On the Great Blessing of Waters

Blessing Theophany

by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem

O Trinity supreme in being, in goodness, and in Godhead, almighty, who watchest over all, invisible, incomprehensible, Maker of spiritual beings and rational natures, innate Goodness, Light that none can approach and that lightens every man that comes into the world: Shine also upon me Thine unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may make bold to sing the praises of Thy measureless beneficence and Thy might. May the prayer be acceptable that I offer for the people here present. Let not my faults hinder Thy Holy Spirit from coming to this place, but suffer me now uncondemend to cry to Thee, O most good Lord, and to say:

We glorify Thee, O Master who lovest mankind, almighty, pre-eternal King. We glorify Thee, the Creator and Maker of all. We glorify Thee, O Only-begotten Son of God, born without father from Thy Mother, and without mother from Thy Father.

In the preceding feast we saw Thee as a child, while in the present we behold Thee full-grown, our God made manifest, perfect God from perfect God. For today the time of the feast is at hand for us: the choir of saints assembles with us and angels join with men in keeping festival.

Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon the waters.

Today the Sun that never sets has risen and the world is filled with splendor by the light of the Lord.

Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays. Today the glittering stars make the inhabited earth fair with the radiance of their shining.

Today the clouds drop down upon mankind the dew of righteousness from on high. Today the Uncreated of His own will accepts the laying on of hands from His own creature.

Today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches the Master, but stands before Him with trembling, seeing the condescension of God towards us. Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord.

Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the transgressions of men are washed away by the waters of the Jordan.

Today Paradise has been opened to men and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us. Today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed to sweetness by the coming of the Lord.

Today we have been released from our ancient lamentation, and as the new Israel we have found salvation. Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God.

Today the blinding mist of the world is dispersed by the Epiphany of our God.

Today the whole creation shines with light from on high.

Today error is laid low and the coming of the Master has made for us a way of salvation.

Today things above keep feast with things below, and things below commune with things above.

Today the triumphant assembly of the Orthodox keeps this holy festival with great joy.

Today the Master hastens towards baptism that He may lift man up to the heights.

Today He that bows not, bows down to His own servant that He may set us free from bondage.

Today we have purchased the Kingdom of Heaven: for the Lord’s Kingdom shall have no end.

Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness.

The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee and were afraid. The Jordan turned back, seeing the fire of the Godhead descending bodily and entering its stream. The Jordan turned back, beholding the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of a dove and flying about Thee. The Jordan turned back, seeing the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains skipped, looking upon God in the flesh; and the clouds gave voice, marveling at Him who has come, the Light of Light, true God of true God.

For today in the Jordan they saw the triumph of the Master; they saw Him drown in the Jordan the death of disobedience, the sting of error, and the chains of hell, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation.

—St Sopronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, The Great Blessing of the Waters

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
Blog; Facebook;Twitter