Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reflections on Theophany

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan,
the worship of the Trinity was made manifest!
For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee,
and called Thee His beloved Son!
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself
and hast enlightened the world,
glory to Thee.


It was a wonderful Theophany weekend at my parish - my first as an Orthodox Christian. Here are some of the things I'll remember from it:

I was struck by the particular richness of the feast, liturgically. How beautiful it all was, I thought, and how full of symbolism and meaning. I often find myself wanting to go back and re-read what I just sang at liturgy - and this was especially true this past weekend.

I got to read the first of the six lessons we read at Vespers on Saturday night of Theophany. Each of the lessons were water related - my reading from Genesis was about creation, and God creating the waters and separating the waters and the dry land. This portion of Vespers felt for a couple of minutes a little like a portion of a well-done western Easter Vigil...an interesting and important connection (as Fr. Stephen Freeman mentioned in a recent post).

I was delighted and moved to see and hear just how wet it all was. The lessons, the Blessing of Water, the generosity with which water was used to bless us and other things, watching people drink the holy water and pour it into containers to take home - all provided a year's worth of imagery for me and has left me continuing to contemplate the role of water in God's covenant with his people - it's properties which are both life-giving and life-taking...

There was so much to see in the services this weekend! Actually, there's always much to see, but there seemed to be much more to see - and because I was trying to be a good choir member, too, I found myself trying to watch what was going on behind me and trying to sing what was in front of me at the same time. A challenge! (I don't think I did either one very well, actually, but I don't think I'd do it differently if I were to do it all over again this weekend).

I love how on the great feasts worshippers sing the troparion for the day over and over and over again. You might not know the troparion for a particular feast when you come into church that day, but you sure know it by the time you leave!

When I went up to kiss the cross following the liturgy on Sunday, Fr. Bill said to me, "Christ is in our midst!" and I looked right at him - knowing I was supposed to say something in response, but drawing a total blank. All I could say was, "ummmmmmm." He laughed and said, "Do you mean to say 'He is and ever shall be?'" "Yes!I I said, "He is and ever shall be - that is exactly what I meant to say." An awkward moment, but we both had a laugh about it. I am certain I will remember this, and hopeful that I will come to think it funny in years to come.

Having forgotten to bring a jar to church with me Sunday morning (even though I was reminded), I sent my son down to the church kitchen after Sunday liturgy for a large coffee cup in which to put some holy water to bring home. The trip home was a good excercise in vigilance, as we tried not to spill the large and full open cup of water in the car. We did pretty well (though the cup holder in my car did receive a small blessing) and while we don't have alot of holy water from this year, at least we have some.

The Prodigal Son icon I painted in my recent iconography class was blessed after liturgy on Sunday, along with several others. After the prayers, Fr. blessed it with water, picked it up and kissed it and held it for me to venerate also. I kissed it, noticing that it, too, was very wet - which made me smile (and caused me to be thankful that I'd put an extra coat of varnish on it). I am glad it is blessed, and it now hangs in our icon corner - looking extremely humble next to the others that are there.

It was a wonderful feast - a great blessing.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

It sounds lovely!