginning and inexpressible, came upon earth, taking the form of a servant, being found in the likeness of mortals.

For you could not bear, Master, in the compassion of your mercy to watch the human race being tyrannised by the devil, but you came and saved us...

We acknowledge your grace, we proclaim your mercy, we do not conceal your benevolence. You freed the generations of our race. You sanctified a virgin womb by your birth. All creation sang your praise when you appeared. For you are our God who appeared on earth and lived among mortals. You sanctified the streams of Jordan by sending down from heaven your All-holy Spirit and you smashed the heads of the dragons that lurked there...

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