Great is the Feast that is past…

Brothers and Sisters,

I had one of those "moments of clarity" at Wednesday night’s Vespers for St. Seraphim, and I thought I should share it. This was the first day of the forefeast of Theophany, and in one of the stichera we sang (quoting from memory), "Great is the feast that is past (Nativity), but greater still is the feast which is to come (Theophany)." This doesn’t seem to reflect our usual attitude toward these two great feasts, does it? On Nativity, the church is usually full, while on Theophany it is often nearly empty. This "greater" feast is often little more than an afterthought, important only for the acquisition of holy water… After all, we’ve all gone back to work. Earthly cares oppress us, who has time left for church…

Why is Theophany, in the words of the church, "greater still" than Nativity? Because on Nativity God appears as a babe in the flesh, but on Theophany a mortal man lays his hand on the Lord of all, baptising him in the waters of the Jordan and sanctifying all of creation. Because on Nativity God was born, but on Theophany he appeared openly to all, revealing the life of the Holy Trinity and beginning his saving ministry on our behalf. Let us worship him!

Nicholas

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