19 January (6 January according to the old style) Orthodox Christians celebrate the day of Epiphany. On this day, the Orthodox Church remembers how John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Jesus Christ lived with His Mother in the small town of Nazareth until the age of thirty, helping the elderly stepfather Joseph in carpentry. Jesus showed almost no self as a messiah, and people considered him one of Joseph's children. When the time came for him to begin his public service, God in a special vision commanded the prophet John the Baptist, who lived in the desert, to come forward with a nationwide preaching of repentance and to baptize all the penitents in the Jordan River as a sign of their desire to be cleansed from their sins.
John was the son of the priest of Zechariah (of the family of Aaron) and the righteous Elizabeth (of the kind of King David). The very birth of John the Baptist was wonderful. All her life Elizabeth and her husband, priest Zacharias, spent in prayers to God for the gift of a child, and only when the pious parents were already in very advanced years did they have a son named John. He was born six months before Jesus Christ.
The place where the prophet John began the ministry was called the wilderness of Judea, located on the west coast of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Evangelicals call John the Baptist a voice crying in the wilderness, because he loudly called out to people: "Prepare the way for the Lord, make his way straight" - calling all people to repentance. Responding to this call, John baptized, according to the evangelist Luke, "the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." It was not yet Christian baptism, but only immersion in the water as a symbol of the penitent who wants to be cleansed of sins, like water that cleanses him from bodily impurity.
John the Baptist was a strict ascetic, wore rough clothes from camel's hair and ate acrid (genus of locusts) and wild honey. He was the opposite of the modern instructors of the Jewish people, and his preaching about the approach of the Messiah, the arrival of which so many expected, attracted universal attention. The Jewish historian Josephus Flavius testified that "the people admired by the teachings of John were flocking to him in a great multitude."
Then, among other people, John came to Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee to be baptized from him. John never met Jesus before, and therefore did not know who he was. But when Jesus approached him for baptism, John as a prophet felt his holiness, sinlessness and superiority over himself, so he confessed in bewilderment: "I need to be baptized from You, and Do you come to me?" "So it behooves us to fulfill all righteousness," Jesus answered meekly. By this he confirmed the holiness and greatness of John's actions, and gave future Christians an example of obedience to the will of God and humility.
Being baptized, Jesus, according to the evangelist, prayed that God would bless the beginning of his ministry. At that moment the heavens were opened, and John the Baptist saw the Spirit of God, who descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove.
The pigeon was seen also by the people, for the purpose of this miracle was to show the people of the Son of God in the unknown Jesus Christ. At the same time, everyone heard the words of God the Father: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." They pointed to John the Baptist and the people present at the divine dignity of the baptized Jesus Christ. These words were the answer of God the Father to the prayer of His Son for the blessing of the feat of the salvation of mankind.
The Orthodox Church calls the baptism of the Lord God-given, because Jesus Christ, after baptism, showed himself to the world as the Savior and the Messiah. In this event, the Holy Trinity was revealed to the people: God the Father - by the voice from heaven, God the Son - by the baptism from John in the Jordan, God the Holy Spirit - by the dove that came to Jesus Christ.
For a Christian, the Sacrament of Baptism is the door to the Kingdom of Light. "Elysev in Christ is baptized, in Christ will be taken prisoner," is sung at the festive service. This means: who is baptized into Christ, he is clothed in clothes
Christ's righteousness, and, being like Him, becomes a participant in His holiness. The power of baptism is that the baptized receives the ability and the power to love God and his fellowmen. This Christian love attracts a Christian to a righteous life and helps him overcome sins.
The beginning of the feast of the Epiphany dates back to the apostolic times. It is mentioned in the Apostolic decrees.
Until the fifth century it was customary to recall the birth and baptism of Jesus Christ in one day - 6 January - and this holiday was called the Epiphany. Then the Christmas celebration was postponed to 25 December (according to the Julian calendar, or the old style). This was the beginning of the saints, ending in the Evening, or the Christmas Eve of the Baptismal Feast. The word "on the eve" means the eve of the church celebration, and the second name "Christmas Eve" (sobornik) is associated with the tradition on this day to cook a wheaten dough with honey and raisins - osovo.
In view of the importance of the event that took place in the coming day in the life of Jesus Christ, the church established a one-day fast after the holy days. It is from here that the tradition began to brew ozero, which is not mandatory, but so convenient that it has become a tradition everywhere. The believers define the measure of fasting individually and according to their strengths. On this day, as on Christmas Eve, people do not eat food until the candle is removed after the liturgy (service) in the morning and the first communion of the baptismal water.
On Christmas Eve, after the Liturgy, a great consecration of water is performed in the temples. The water consecration is called the great by the special solemnity of the ritual, imbued with the remembrance of the Baptism of the Lord, which became not only the way of purification from sins, but also the actual sanctification of the very nature of water through the immersion of God in the flesh. This water is called Agiosma or baptismal water.
Under the influence of the Jerusalem statute, from the 11th-12th centuries the watering process takes place twice - on the Epiphany and on the Feast of the Epiphany. Sanctification on both days is of the same rank, therefore, the water consecrated these days is no different.
In the ancient church, this was due to the fact that on the eve of the feast the baptism of catechumens (who accepted and adopted the Christian doctrine) was performed. For the sake of this sacrament, the first great water consecration was performed.
The difference between the first and second consecration was that in the Epiphany Epiphany, the waterworks were performed in the churches where the catechumens were baptized, and on the day of the feast of the Epiphany, Christians went to the Jordan River.
In the first centuries (including the 4th and 5th centuries), a great water consecration took place only in the Jerusalem Church, where it used to go to the Jordan River to the place where Jesus Christ was baptized. Later began to arrange the "Jordan" and other places where there were rivers or lakes.
To the consecrated bogyavlenskoy water Christians since ancient times have great reverence, it is sacred. Christ was baptized and sanctified the nature of the waters, and therefore the baptismal water is brought home and stored all year round. And this water does not deteriorate and sometimes remains fresh for two or three years.
In the Russian Orthodox Church and the people, such an attitude has developed to the Epiphany water, that it is taken only on an empty stomach as a great shrine. It is used to sprinkle temples and dwellings, with prayers for the expulsion of the evil spirit, and also as a cure for diseases.
As an additional post-and extra-attendance (and not mandatory) exercises in the Orthodox and not only in Orthodox countries, it is sometimes practiced immersion in water. In Russia, they sink to the Jordan (a specially built font), in Greece, young men jump behind the cross, which the priest throws into the waters of the sea, and compete in the one who first gets it. It is folk-folklore continuations of the theological meaning of the holiday, which for Orthodox believers consists primarily in the remembrance of the baptism of Jesus Christ from John in the Jordan River.
According to the clergy, immersion in the water on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a touch to the shrine, the Christian worships not the water nature, but seeks to touch that consecrated water that is sanctified by the Deity's touching this water. This is a spiritual action and should be connected with prayer. For the Christian, more than enough to touch, taste the consecrated water and revere the feast with reverence, and not show heroism, plunging into water in the cold.
The material is prepared on the basis of information from RIA Novosti and open sources