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The Theophany of Christ

“And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

– Matthew 3:16-17

January 6

Holy Scripture Accounts

Vespers

  • Genesis 1:1-13
  • Exodus 14:15-18, 21-23, 27-29; 15:22-16:1
  • Joshua 3:7-8, 15-17
  • II Kingdoms 2:6-14; 5:9-14;
  • Isaiah 1:16-20
  • Genesis 32:1-10
  • Exodus 2:5-10
  • Judges 6:36-40
  • I Kingdoms 18:30-39
  • II Kingdoms 2:19-22
  • Isaiah 49:8-15
  • I Corinthians 9:19-27
  • Luke 3:1-18

Matins

  • Mark 1:9-11

Liturgy

  • Titus 2:11-15; 3:4-7
  • Matthew 3:13-17

Further Reading

  • Luke 3:21-22
  • John 1:29-34

The Epistle (from feast day Liturgy)

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you… but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

– Titus 2:11-15; 3:4-7

The Gospel (from feast day Liturgy)

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

– Matthew 3:13-17

Troparion (Tone 1)

“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity wast made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.”
( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 4)

On this day Thou hast appeared unto the whole world, and Thy light, O Sovereign Lord, is signed on us who sing Thy praise and chant with knowledge: Thou hast now come, Thou hast appeared, O Thou Light unapproachable.

Teaching from the Theophany of Christ Icon

Jesus the Messiah is unclothed like Adam before the Fall, signifying a new beginning for humanity and all of creation. Even as Christ bows his head before His servant John, He is blessing the water with His right hand.”

God the Father & the Holy Spirit join the Son, marking this as the first full revelation of the Holy Trinity, a true Theophany, which means ‘appearance of God’. The Father represented by the semicircle, voices pleasure in His Son, while the Holy Spirit descends upon Christ in the form of a dove. Connected by rays of light to the semicircle, the dove occupies the same place as the guiding star in the Nativity icon.”

John the Forerunner, like the Prophet Elijah in the icon of the Transfiguration, stands at the Savior’s right hand. This positioning illustrates John’s fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Elijah’s return to prepare the world for the Messiah.”

Angels once again bear witness to a meeting of heaven and earth. They wait in joyful wonder to receive Christ, the Incarnate God, who appears in all His glory and humiliation.”

The Jordan River and the Red Sea are sometimes personified in icons by small figures in the water, as a way to connect the Theophany to the Old Testament events that prefigure the feast. A male figure represents the Jordan, which was crossed by Joshua and Elisha, while a female figure [sometimes] represents the Red Sea, through which Moses led the Israelites.”

The Ax and Tree recall John the Baptist’s warning that ‘every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire'” (Matthew 3:10).

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts (page 22), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

featured image source for this post from Uncut Mountain Supply

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