'When thou O Lord wast baptised in the Jordan ...'
Well, it's like buses. You don't get any Festivals for a while and then they all suddenly come at once ...
Christmas, then Epiphany ... now it's Theophany (at least it is on the Eastern Calendar).
At the invitation of an Orthodox friend, I bobbed down to the beer garden around the back of The White Lion in Barthomley this afternoon to observe the annual 'blessing of the waters'. A well chosen location. Running water, shelter in case it rains ... and the splendid half-timbered and unspoilt pub to retreat to afterwards.
A Methodist lady joined us from a funeral in the nearby parish church (very historic and well worth the visit in itself). She sussed that I was a fellow 'spectator' and wondered whether I'd partaken of the 'blessed' water (from a bottle not from the stream) and kissed the cross after it'd been dipped into the running waters below. I'd done both, knowing that it's permissible for Christians of other persuasions to do so. I encouraged her to do the same if she felt it was appropriate.
She was hesitant but did so after Fr Samuel said, 'If you love the Lord, you can kiss his cross.'
'Well,' she said, afterwards. 'I've learned something new today. That was a completely new experience.'
I've seen water blessings before, but not at Theophany. And being an awkward and reductionist Prod, I've wondered how long the blessing lasts. Does it wear off during the year and need repeating annually?
Of course, it's a way of remembering the baptism of Christ and the significance of that event, when, as the Orthodox hymn has it, 'the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.'
That's quite something.
'When Thou O Lord wast baptised in the Jordan,
The worship of the Trinity was made manifest,
For the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee
and called Thee his beloved Son!
And the Spirit in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself
and hast enlightened the world,
Glory to Thee!'
And there's a CAMRA branch-meeting at my local this evening.
And that's a picture of The White Lion over there ... it's unfeasibly quaint.
Lots of Festivals and some liquid refreshment. Can't be bad.
In moderation, of course.
PS - I skipped the Ephiphany communion. You can have too much of a good thing ...