The apolotikion we chant on our Lord’s baptism reminds us of another extraordinary event that changed the course of this world.
“At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the Father’s voice bore You witness, by calling You His beloved Son, and the Spirit in the form of a dove, confirmed the truth of the Father’s Word. O Christ our God, You have appeared to us and enlightened the world. Glory to You!”
This hymn confirms for us Orthodox Christians that Christ came to enlighten the whole world! The glorious hymns we sing during the Feast of Epiphany illustrate the powerful way that creation joins in the restoration of humankind.
We are overjoyed on this day because we honor how creation participates with us in glorifying and praising God. The trees, the birds, the wind, the water, everything seeks to be united with its creator. God promises to re-integrate and draw all closer to Himself, the earth, the water, trees, shrubs… Our church proclaims God’s sanctification of all. Our church celebrates that all creation belongs to Him and He in turn, gives it back to us in abundance.
Another hymn proclaims:
“For today the time for feasting has come and the choir of the saints holds assembly with us, and angels celebrate with men. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came upon the waters. Today the unwaning sun has dawned and the world is lit up with the light of the Lord.”
“Today the moon with its brilliant rays shares its light with the earth. Today the luminous stars embellish the universe with their joyous luster. Today the clouds refresh humanity with a rain of justice from above….Today all of creation is watered by mystical waters. Today paradise is opened to all humankind.”
Paradise is open to everyone! Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy In Christ (Ephesians 4:23-24). You see, God became man, so that man can become like God and as we become Christlike, we learn to respect and honor His environment! When taking walks or driving together as a family, let us notice the sunsets, the mountains, the waters that gloriously stand before us!
We also see how God’s creation participates in salvation. As Orthodox Christians, we honor a tree that Jesus used as the vehicle to trample death upon death. The cross, the tree of life, which participates in our salvation, and elements of God’s creation continue to be instrumental in our healing.
Human clay has been mixed with the divine essence. This means that God can and will use anything to save and heal us. Fr. Andrew Anglorus helps us consider how creation participates in our healing and salvation. He writes:
“Clay cannot heal the blind and yet with the breath of God, it becomes the container for the healing grace of God. Water cannot heal and yet the water of baptism heals because the blessed water bears the Holy Spirit.
Oil cannot heal and yet the oil of chrismation and unction heal because they are filled with the grace of God. A piece of cloth cannot heal and yet a priest’s stole can heal through the grace of Christ at the sincere confession of sins and the repentant intention not to sin again.
Bread and wine cannot heal and yet bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ heal through the Holy Spirit. Wood and paint cannot heal and yet icons can heal by the Holy Spirit Who penetrates into their material essence and radiates grace from them. Christ teaches us then that all things can be used for our healing and benefit and salvation, but that they must first be touched by His grace.
In this way our bodies, mere flesh and bones and blood, can become containers of Christ. Our souls activated, we can become lamps of the Holy Spirit; the eyes of our souls, the doors of perception, become seeing, and we see the whole of God’s Creation as it really is. We see that every blade of grass and every hill, every tree and every cloud, every drop of rain and every ocean, all creatures and all people, are miracles of God’s handiwork!!!”
May we find a way to realize the sacredness of life and lead a life worthy of our calling becoming humble and gentle, being united in the spirit binding ourselves together in peace centering our life in Christ.