January 6, 1999

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Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of this New Year, and in the season of the Holy Feast of Epiphany, I greet the Church of Jesus Christ in the grace and glory of the Lord, Who was baptized in the River Jordan for our sanctification.

We call the Feast of Epiphany by several names. We know it as "the Feast of Lights" and "the Great Blessing of the Waters." These names signify the universal significance of this High and Holy Feast of the Lord.

Light and water.

These two elements establish the basic conditions for life, the fundamental needs of all creatures. In the creation story of Genesis, the Lord begins His mighty work by calling forth light out of darkness, and by setting apart the waters of the deep. It was over these shimmering waters of creation that -as the Scriptures say- the Spirit of God hovered, like a mother dove brooding over her newborn offspring. And it was over the light and the water that God pronounced His blessing  - "it is good."

In this first day of creation, we see the Holy Trinity at work
     ●  God the Father, who calls all things into being by His own good will,
     ●  God the Word, through whom all things were made,
     ●  and God the Holy Spirit, who enlivens and enlightens all things.

And ever since that first day of creation, light and water have been the vital elements for all living things.

In the same way, we again see light and water in the New Creation of God's redeeming love in Christ. For on the day of the Epiphany  - the day of Christ's Baptism in the Jordan River, and the first day of His public ministry in Judea -  we see again a day of light, a day of revelation, and a day for the setting apart and the sanctifying of the waters.

In that day the Holy Trinity once again is revealed to us, but in even greater fullness and splendor

God the Father, pronouncing His blessing from heaven on His Beloved Son,

God the Son, through Whom the water of the Jordan, and all water everywhere, is sanctified,

and God the Holy Spirit, descending once again from Heaven, descending in the form of a dove, and resting upon the Firstborn of all Creation.

For this reason, we also call this day the Feast of Theophany -the Feast of the manifestation of God- for on this day, the Triune splendor of the Godhead was revealed for the first time not only unto us, but unto the whole cosmos.

And how shall we, as new creatures in Christ, as members of His body through Baptism, how shall we celebrate this great Feast?

Let us give thanks, first of all, for the light and the water through which God grants us new life.

Let us walk in the light of Christ -the light of truth, the light of knowledge, the light of God's commandments, the light of justice, and the light of unconquerable faith.

And let us rejoice in the waters of salvation
     ●  the waters of Baptism, in which we receive the washing of regeneration;
     ●  the waters of agiasmo, in which we receive strength and healing;
and above all, let us rejoice in the living water of God's Holy Spirit, manifested unto us in Epiphany, bestowed upon us in Pentecost, and welling up within us unto life eternal.

I pray that the joy, the life, the light, and the blessing of the Feast of Epiphany will truly be yours as you receive the grace and bask in the glory of the Holy Trinity on this great day.

And now, may Christ our true God, who condescended to be baptized in the Jordan for our salvation, shine upon you His true light, and refresh you with His waters of blessing, throughout this New Year, and unto the Ages of Ages. Amen.

[ January 6, 1999 ]