In what is believed to be the first such service in Enid, the congregation of St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles Orthodox Christian Church conducted an Orthodox blessing of the waters Sunday, at Government Springs Park.
Worldwide, it is traditional for Orthodox Christians to bless natural bodies of water on the Orthodox Feast of Theophany, which celebrates Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and the appearance of the Holy Trinity in the interaction of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in the scriptural baptism narrative.
Theophany correlates to the Catholic and Protestant Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6 in the Gregorian calendar — used by most Western nations today — while Theophany is celebrated 13 days later, on Jan. 19 of the Gregorian calendar, which is Jan. 6 on the Julian calendar, still used by the Orthodox churches. In both the Gregorian and Julian calendars, Jan. 6 marks the culmination of the Christmas season.
Fr. Matthew Floyd, priest to the St. Nino congregations in Enid and Stillwater, said the annual water blessing celebrates Jesus’ baptism, and the importance of water in our lives.
“When we celebrate Theophany, we are essentially celebrating the public proclamation of the Trinity,” Floyd said. “Part of the idea is God works and comes to us through creative works. In the same way the Eucharist (Communion) starts with ordinary bread and ordinary wine, God also uses water for sanctified purposes as well.”
The St. Nino congregation began their Theophany celebrations with a Saturday evening blessing of holy water that will be used by the congregation in the coming year.
Floyd said the blessing is a way to celebrate God’s presence in everyday life.
“We bless water, and we take it into our homes, we drink and use it for our sanctification,” Floyd said. “But we also go to significant bodies of water and bless the water there.”
Floyd said he chose Government Springs for this first Orthodox blessing of the water in Enid because of the spring’s historic importance to the region. That importance carried through the cattle drives, the early settlement of Enid after the Land Run, and the park’s civic and social importance to the community.
“Government Springs became this center of the community, and it grew out from there,” Floyd said, “and we thought, in terms of Enid itself, this body of water had a lot of significance.”
After completing the blessing service, Floyd said the celebration calls on all people to not only seek God’s blessing, but to use the blessings we’ve received with care.
“God works through his creation, and we’re called to be responsible stewards of that creation,” Floyd said. “We’re also sanctified through the proper use of God’s creation. We can use creation in all sorts of disordered ways, but God blesses us with creation and all kinds of creative abilities, and we can choose to use those properly or not, we can choose to take care of those things or not, including our bodies of water, our land — everything.”
Floyd said the St. Nino congregation, which began serving in Enid in 2018, now has a membership about evenly split between Enid and Stillwater.
SOURCE: Enid News & Eagle