In the Byzantine tradition, the feast of the Theophany is perhaps most associated with the blessing of the waters – a tangible way of bringing the Jordan to every place celebrating the manifestation of God’s compassion to humanity. Or, better yet, in blessing the waters, the church thanks God for the baptism of Christ in the Jordan and acknowledges its saving power for us today, asking God to be merciful and save us. Although on the surface it might seem that the feast of the Theophany is less incarnational in emphasis than the feast of the Nativity, I don’t think that’s actually the case. Both feasts center upon Incarnation, although each in its own way. In a sense Theophany is the more earthy of the two; the material element of water and the image of Christ’s submitting to the waters of his baptism emphasize the materiality of the mystery of Christ in a unique way.

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