This year Theophany lands on Sunday, the 19th of January. Theophany, the feast and commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, used to coincide with the celebration of the Nativity (Christmas). But over the centuries separate celebrations developed.
When Jesus went to the Jordan, where John was preaching and baptizing, the people were gathering for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Jesus, being perfect and sinless, had nothing to repent or be cleansed of. So what happened? The reverse. Instead of the waters cleansing and sanctifying Him, He sanctified the water.
So a tradition developed: The Great Blessing of Water. On Theophany, Orthodox Christians all over the world gather at bodies of water, to bless the water as Christ did two-thousand years ago. The traditions take different forms, but they all entail a dipping or tossing of a cross into the body of water. In some places holes are cut in the ice or ice crosses are erected, and sometimes people will follow the cross into the water to retrieve it.
Here in Los Alamos, after our celebration of the Divine Liturgy on that Sunday morning, we will process to our local body of water, Ashley Pond. There we will say the prayers of the Great Blessing and I will toss a cross into the water three times. We will also bless some bottled water for the faithful to consume over the coming year, and some of which we will use to bless the homes of the faithful in the coming weeks.
Saint Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Christian Church would like to invite you to join us for the blessing. It will begin near 12 noon at Ashley Pond, or you are welcome to join us for the Divine Liturgy and walk with us afterward. Service begins at 10am. For more information please contact Father Theophan at 575.915.6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.