"The renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning.”
~St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 293-373AD)
This evening, Orthodox Christians around the world will commemorate the Feast of Epiphany (also called Theophany). In this feast we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ and His baptism in the Jordan. The Creator immerses Himself in creation so that He Himself may redeem that creation. Water will become one of the visible symbols He uses over and over again to help us understand the work of regeneration and restoration He is doing among us.
In honor of the day, I offer you these words on water from Tertullian's Treatise on Baptism (c. 200AD). Introductory paragraph by Robert Louis Wilken.
Water, he [Tertullian] says, was the first element "to produce things that would live." It is not surprising that water, ordinary water, used in baptism "already knows how to give life." Through the presence of the Holy Spirit water that was precious in itself "took on the ability to make holy." So much is water part of God's way of relating to human beings, he [Tertullian] writes, that
"Christ was never without water.
He himself was baptized with water;
when invited to a marriage He inaugurates the exercise of His power with water;
when talking He invites the thirsty to partake of His own everlasting water;
when teaching about charity He approves among the works of love the offering of a cup of water to a neighbor;
He refreshes His strength at a well-side;
He walks on water;
He crosses it at will;
He uses water to do an act of service to his disciples.
This witness to baptism continues right up to the Passion.
When he is handed over to the cross, water plays a part (witness Pilate's hands);
and when He is pierced, water gushes from His side."
Tomorrow morning, our congregation will gather on the banks of the Harpeth in Franklin for the blessing of the waters at 10:00am. You are welcome to join us.