…icons in our churches do the same. The medium, the image becomes the message. And, reading this icon of the Incarnation and Revelation of Christ our God at His Baptism we get the message, of assurance and confidence that at Baptism, we are graced by God with this gift of the Holy Spirit, energized and armed with faith hope and love to be co-heirs with Jesus Christ and inheritors of a life to come in the Kingdom.
The Gospel accounts of the awesome day when our Lord’s identity was revealed clearly tell us that as “…the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'” ( John 1:29-34 and Mark 1: 10-11), the doors to the Eternal Kingdom are opened to us as we become sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
The message is echoed repeatedly in the Liturgies blessing services of Theophany in the Armenian Church. Just look for a moment at the rocks, the flora, the symbolic geometric shapes, the angels attending the Lord, the rays of light shining upon Christ, the hand of God pointing to Him, the Holy Spirit of God in the form of a Dove resting upon Him. All are arranged in a single line from top to bottom, affirming the truthfulness of this message. These are all important components placed here to help us better understand what the image is revealing to us about the heavenly persons of Father, Son, The Holy Spirit [the ONE TRUE God]- that through The Holy Trinity- one in essence, all is made complete as we stay in line with the Lord.
On January 6th both the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ our Saving Lord become one as we call the feast Asdvadzahaydnootiun, or the Revelation of God, a Greek word we still use – Theophany [the shining forth of God].
St. John Chrysostom, a most important and much-revered saint of the Universal Church, tells us that the birth of Jesus, as Messiah was only the beginning of God’s revelation in the world, and that with Him everything is included for a life never-ending.
Yeshua’s birth announced and heralded by the angels and His Baptism by John in the Jordan River inaugurates His Messianic mission. All that everyone was searching for, waiting to arrive, has come to pass. The God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God in three Persons/ The Holy Trinity/ has been revealed to us.
St. Basil’s prayer read during the Blessing of the Water service affirms – Today the Triune Godhead has revealed Himself on earth and the entire world is full of his glory. The Father testifies from heaven saying, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. And the Holy Spirit comes down upon Him in the likeness of a dove.
This Good Tiding shines eternal, as Christ God as Son of the Creator, steps into the Jordan River and with words personifying the Jordan River as a human says, O River [ whom I have created] don’t be afraid of me, I am your Creator and have come to be baptized and I wash away the failures of man, called sin… ‘Ked mi zarhourhir, ko araritch yem yes, yegyal mgrdim, yev lvanum uzmeghs’
Thousands of words in prayer and song speak and sing to us through this icon giving us the same message, the same hope, the same confidence, and spiritual energies, dispelling fear and giving endurance and conviction to us in this world where human failures, weaknesses and sin seem to wear us down. But we take heart because in Christ, Emanuel GOD WITH US IS everything is made possible, everything that humankind needs for Salvation, everything is here to get us up and running in full swing- a blessing indeed!
May Our Father the God of Love, His never-ending presence in Jesus Son and by His power from the Holy Spirit assure us that with Christ ‘ everything is included.