Today many Greek Orthodox communities celebrate Theopany--the baptism of Christ--with a Blessing of the Water Ceremony in a nearby river, lake, or ocean. This ritual involves immersing the Christian cross and praying for the safety and prosperity of all who enter or who depend upon the waters for life. In some coastal communities, this ritual includes tossing the cross into the ocean waves and having divers go in search of the cross to bring it back to safety.
As a world community, we are realizing daily that we all depend on the life waters of the oceans--not only the diversity of marine life within them and on their shores, but also their systems of currents and weather and oxygen. We are also recognizing the struggles of those who live on coasts, especially those without many resources, as the seas rise, warm, acidify, and are polluted with plastics, oil, chemicals, and noise. We need blessings and diving deep to begin the transformative journey to safety. To do this, we need to express these blessings and follow our prayers with care, changes of mind, habit, and systems, and restorative actions.
Greek Orthodox Christians are not alone in spiritual journeying at this time. Today is for many other Christians the Feast of the Epiphany--the day to commemorate the coming of the 3 kings, or wealthy wisemen to visit the Holy Family in the stable. For others of the Eastern Orthodox faith, January 7th is the time to celebrate the Nativity. NonChristian communities have also recently gone through their sacred honorings and meditative journeys of the soul over the winter season around the solstice.
This is the time from all points of view to face a new year with new resolutions for deeper prayer and more responsible personal and communal actions. All big changes begin with small, intentional steps. The Marine division of A Rocha International, a Christian conservation organization, has developed a tip sheet for churches that can be adapted to other faith communities called the "Top Ten Marine Conservation Activities."
Visit our pages on faith resources and ocean issues for more tools of action. Keep up to date on ocean-faith news on our Interfaith Oceans Facebook page.