Great Blessing of Water – Yukon Style

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December 31, 2012 by Orthodox Whitehorse

This year, for the first time since 2009, the service of the “Great Blessing of the Waters” will be served at the Yukon River.

This short service – it takes about 15 minutes or so – will take place this year on Sunday January 6th, 2013 at 12 noon at the Rotary Centennial Footbridge in Whitehorse, immediately following the Divine Liturgy at the Yukon Transportation Museum. During the Blessing service, traditional hymns are sung and a Cross is submerged into the water three times. Though the weather will be chilly, all are warmly invited to attend.

This blessing is carried out each year in the Orthodox Church on the Feast of Theophany, which commemorates the Baptism of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ. The word “Theophany” literally means God-Shining, or Divine-revealing. The Gospel accounts teach us that when Christ was baptized, the voice of God the Father was heard and the Holy Spirit was visibly seen descending in the form of a dove. In this way, the Baptism of Christ was one of the most dramatic witnesses to the truth of the One God, revealed in Three Persons – the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Fr. John Bingham, together with members of the St. Nikolai Mission community, blessing the Yukon River, Theophany 2009.

Fr. John Bingham, together with members of the St. Nikolai Mission community, blessing the Yukon River, Theophany 2009.

The Feast of Theophany also reveals many other deep and magnificent truths about the nature of our God, who draws near to us in love. The Christian God is the humble one – Jesus Christ. The Scriptures teach us that “by Him all things were created,” (Colossians 1.16), and yet He humbled Himself to enter the waters of the Jordan River, to be baptised by John. By the very act of entering into these waters, Jesus showed that He is the Redeemer of all Creation. In the Old Testament, water often symbolized chaos and disorder – such as in the Flood of Noah. When Jesus Christ entered the waters to be baptised, He enacted the renewal of redemption of Creation, bringing about harmony and healing. In this way, the Feast of Theophany stands as a powerful witness to the renewal of all things in Jesus Christ.

A recently made short film about the Blessing of the Waters in Bristol Bay, Alaska, reminds us of part of this meaning of the Feast.

Please feel free to join us for the Blessing of the Yukon River!

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