Also known as the Feast of Lights
The Feast of the Holy Theophany of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on January 7 (19 New Style). The Feast commemorates the Baptism of Christ and the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity. At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were made manifest. Thus, the name of the Feast is Theophany, meaning manifestation of God.
John the Baptist, the one chosen by God to proclaim His coming, was preaching in the wilderness and baptizing all who responded to his message calling for repentance. As he was doing this, John was directing the people toward the one who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. Initially, John would not do this, saying that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus said to John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness (3:15). John consented and baptized Jesus.
When Jesus came up from the water, the heavens opened suddenly, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. The Bible records that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on him. When this happened, a voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This was the voice of God the Father.
Christ’s baptism in the Jordan was “theophany,” a manifestation of God to the world, because it was the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry. It was also a “theophany” in that the world was granted a revelation of the Holy Trinity. All three Persons were made manifest together: the Father testified from on high to the divine Sonship of Jesus; the Son received His Father’s testimony; and the Spirit was seen in the form of a dove, descending from the Father and resting upon the Son.
The theme of “manifestation” or “revelation” is also expressed in Scripture with the symbolism of light. In the hymn of the Feast we sing, “Christ has appeared and enlightened the world.” Thus, January 6 is also known as the Feast of Lights. The Church celebrates on this day the illumination of the world by the light of Christ.
With love in Christ,
Photos: It was a joy for me to be with the Orthodox who gathered for my talks at Theotokos, “Unexpected Joy” Orthodox Church in Ash Grove, Missouri. My friend Bro. John Michael Talbot brought four of his monks down from their Roman Catholic community, Little Portion Monastery in Arkansas, for my first talk. We’ve been friends for years, but this was the first time we’d been able to meet, personally. Father Moses Berry, whom I refer to as my brother from a different mother, has been a most gracious host, and I am already looking forward to seeing he and Matushka Magdalena next summer, when they come to Vashon Island to visit their son.
Monday January 20, 2020 / January 7, 2020
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Synaxis of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.
Martyr Paphnutius (1938).
New Hieromartyr Basil, priest (1939).
Martyr John (1940).
Martyr John (1942).
New Martyr Athanasius of Attalia and Smyrna (1700) (Greek).
St. Cedd, bishop of Lastingham (664) (Celtic & British).
St. Brannock (Brynach) of Braunton (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Kentigerna, hermitess of Loch Lomond.
The Scripture Readings
Paul at Ephesus
19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
The Lamb of God
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”