Theophany Service

Published on 8 January 2024 at 11:00

On Saturday, 6th January 2024, with the blessing and encouragement of His Grace Bishop Raphael we celebrated as our first service of the year.

We began with Matins which concluded with the Great Blessing of Waters, appointed for the Feast of Theophany, during which Fr Nikita made a commemoration of the Founders and Benefactors of the parish, as well as of all Christians present in the service by name.

The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom followed during which many of our faithful received communion.

The singers who graced our first service were Mr Efstathios Mentzas, protopsaltis of the Church of the Three Holy Hierarchs in Leeds who sang in Greek, and Miss Liliana Banev, our lead chanter, who sang in English and in Slavonic.

The congregation which gathered for the celebration included numerous guests from the Anglican and Catholic churches in the town, most notably Fr Paul Kronbergs, the priest-in-charge of the Anglican Church of St Columba.

Holy Communion

Sermon on Theophany

"When you were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest!"

Happy Feast!  Χρόνια πολλά!

Pascha, it is Easter today in the middle of winter: the resurrection of our church community which is able to celebrate again. For a number of years now, as most of you know, the doors of the church have been closed and now they have opened again -- with the blessing of our bishops, Archbishop Nikitas and Bishop Raphael, and with the help of many friends, of Fr Andreas and Fr Paul, and of many of you.

Indeed, a new beginning and a cause of joy in the life of the Middlesbrough Orthodox community of the Annunciation!

For us Christians, the one and only true new beginning is our baptism. This is what today's feast calls to our mind and this is the reason why, at the end of Matins, we blessed the church with holy water. We did this celebrating the Great Blessing of Waters, which is a service that includes the same prayers which are said when someone is baptized.

Our hymns today remind us that we Christians are all born out of the font -- the womb of our mother the Church. She is blessed to have given birth to countless number of children. And we, her children, are blessed with the special anointing of the Holy Spirit to be called---and to be---Christ's own, Christ's Body, His chosen people.

We prepared for our readings from the New Testament today singing the words of the Apostle Paul, As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. These words speak of our nakedness, of our sins before our baptism---for candidates for baptism are naked when they step down into the font---but also of the new garment of light which we put on emerging from the font, so that the light of Christ may shine in our hearts and guide us, that we may think and do those things that are pleasing to God. In our baptism we also received the seal of the Spirit, with the pledge and assurance that the Spirit will guide us into all truth.

At Christ's Baptism, the Spirit appeared as a Dove to confirm the Word spoken by the Father: This is my beloved Son---that this word is sure and abides forever. We, who put on Christ in our baptism, also call God our Father. In addressing God as our Father, we may also rest secure in the knowledge that we too are the beloved ones of God, his beloved sons and daughters.

Today every baptised Christian, everyone who takes and drinks of the holy water blessed in our churches is called to make a new beginning hearing afresh these eternal words:

"You are my beloved child. On you my favour rests" (Mark 1:11).


Fr Nikita