On the Eve of Theophany at the Great Blessing of Water, we gather and the priest, wearing full vestments, calls down God’s blessing upon the water and plunges into it the Cross to recall Christ sanctifying the Jordan. The service concludes with the blessing of the entire church and all the people by sprinkling the water, while all come and partake of this newly prepared Holy Water. This event also marks the beginning of the annual blessing of homes of the faithful.
However, there is a second blessing of water often served at Theophany. This blessing is that of a body of clean water—a river, spring, creek, or even a lake. It is conducted in the exact same way as the “inside” blessing of water, but includes a procession to the water, with the faithful led by the Cross, the Gospel, banners, and torches. The Cross is once again immersed in the water, sometimes by throwing, marking the sanctification of the water by Christ, its Creator. If the Cross is thrown, it is often retrieved with a cord, or, in more adventurous circumstances, by swimmers diving for it. (This is just fun in coastal Florida, but the thought of diving into the icy waters of a Russian lake in winter makes me turn blue simply thinking about it!)
The Chapel of the Holy Spirit has served the outdoor blessing of water for the past couple of years in Beaver Springs, sanctifying the waters of a creek that flows through the area. Doing so has not only edified our Chapel faithful, but also the surrounding community. Last year’s blessing also resulted in newspaper coverage, along with a follow-up article on the Sunday of the Cross two months later.
Encouraged by the positive reception of the outdoor blessing of water at the Chapel, Holy Trinity will also hold this outdoor blessing this upcoming Theophany. The faithful are invited to Spring Creek Park on Sunday, January 12, following the Liturgy, for a short procession and the service of sanctification. At the same time we will bless the waters in Beaver Springs, bringing the two communities of the parish together in common worship and celebration. (Spring Creek is an excellent choice, as rehabilitation efforts have resulted in a clean, thriving stream, which flows through a large portion of Centre County, from five miles east of State College to Milesburg. That the Holy Spirit would be called down upon this creek for the sanctification of the world is fitting.)
Mark your calendars now for this special event on Sunday, January 12, and plan to celebrate our Lord’s Baptism, and the sanctification of the waters, with us at the Chapel in Snyder County or at Holy Trinity in State College.