On January 19th, on the feast of the Holy Theophany, or Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy in our temple.
Following the reading of the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached a homily. He reminded parishioners of the readings the Church pronounces during the Vespers service on the Eve of Theophany. The first reading from the book of Genesis tells that when God created the universe the world was formless and covered in water. Water is the first or primal element. When Jesus in today’s feast steps into the water, He not only sanctifies the waters of the Jordan but He sanctifies all the creation. In that same reading we hear the story of creation and how the Spirit hovered over the water. Now we see the Spirit come in the form of a dove to reveal the Messiah. And the whole Holy Trinity is made manifest to the world.
The other Vespers reading is from Exodus, the story of the release of the Israelites from the captivity in Egypt. We read how they fled into the wilderness and were chased by the army of Pharaoh. They came to the Red Sea and crossed it in a miraculous way. The waters of the sea parted and the Israelites walked through the sea, but after they passed the sea, the waters came back and flooded the Egyptians. The waters of the Red Sea saved those whom God had chosen, and Jesus had freed them from their sins. In the same way as we rise from the waters of Baptism, we rise as new creations.
This purification is foretold in the Prophet Isaiah, “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they become crimson red, they may become white as wool!” (Is. 1, 18).
Fr. Igor continued his sermon saying, “Today the Creator of all things comes to the earth and comes to be baptized in the Jordan. Jesus Who is free from all sin wishes to be baptized in order to cleanse all of humanity from the enemy of old. The Creator of all is baptized by the hand of a servant, so that He may grant all of humanity purification through water and the Spirit. Today, the one who created all things, begins His ministry that will ultimately end in His death and Resurrection that will complete what is begun today. But this holy mission of Christ will also continue in eternal life prepared for those who will believe and will be baptized. Therefore, let us live up to that great calling for eternal life given to us through the holy Baptism in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”
At the end of the Liturgy Fr. Igor conducted the Great Blessing of water and blessed the faithful with the newly sanctified water of Theophany. Parishioners had an opportunity to get the holy water for themselves, as well as to invite the priest to visit their homes.