Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blessing the Waters

from Google images
Church fathers tell us that the love of God warms the soul. Hell and sin are cold. So this photo, so striking in its whiteness and cultural drama, also is highly symbolic of Christ's incarnation and salvation of the world.

I begin to grasp what Fr. Stephen writes, (link from yesterday) how the tradition of the Church "sees the Baptism of Christ in the context of Pascha (Easter) as it sees everything in the context of Christ’s Pascha. Christ’s Baptism is a foreshadowing (and on more than a literary level) of His crucifixion and descent into Hades, just as our own Baptism is seen by St. Paul as a Baptism into Christ’s 'death and resurrection.' ”

These Christians are blessing the waters on Theophany as Christ blessed and baptized a cold and needy Creation when He went down into the Jordan.

12 comments:

Gumbo Lily said...

So in blessing this water, does it become "holy water" for baptism or is there other significance to blessing the water?

jody

GretchenJoanna said...

I think you could say that in blessing it we acknowledge that Christ Himself has sanctified His Creation by His Incarnation and pray that it would be revealed in all its restored healthfulness. He is the one who blessed the water and the whole creation that it represents, so that really all water and bread and everything else that we bless is already holy by virtue of it being a gift from God and given so that we would know Him through it. Here is a short explanation specifically on that: http://www.holy-trinity.org/feasts/blesswater.html
At the feast everything is sprinkled with the holy water, and we drink it, and take some home. Houses and homes of parishioners are traditionally blessed by sprinkling in the next few weeks. The water of baptism is blessed separately just before people go into it.
As Wikipedia explains it "According to Orthodox thinking God touches mankind through material means such as water, wine, bread, oil, incense, candles, altars, icons, etc. How God does this is a mystery. On a broad level, the mysteries are an affirmation of the goodness of created matter, and are an emphatic declaration of what that matter was originally created to be."

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Such an interesting post--and what an amazing picture! There's so much about the Greek Orthodox Church that I find intriguing. Were you raised in the church or did you come to it as an adult?

xofrances

GretchenJoanna said...

I converted from being an Evangelical about 4 years ago, but it was a journey that started way back. Maybe I'll elaborate via a blog page eventually. The problem is, it's one of those things where the more you know, the more you see how little you know...and there is all that Mystery!

amy said...

Lovely post, Gretchen Joanna. And I really enjoy the photo, too. Thank you for blessing me via your blog today = ' )

GretchenJoanna said...

I meant to say that Beth posted that photo a day before I did, on her blog There and Back Again. I took it from there after she told me it was from Google Images.

Gumbo Lily said...

Thank you for explaining the blessing of the waters to me, and for the very excellent link. You are very kind.

Jody

magsmcc said...

I was only going to say that this week's posts leave me speechless, and rarely do I feel I have words worthy of your thinking. But I am typing and considering my home, and imagining it sparkling with the sprinkling of blessing. Thank you!

Marfa said...

April 2010 I was happily surprised to see this photo in National Geographic:
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/04/sacred-water/stanmeyer-photography
Fr Chad Williams is the priest at St. Alexander Nevsky...and a dear family friend!
Wishing you a joyous Theophany!!!
We are on the Old Calendar in the Russian Orthodox church, so will do this in 13 more days. Today, we are celebrating Christmas.

Marfa said...

http://www.eadiocese.org/Albums/2010/jan/Jan.%2019%20-%20Richmond/index.html
MORE beautiful photos from Fr Chad's blessing last January!

GretchenJoanna said...

Martha, I love those pictures - thanks very much!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I would love it if you wrote about converting from the evangelical church to the Greek Orthodox. How interesting! When you get a chance, please fill us in.

xofrances