Mr. Zach Parker was exactly right when he stated in a recent column that the church calendar should be what shapes our lives. He noted in particular the Feast of Epiphany on Jan. 6, on which some celebrate the visitation of the Magi to the Christ-child.
There is more to this day that should not be overlooked, however. Jan. 6 is also traditionally a celebration of the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan. And this event is full of significance for mankind and for the creation as a whole. One of the Orthodox Church’s hymns for this feast puts it in these words:
“Prepare, O Zebulon, and adorn yourself, O Naphtali; river Jordan, cease flowing and receive with joy the Master coming to be baptized. Adam, rejoice with our First Mother and do not hide yourself as you did of old in Paradise; for having seen you naked, He has appeared to clothe you with the first garment. Christ has appeared to renew all creation.”
Another says, “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.”
Finally, the recently reposed Metropolitan Bishop Kallistos Ware writes in the Festal Menaion,
“When Christ went down into the waters, not only did he carry us down with Him and make us clean, but He also made clean the nature of the waters themselves... The feast of Theophany has thus a cosmic aspect. The fall of the angelic orders, and after it the fall of man, involved the whole universe. All God’s creation was thereby warped and disfigured: to use the symbolism of the liturgical texts, the waters were made a ‘lair of dragons.’ Christ came on earth to redeem not only man but through man the entire material creation. When He entered the water, besides effecting by anticipation our rebirth in the font, he likewise effected the cleansing of the waters, their transfiguration into an organ of healing and grace.”
Mr. Parker is right again when he closes his essay in saying that Christ is a sublime King. What He did for us at His baptism is truly awe-inspiring. When Jan. 6 comes around each year, then, let us worship Him that day in a fitting way.