Return to Home Page


Life without water is impossible. Just as some two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water, so some two-thirds of human body weight is water. And although human-beings can survive for several weeks without food, they cannot survive for more than a few days without water.

All great civilisations started where there is water. Among them are the Mesopotamian ('the land between the rivers') with the Tigris and the Euphrates, the civilisation of the Nile or that of the Ganges. And every great city and culture is connected with an ocean or a sea or a river, for example European rivers like the Tiber, the Tagus, the Rhine, the Danube, the Seine and the Thames.

In the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis the word 'waters' appears no fewer than seven times: 'And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters'. Water is a decisive factor in the Scriptures, whether it is in the story of the Flood or that of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, or that of the Sea of Galilee or the River Jordan. Christ Himself promised: 'He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water' (John 7, 38). And among the very last verses of the New Testament is the promise: 'And he showed me a pure river of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb'.

It is no surprise then that as the Giver of Life, Christ first of all set about asking for the baptism of His human nature through water. The presence of His sinless human nature together with His divine nature in water hallowed the water and promised to hallow all Christians through it. Therefore, entrance into the Church is through baptism. This is not a mere outward ritual washing in water, as in the Old Testament. It is an inward cleansing through the Holy Spirit, Who is sent by Christ from His Father. The outward washing in water is merely the outward sign of inward cleansing.

Since the Holy Trinity was present at Christ's Baptism, Christian baptism is therefore carried out in the name of the Holy Trinity. The Son was present and the Holy Spirit too was present, proceeding and descending from the Father (Matt. 3,16; Mark 1,10), Whose voice spoke of His beloved Son. This is what we Orthodox Christians now celebrate in January at the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, Theophany.

In the Orthodox Christian understanding, all matter can be cleansed by the presence of the Holy Spirit, by hallowing. Water is but the prime example of matter, for water is the most fundamental matter, without which, as we have said, Life is not possible. God created water and all the material world and 'God saw that it was good'. His creation was out of nothing. This can be contrasted with man's activities.

Man is actually incapable of creating or forming anything. He is however capable of two other activities. He can either recreate, that is, transform, converting one material form into another. Or else he can uncreate, that is deform, for he is incapable of construction, but he is capable of destruction. The prime example of this is the Atomic Bomb, where instead of forming, man deforms, instead of creating matter out of nothing, man uncreates matter into nothing, by converting matter into the energy of the nuclear explosion. This is why all materialist philosophies are so absurd, for materialism is but the worship of the destructible.

Now at the very moment of this Feast of Theophany, the Feast of the Baptism and the Hallowing of Water, a vehicle is roaming the surface of the Planet Mars. It was sent there by the United States administration, landing there from Earth a few weeks ago and at some considerable expense. One of its main tasks is to find water, or at least frozen water crystals, which would prove that either there may once have been life on Mars or that there may one day be life on Mars. Furthermore, President Bush has decided to set up a programme to put men on Mars, the planet named after the pagan god of war, and at a cost of one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) dollars.

We would like to make an offer to Mr Bush. Instead of spending one trillion dollars on sending men to the freezing and barren deserts of Mars in search of water crystals, in return for a donation, to be used in helping the poor of African and other countries, made destitute by wars, misrule and general human folly, we will offer him something which he will never find on Mars or any other unearthly planet: holy water. Through this, we will show him that there is no need to go to Mars to seek the miracle of the transfiguration of the material world. Miracles are already here.

Fr Andrew

Feast of the Holy Forerunner John the Baptist, 2004

to top of page