Members of the Holy Cross Orthodox mission gathered on the banks of the Leaf River near Eastabuchie Sunday afternoon to observe the Orthodox Christian Tradition of blessing local bodies of water. 

This blessing is in conjunction with the celebration of Theophany which among western Christian traditions is known as Epiphany.

Following a short service of traditional hymns and Scripture readings, Fr. Alexis Baldwin approached the Leaf River and cast a cross into it three times while the members sang the troparion of Theophany, an ancient hymn of the Orthodox Church.

“When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan,

The worship of the Trinity was made manifest!

For the voice of the Father bore 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!”

In ancient times people understood the world to be composed of four elements of which one, water was primordial and permeated all creation, explained Baldwin.

“So, by blessing the waters, all creation is included in the blessing that both confers restorative grace into this fallen world and anticipates the restoration of the world in the age to come when Christ returns and makes all things new.

“To use a lighthearted, but helpful current analogy, when Chuck Norris wades into the water, he doesn’t get wet, the water gets Chucked.

“When Christ entered the waters of the Jordan to be baptized, He was not washed clean from sin, He instead Jesused the Jordan, so cleansing all who thereafter enter its waters to be freed from the power of sin and death.

“This, millions of Orthodox celebrate each year all over the world in the Great Blessing of the Water.”

Holy Cross Orthodox Mission is a mission parish of the Orthodox Church of America, Diocese of the South. It’s located at 521 E. Central Avenue, Suite B in Petal.