Saturday, January 4, 2014

Great Blessing of the Waters (modern adaptation of rite)


Rite for the Great Blessing of the Waters
Celebrated by Trinity Episcopal Church
& the Ashland Youth Collective
Ashland, Oregon
Epiphany 2014
--The Rev. Fr. Anthony Hutchinson, SCP, Ph.D.

The Great Blessing of the Waters is celebrated in the Eastern tradition after the vespers divine liturgy on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany [Theophany], and after the Eucharistic liturgy on the feast day itself.   It begins with the chanting of special hymns with the incensing of the water, and concludes with bible readings, petitions and prayers.

Today we bless God for the waters,
The good gift that brings life and joy,
And which God has used in diverse ways
To bless us, give us life, and make us and God’s whole creation holy. 

A Reading from the Gospel of St. Mark
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (1:9-11)
Hear what the Spirit  is saying to God’s People.
All:  Thanks be to God. 

Celebrant:  Let us walk together with Jesus to the Waters. 

ALL (sung to Bunesson "Morning has Broken"; as the group processes to the water’s side):

Jordan bursts forth and turns back her water
When she beholds our Jesus draw near,
He asks John for washing, sign for a new- heart, 
Though he has no fault or sin to fear.
Prepare now God’s highway,” was John’s- loud witness,
And you came, Jesus, and answered his call,
Humbled before him, though you were spot-less,
Doing this for us, as you did all. 
The wa-ters saw it and fell back in wonder.
The heav’ns split and God’s- breath- rushed down
John- fell silent, hearing it thun-der,
“This is my one child, the loved one, my own.”

Sanctify, Jesus, both us and the waters,
Fount- of all Life, Source of all Light.
Bring all refreshment, restore us to goodness,
Return all to Eden’s blissful delight. 

(At the waters’ side:)
A reading from the Gospel of John: 
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that everyone who trusts in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but that it might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17)  Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s People.

All:  Thanks be to God.

God sent his child Jesus not to condemn, but to save.  Jesus came not only to save our souls, but to save our bodies, and not only to save human beings, but to save all of creation. 

Blessed are You, O God. 
Your works are full of wonder.
No words can sing truly Your grace. 
Of Your own will You brought all things into being,
By Your love You uphold all of creation,
By Your care You set the universe in order.
And it is good, very good.

In You we live, and move, and have our being. 

The sun sings to You,
the moon glorifies You,
the stars dance together before Your face,
the light obeys You,
the rainbows fall at your feet,
the deep shudders before You,
the waters spring up to serve You. 

In You we live, and move, and have our being. 

We confess Your grace,
We proclaim Your mercy,
We give thanks for Your acts of loving kindness and power.
In becoming flesh, You have set free our mortal nature.
By Your birth You made holy the Blessed Virgin Mary, your Mother, 
And made possible for all creation a way of returning to your bliss. 
All creation praises You,
Who have so manifested Yourself in our world among us. 

You took on flesh and dwelt as one of us.

(Censing the water)
For You, our God, appeared upon earth and lived as one of us.
(Placing a cross in the water and withdrawing it)
You sanctified the Jordan by being baptized in it.
(Making the sign of the cross three times over the water)
Therefore, O Master,
+ be present here now by the descent of the Holy Spirit,
         and sanctify this water.

+Give it the blessing of Jordan.
Make it a fountain of health and life,
Bringing verdure to the desert
And holiness to our broken world.

+May these waters be for us a symbol and source
         of cleansing, of healing,
         And casting away our fears, demons, and failings. 

Bless this water, Savior, and bless us.   
(The Celebrant sprinkles the people with the water; the people cross themselves.)

All: (sung, to Dundee "The People that in Darkness Dwelt")

When God began to make the earth,
It had no shape or form,
But God’s breath blew and gave it birth,
And calmed the waters’ storm.  

A dry and barren place arose;
No water then was seen.
But God made rise the mists and dews
Where only dust had been.

Rivers spring up in Eden then:
Four streams of water swell,
And trees and grass, and flowers and fruit
Watered from God’s own well. 

Jesus the Well-Spring of all Life,
now calls us, beckoning:
“Whoever thirsts, come to my side;
Drink from my living spring.”

Celebrant: Let us return to our starting point, chanting Psalm 104 together. 

Psalm 104   Benedic, anima mea

1       Bless the Lord, O my /soul; *
     O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!
     you are clothed with ma\jes/ty \and \splendor.

2       You wrap yourself with light as with a /cloak *
     and spread out the hea\vens /like \a \curtain.

3       You lay the beams of your chambers in the waters ab/ove; *
     you make the clouds your chariot;
     you ride on \the /wings \of the \wind.

4       You make the winds your /mes\sengers *
     and flames \of /fire \your \servants.

5       You have set the earth upon its foun/da\tions, *
     so that it never shall move \at /a\ny \time.

6       You covered it with the Deep as with a /man\tle; *
     the waters stood high\er /than \the \mountains.

7       At your rebuke they /fled; *
     at the voice of your thunder \they /hastened \a\way.

8       They went up into the hills and down to the valleys be/neath, *
     to the places you had \ap/pointed \for \them.

9       You set the limits that they should not /pass; *
     they shall not again /co\/ver \the \earth.

10    You send the springs into the /val\leys; *
     they flow \bet/ween \the \mountains.

11    All the beasts of the field drink their /fill \from them, *
     and the wild as\ses /quench \their \thirst.

12    Beside them the birds of the air make their /nests *
     and sing \a/mong \the \branches.

13    You water the mountains from your dwelling on /high; *
     the earth is fully satisfied by the fru\it /of \your works.

14    You make grass grow for flocks and /herds *
     and plants \to /serve \human\kind;

15    That they may bring forth food from the /earth, *
     and wine to glad\/den \our \hearts,

16    Oil to make a cheerful /coun\tenance, *
     and bread \to /strengthen \the \heart.

17    The trees of the Lord are full of /sap, *
     the cedars of Leban\on /which \he \planted,

18    In which the birds build their /nests, *
     and in whose tops the sto\rk /makes \his \dwelling. 
26    Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to /num\ber, *
     creatures \both /small \and \great.

27    There move the ships,
and there is that Le/vi\athan, *
     which you \have /made \for the \sport of it.

28    All of them look to /you *
     to give them \their /food in \due \season.

29    You give it to them; they /ga\ther it; *
     you open your hand, and they \are /filled \with \good things.

31    You send forth your Spirit, and they are cre/at\ed; *
     and so you renew the fa\ce /of \the \earth.
37    Bless the Lord, O my /soul. *

Celebrant :  Let us go forth renewed and strengthened, remembering that this water is a blessing from God. 
All:  Thanks be to God. 

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