Deisis (Novogorod)

Theophany - The Holy Festival of the Lights

Icon of Theophany (Baptism) St. Gregory Nazianzus

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light.  Christ is baptized; let us also go down with Him, and rise with Him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near.  Perhaps He comes to sanctify His baptizer; certainly He comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters.  He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; He Who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists.  Then John says: "I ought to be baptized by You."  He is the lamp in the presence of the Sun, the voice in the presence of the woman in the presence of the Firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother's womb in the presence of Him Who has already come and is to come again.  "I ought to be baptized by You"; we should add: "and for You," for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with Him.  The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open.  The Spirit comes to Him as to an equal, bearing witness to His Godhead.  A voice bears witness to Him from heaven, His place of origin.  The Spirit descends in bodily form like a dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

Today let us do honor to Christ's baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness.  Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed.  Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom His every word and every revelation exist.  He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world.  You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of Him Who is the light of heaven.  You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received - though not in its fullness - a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory and power forever and ever.  Amen!


Troparion of the Resurrection

When You descended to death, O Immortal Life, * You slew Hades with the lightning of Your divinity. * And when You raised the dead from the depths of the earth, * all the heavenly Powers cried out: * “O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!” (Troparion)

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Therefore let us leave untouched the senseless speculations of the masses and the false doctrines, and turn to the teaching delivered to us in the beginning, let us be temperate and ready for our prayers, persevere in fasting, and fervently implore the All-seeing God not to expose us to temptations, since the Lord has said: 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'

St. Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians