During the Great Blessing of the Waters, the rich beauty of the prayers was overwhelming to me! At the Baptism of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, we not only celebrate this glorious event, but we see the wondrous intervention of God, “the Lover of Mankind” throughout history! That prayer ties together so many things from the Biblical account!
And as I listened, it struck me that we really knew nothing of this at all in my Lutheran background. Only as one lately come to Holy Orthodoxy has this ancient tradition been revealed to me, and with it, another opportunity to celebrate the presence of God in our world today.
Holy Orthodoxy has a way of seeing that God the Father is NOT “out there” somewhere, but that He is here and now involved in His creation, His world. Holy Orthodoxy celebrates the involvement of Christ our God and His union with us here and now in the Divine Liturgy. Neither of these is built on some symbolism of something “out there” or of a hope of something that could come in the future. This is present reality!
After the Priest begins the prayer, “Trinity beyond all being, beyond all goodness, beyond all godhead ….
We glorify you, only begotten Son of God, without father from your Mother, without mother from your Father. For in the preceding feast we saw you as a babe, but in the present one we see you full and perfect man, our God, made manifest as perfect God from perfect God.”
Then a recitation of a present reality:
“Today the moment of the feast is her for us and the choir of saints assembles with us, and Angels keep festival with mortals. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit … . Today the Sun that never sets … . Today the Moon with its radiant beams … . Today the stars formed of light … . Today the clouds rain down from heaven … . “ And the list goes on as we see the presents of God with us in this world at this time. The Great Blessing is a “timeless” feast as all things are come together in the mystery of the Baptism of our Lord and Savior and blessing of all waters of all times.
Throughout the remaining prayers, the verbs are in the present tense!
Frankly, none of this is regularly found in the those of the Reformation. It was, as my protopsalti said, “jettisoned!”
Not only do we give high praise for all these blessings, we pray:
Incline your ear and hear us, Lord, who accepted to be baptized in Jordan and to sanctify the waters, and bless us all who signify our calling as servants by bending of our necks. And count us worthy to be filled with your sanctification through the partaking and sprinkling of the water. And let be for us Lord, for healing of our soul and body.
For you are the sanctification of our souls and bodies and to you we give glory, thanksgiving and worship, with your Father who is without beginning, and our All-hoy, good and life=giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
It is so easy to let words that we may have heard time and again to “slip by.” The Evil One is always present to distract us in the little ways from that which our God gives! It is so easy to take these things for granted!
Still, God Father, Son and Holy Spirit continues to come to us in this world, in our day, and would fill all things with His grace, mercy and light! Rejoice! Glory to God for all things!