Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Baptism!

Instead of going back and writing about holidays already past, I'll tell you about what happened today.  Today is Baptism, when we celebrate Christ's baptism in the Jordan.  I didn't want to take our children to church today.  (They had a long day of church yesterday.  We had a great village visit!)  So, we stayed home, colored pictures of the story of Jesus' baptism and listened to it retold.  Then Will went off to church, and we went outside.

It is such a beautiful day!  People were going down to the water in droves, so we followed.  Everyone was giving holiday greetings, but they didn't quite look like the crowd I would have expected.  I was thinking that maybe we would finally get to see a water blessing service.  Instead it looked like most Russian holidays: an excuse to drink.  Everyone was undressing, jumping into a hole in the ice, then drinking vodka to warm up.  Not exactly a family-friendly atmosphere.  Still, Jaan said, "It's just like John and Jesus!"  We stopped to have our snack, and the group next to us was warming up.  I listened as they toasted, "Happy Baptism!"  Swallow down the vodka.  "Lord, forgive us!"  Repeat.

By then it was almost lunch and nap time, so we came home.  Will came in just as we did, and mentioned that he had overheard people saying that the water blessing would be at noon.  He suggested that I run back down with the camera, while he fed the children.  He didn't have to say that twice!

So, here you have a few lovely photographs of the event.  It was completely different down there the second time.


Mrs said...

The thought of that cold water makes my teeth ache and my brain freeze!

I will never understand winter. I will never understand people who strip down to their chonies and get into freezing water.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I didn't think your lake would freeze over that much.

And Mrs. is right. That is just crazy.

Raquel said...


Baba Julie said...

Ah... never mind my questions on FB! I get it, now!! Wow! I know that was great to see, although I think I would freeze just watching!! We are supposed to get 1 - 3 inches of snow tonight! That's enough for me!! (: Love, Julie

Allie said...

So what exactly is a water blessing service?

Anna said...

Is that the reservoir?? wow. That's amazing. Why is the ceremony in the middle of winter?

Shamassy Monica said...

What nice pics, Phyllis. They make me sing inside the hymn for the Feast of Theopany:

When Thou Oh Lord was baptized in the Jordan,
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
The voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee his Beloved Son,
And the Spirit in the likeness of a dove,
Confirmed the Truth of His Word.
Oh Christ, Our God, who has appeared and enlightened the world, Glory to Thee.

"Theophany" literally translating as "appearance" of God.

So many answers to Allie and Anna's questions come to mind. You can send them my way if they are really curious. In one most tiny sentence: Christ blessed the waters (and the whole earth) with his presence in the Jordan during his baptism, and the Church relives that moment and that blessing.

Phyllis, I'm sorry you had to experience the drunk part - what a contrast of worldy passions with the spiritual prayers. Although, I guess that is life on this earth, isn't it? Even in our own hearts: our spirits struggling against our flesh.

May God bless yall!

Phyllis said...

Thanks, Monica!

Allie, I linked to the Wikipedia article that explains it all pretty well.

Yes, Anna, that's the same "sea." Hard to believe! And the answer to your other question is very simple: because Jesus was baptized by John in the middle of winter, of course. :-) Or at least, that's when we celebrate His baptism. Jaan and I did have a good talk about the fact that the weather is very different in Israel!

Phyllis said...

Oh, I forgot to say:
Mrs, you are expanding my vocabulary. Stripped down to their WHATS? I looked it up in the dictionary and didn't find it.

Agape said...

Theophany is one of the greatest feast days in the Orthodox Church. I love it and have blogged about it for years- if your readers would like to go through my archives. Go to then go to the calendar in the bottom left hand side and go to Jan 6 of the previous year/s.

I am so glad you got to experience an Orthodox Theophany service. I wish more Baptists missionaries in Orthodox countries would take the time, you do, to try and understand Orthodoxy. I am sorry that you are so put off by the drinking. This to me just sounds like the need to stay warm! I am not a fan of getting drunk and it is certainly a problem in this country- especially among college students who drink, on purpose, to the point of throwing up. I will never understand that....

The atmosphere the second time you went, when the priest was there for the Blessing of the Waters service must have been very , very different. I love being Orthodox, first of all because I believe it is the Truth and because the Church truly lives the feasts of Christ's life and the Gospels , day in and day out, unchanged for thousands of years. You know I don't have a problem with you personally and I truly consider you a friend. I just wish more people were truly aware of the Orthodox Church, her teachings and the feasts of the Church. You can't judge the Church by secular people- that have never had proper teaching about their Christian faith. There are pious people and ignorant people but the Truth is the Truth.

I am glad Monica gave you and your readers so much information. It doesn't bother me that not everyone embraces Orthodoxy and I am not here to judge anyone. I am grateful to you Phyllis for sharing and making the effort to learn. I truly enjoyed all your photos! Thank you, Thank you , Thank you! I love the Universality of the Orthodox Church and I simple treasure seeing photos of Orthodoxy from around the world! Orthodoxy is so mis-understood in Protestant circles and there is much theological beauty and fullness of Christ that people miss out on when they can't get past the things that hold them back for going to the next step of exploration into the Faith. Once one truly knows. then you can clearly see the theologically glory that our feasts represent. It is truly walking and living with Christ and remembering Christ. I know Protestants look at the Orthodox as not having a personal relationship with Christ. I have been living the life and teaching of
Christ everyday of my life - the Church gives us the framework- through it's feast, through it's mysteries (sacraments) to know Christ, to have Christ in us. It is through these acts that year after year we , see, hear, taste and experience Christ. It is glorious!! We must love those, that in their ignorance, are "missing" the mark, but don't let that hold you back from truly experiencing these feasts for ourselves and keep us from judging one another. People do what they know and the drinking is a culture thing. Don't get hung up on the worldly details, dig deep into the Theologically representation of these great moments in the Church year. You will grow in your love and understanding for Christ and His Church more then you ever have before. Year after year when we go through the acts we gain spiritual maturity.

You and your readers may appreciate this information and Biblical explanation for the celebration of The Baptism of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

One thing to remember is that all our waterways are linked (we are a closed system of water here on Earth)so if you bless on body of water you bless all the Earth's water- pretty cool! Imagine all the water blessings over 2000 years!

Apolytikion in the First Tone

Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light."

Angel said...

brrr brr brr, I'm shivering just looking at those!