Suquehanna River blessed in observance of Theopany

Jan. 20—LEWISBURG — Members of the Bucknell Orthodox Christian community and St. John's Russian Orthodox Mission Church in Lewisburg participated in a blessing of the Susquehanna River for Theophany on Friday.

The Feast of Theophany celebrates the baptism of Jesus, Father Paul Siewers explained. "He was baptized, according to the Bible, in the River of Jordan," he said. "At that point he was about 30 and was revealed in his public ministry."

At the same time, the trinity was also revealed with the voice of the father recognizing Jesus as the son and the dove representing the Holy Spirit, Siewers said.

Theophany means revelation or insight, according to Siewers. "There were all those sorts of revelations, according to the Christian tradition," he said. "It's an ancient Christian holiday that is still celebrated in many countries."

Members of the congregation met for liturgy at the Lewisburg church Friday morning and had communion. Normally, the group would march to the river holding banners and singing, but, because of the weather, they traveled separately and met at the river, Siewers said.

At the waterside, the group performed, the "Great Blessing of the Waters," according to Siewers. "It represents that we believe Jesus actually blessed all of creation and all the waters of the earth when he was baptized in the Jordan," he said.

The ceremony included the chanting of blessings and the throwing of a cross into the water. Though custom in some places, no one involved in the Lewisburg celebration dove into the water Friday.

When Jesus was baptized, the water in the river of Jordan began flowing the other way, according to Luke Soboleski, of the church. Something remarkable about today's blessings of the waters is that the water in the river of Jordan still begins flowing the other way when the cross is thrown into the water, Sobelski said.

The group said prayers for the Middle East during Friday's gathering, Siewers added. "May there be peace for the Middle East," he said. "It's a bad time over there, but we had prayers for them today too."

Over the next few weeks, the Father will traveled to homes of members of the congregation to bless their living spaces with the holy water, he said.