Theophany, to be celebrated later this week on January 6th, is the Feast Day celebrating the manifestation of God because at the time of baptism (Christ baptized by John in the Jordan) God revealed Himself to people as the Holy Trinity( found in Matt. 3:16):
- God the father spoke from Heaven
- Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God was baptised
- The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove
Troparian of the Feast
When Thou was baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!
Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church. When we pray we make the sign of the cross. The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD. Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith. The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
It is a terrible thing to believe in many gods. Orthodox Christians do not believe in more than one God. God is One but is a Trinity in Three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is not three Gods. It is one God in three Persons, the Trinity in one essence and indivisible. All three Persons have the same divine rank; there is not one higher than the other. All three are the same true God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is anchored in Scripture. Our Lord Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt. 28:19) He did not use the plural word ‘names’. It is used in a singular form. St. Paul spoke of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” in 2 Corinthians 13:14. St. Peter also mentions the Trinity in his first letter, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ ….elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
There are also indications of the Trinity in the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image and likeness”. Yet the next verse states, “And God made man in His image and likeness” (Genesis 1:27). Obviously the plural us and our suggests more than one but is followed up by the singular his. This is evidence of the Trinity. Further evidence that knowledge of the Trinity occurs in the Old Testament is that the Hebrew word for God, “Elohim”, is plural yet it takes a verb in the singular, and if an adjective goes with it, that too is in the singular.
The Trinity is a difficult concept. Analogies have been made (i.e. There are many sacred books gathered together into one book called the Bible or water has three forms: solid, liquid and gas but remains being water) but none have mastered the conceptualization. God is just so great that He will remain beyond our comprehension while in this earthly life. But it’s not that we can’t understand God at all. The purpose of the Trinity is to help reveal God to us. The word ‘God’ is described more fully through the Trinity because one cannot come close to understanding the fullness of God without knowing ‘”the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14).
My hope is the Father,
My refuge is the Son,
My Protection is the Holy Spirit,
Glory to Thee.
~An Orthodox Prayer
One further note before concluding… This feast is also sometimes referred to as Epiphany by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus. The term epiphany does appear in some of the service texts for this feast… ~ excerpt from OrthodoxWiki