Thursday, January 6, 2011

Theophany Thoughts from St. John Chrysostom

Today is the Feast of Theophany (sometimes called Epiphany) in the Orthodox Church here in America.  Last night as I was preparing myself for today's feast I read Isaiah 35:1-10, and for whatever reason, it really caught my attention.  Then again this morning I heard it chanted during the Blessing of the Waters and it sounded even more magnificent than just reading it.  Here it is:

1 The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
The excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
“ Be strong, do not fear!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.
7 The parched ground shall become a pool,
And the thirsty land springs of water;
In the habitation of jackals, where each lay,
There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Perhaps it is the fact that I live in the desert and I see the barrenness, the inhospitably of it all that the thought of it in bloom with free-flowing water and reed and rushes....well...that would be simply heavenly.  This scripture sort of raised me out of the dry dirt for a moment.  I guess you have to live here to understand what desert life is like.  A day of rain can make the desert paradise. 

Anyhow, back to our regularly scheduled program...below you will find a link to a discourse on the Feast of Theophany.  In being true to his personality, St. John Chrysostom begins with this:

We shall now say something about the present feast. Many celebrate the feastdays and know their designations, but the cause for which they were established they know not. Thus concerning this – that the present feast is called Theophany – everyone knows. But what this is – Theophany – and whether it be one thing or another, they know not. This is shameful – to celebrate the feastday annually, and not know its meaning.
I love that part in bold (my emphasis) pointing out how shameful it is to celebrate a feast and not know its meaning.  He's right, it is shameful.  You wouldn't show up at someone's house for a party and not know for what reason! 

You'll find the rest here from the OCA website.  Additionally, I had another post which mentioned today's feast if you are interested found here.

More St. John tomorrow.

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