January 6, 2015
Reverend Clergy and the Faithful of the Metropolis of Atlanta Orthodox Churches
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
– Galatians 3:27
“Because Christ made Himself known to all—not then when He was born, but when He was baptized.”
– St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Day of the Baptism of Christ
Greetings in the Name of our Incarnate Lord and Blessed Savior! Today we celebrate an historic event, the Feast of Theophany, the Baptism of Christ. We commemorate the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity, for at His Baptism, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were revealed. Thus, the name of the Feast is more properly Theophany, (meaning a “manifestation of God”), as we celebrate the manifestation of God to the world in the human form of Jesus Christ, when He was baptized by St. John the Forerunner.
Through baptism we receive a blessing: it is the beginning of our life in Christ, by the saving action of God, through water and the Spirit. However when our Lord was baptized, it was not the water that cleansed Him, but rather He that sanctified the water by consenting to be baptized, as St. John Chrysostom says, “…He was baptized and sanctified the nature of water.” The waters of the River Jordan are sanctified, and thus all the waters of creation and through them the whole world, in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of God. So in remembrance, we perform the Great Blessing of the Waters, and participate in sanctifying the world. By blessing the water, we acknowledge that Christ came to redeem not only mankind but the entire Creation.
This is the divine miracle of the Feast Day of Theophany, which is still happening today. We have only to open our hearts and receive the power of God into our lives, glorifying the Holy Trinity revealed to us today: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are indeed blessed to be given this Feast Day to renew and strengthen our Faith and devotion to our Lord and His Holy Church. As we receive the holy water, I pray that the blessings of the Epiphany Season be will be with us throughout the year.
I pray that the grace and spirit of this beautiful Feast Day will strengthen us and inspire us to serve the Lord with joy and gladness today and always! I remain,
Prayerfully yours with much love in Christ,
Metropolitan of Atlanta