“Today creation is enlightened! Today all things are glad, those of heaven and those on earth! Angels and men mingle together! For where the King arriveth, there doth order prevail. Wherefore, let us all hasten to the Jordan and see how John baptiseth the sinless head which no man fashioned. And, chanting the cry of the angel, let us exclaim together: The grace of God hath appeared, saving all men, illumining and granting mercy unto the faithful!”
(Sticheron from the litia)
Dear brothers and sisters, S prazdnikom!
Greetings on this most joyful and wonderful feast, which for our forebears far outshone the Nativity, in which the humble Saviour quietly came into the world with few witnesses, hidden in the cave to which only the shepherds were called, until the arrival of the magi who bowed down before Him in the house in which He and His parents dwelt before their exile in Egypt.
There was no such hidden-ness in the Lord’s Baptism, in which we see not only His revelation to the world as Saviour, but also the revelation of the Holy Trinity, as the heavens opened and the voice of the Father was heard, “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased…”, with the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and confirming the Father’s words.
Heaven and earth, humanity and divinity, angels and men were united as they came together for the Theophany in the River Jordan: God the Creator Himself plunged into the waters, not to be cleansed by them but rather to cleanse them; not to be blessed by them, but rather that they should be blessed by His condescension and Presence; hallowing them by humbly accepting baptism – descending into the waters which He Himself had made in the beginning.
The God-Man descended into the Jordan manifested to those around Him in His humanity, but ascended from the waters proclaimed and revealed as God, in the manifest Presence of the whole Trinity, as He was glorified together with His Unoriginate Father and the All-Holy, Good, and Life-Creating Spirit.
Though He needed neither baptism nor cleansing, by His humble example and express command the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve were called to receive new birth and renewal in the Name of the Trinity revealed on this feast, cleansed in baptismal waters and receiving the gift and seal of the Holy Spirit, to become sons and daughters of light, emerging from their own Jordan having put on Christ, as heirs of the promise of His Resurrection.
As children of the Resurrection, who have followed the Saviour into the baptismal waters, we keep this feast with joy, as the memorial and renewal of that first Theophany, joining with the saints and angels to celebrate, and uniting ourselves with all creation in joy, lifting up the world in thanksgiving.
Through this great act of the humility of God, not only the Jordan, but all creation was sanctified, cleansed and renewed by its own Creator, as even before His Divine Passion and Life-Giving Resurrection, the Saviour descended into the waters bringing sanctification and restoration to the world whose original perfection was His making and very reflection.
And, as we celebrate the Lord’s Baptism, and the Theophany of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we beseech our Triune God to send the blessing of Jordan upon the waters wherever we are, that through the gift of the Holy Spirit, through them we may be cleansed, renewed, refreshed and sanctified, and that our homes and the world around us may be blessed as we celebrate these wonderful events anew, not as onlookers, but as participants through our own baptism and through the celebration of this solemn and glorious feast.
“Today is the time of feasting, and the ranks of saints and angels have joined us in celebration; today the grace of the All-Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove comes down upon the waters; today shines the Sun that never sets, and the world sparkles with the light of the Lord! Today the moon is bright, together with the earth in the glowing radiance of its beams; today the brilliant stars adorn the universe with the splendour of their twinkling; today the clouds from heaven shed upon the human race a shower of justice; today the Uncreated One willingly permits the hands of His creatures to be laid upon Him; today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches the Lord and, standing before Him in awe, witnesses the condescension of God towards us; today through the presence of the Lord, the waters of the river Jordan are changed into remedies; today the whole universe is refreshed with mystical streams; today the sins of the human race are blotted out by the waters of the river Jordan; today paradise has been opened to all, and the Sun of righteousness has shone upon us; today, at the hands of Moses, the bitter water is changed into sweetness by the presence of the Lord!”
(From the Great Sanctification of the Waters)