Today the Orthodox Church celebrates a feast day- Theophany.

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Troparian of the Feast

When Thou was baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son.  And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word.  O Christ our God Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!

For more information regarding this day that celebrates the baptism of Christ, see my post from last year:  http://orthodoxmom3.com/Theophany

Blessings to you all!

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Theophany, to be celebrated later this week on January 6th, is the Feast Day celebrating the manifestation of God because at the time of baptism (Christ baptized by John in the Jordan) God revealed Himself to people as the Holy Trinity( found in Matt. 3:16):  wpid-IMG_20140102_090954_489.jpg

  1. God the father spoke from Heaven
  2. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God was baptised
  3. The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove

Troparian of the Feast

When Thou was baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son.  And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word.  O Christ our God Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!

Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church.  When we pray we make the sign of the cross.  The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD.  Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith.  The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

It is a terrible thing to believe in many gods.  Orthodox Christians do not believe in more than one God.  God is One but is a Trinity in Three Persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is not three Gods.  It is one God in three Persons, the Trinity in one essence and indivisible.  All three Persons have the same divine rank; there is not one higher than the other.  All three are the same true God.

The doctrine of the Trinity is anchored in Scripture.  Our Lord Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matt. 28:19) He did not use the plural word 'names'.  It is used in a singular form.  St. Paul spoke  of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" in 2 Corinthians 13:14.  St. Peter also mentions the Trinity in his first letter, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ ....elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2).

There are also indications of the Trinity in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 1:26 God says, "Let us make man in our image and likeness". Yet the next verse states, "And God made man in His image and likeness" (Genesis 1:27).  Obviously the plural us and our suggests more than one but is followed up by the singular his.  This is evidence of the Trinity. Further evidence that knowledge of the Trinity occurs in the Old Testament is that the Hebrew word for God, "Elohim", is plural yet it takes a verb in the singular, and if an adjective goes with it, that too is in the singular.

The Trinity is a difficult concept.  Analogies have been made (i.e. There are many sacred books gathered together into one book called the Bible or water has three forms: solid, liquid and gas but remains being water) but none have mastered the conceptualization. God is just so great that He will remain beyond our comprehension while in this earthly life.  But it's not that we can't understand God at all.  The purpose of the Trinity is to help reveal God to us. The word 'God' is described more fully through the Trinity because one cannot come close to understanding the fullness of God without knowing '"the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14).

My hope is the Father,

My refuge is the Son,

My Protection is the Holy Spirit,

Holy Trinity,

Glory to Thee.

~An Orthodox Prayer

One further note before concluding...  This feast is also sometimes referred to as Epiphany by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus.  The term epiphany does appear in some of the service texts for this feast...  ~ excerpt from OrthodoxWiki

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Christmas Day may be over but the season is not.  And the reason we celebrate the Holy Day is never gone.

Let us remember the reason of establishing the Feast of the Lord's Birth on December 25th:  In the 4th century, there were heresies being taught.  Followers of Arius were denying that Jesus was God made flesh. In accordance with this teaching, Christians could not celebrate his birth.  In order to fight this error, it was agreed in the Church that the commemoration of the Birth of Jesus, Our Lord, would be separated from the Feast of His Baptism ( Until the 4th century, this Feast was celebrated on January 6 along with the remembrance of Theophany - the Baptism of Our Lord - and was held on the 6th day of the year in relation to the "Sixth Day" when Adam was created because according to ancient tradition, Christ is the "Second Adam").  December 25th was chosen out of several suggestions made at the time as a date for this separate celebration in order to remove temptation from the Christians of that time. The Romans had a pagan festival on this day and it was usually spent in merrymaking and immorality.  Choosing December 25th as the day, therefore, assisted the Church to teach the rejection of pagan ideas and demonstrated that Christ had come to replace those lifeless and immoral teachings.  Most importantly, in choosing a date to separately celebrate the birth of Christ, the Church clearly confessed her faith that God had indeed taken flesh and chose to live here among men.

The sun sets on the night of Christmas Day but the celebration is not over.  There are 12 days of Christmas of course, as I discussed in my previous post on the Russian Orthodox Traditions of Christmas, leading up to Epiphany in which we celebrate the Birth of Our Lord and Savior with family and friends.  And there is the rest of the year to come in which we recall not only the Birth of our Lord, but His life on earth, His teachings, and, most importantly, His suffering, death and RESURRECTION!                  His birth leads to His RESURRECTION - which gives us eternal life.   wpid-IMG_20131210_153127_002.jpg

That can't be over in one day.

Continue the celebration.  Keep the LOVE of CHRIST in your heart..keep the magic in your heart - keep the spirit of wanting to give, wanting to smile, wanting to celebrate Christ alive in your soul not just on Christmas Day, but today, tomorrow and all the days of the rest of your life.  May God grant you many many many years to do so!