Last Sunday, Epiphany Sunday, some of the faithful of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in Eagan gathered at Blackhawk Lake to celebrate Theophany, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Trekking along the park's frozen path in procession with cross and gospel, the ceremony culminated on the lake itself with the blessing of its waters through a large opening in the ice cut out in the shape of a cross.
Reading a gospel story and then a poem first recited in Jerusalem in the seventh century, the community's pastor, Fr. Marc Boulos, blessed and then sprinkled the lake's waters on the small crowd huddled around the cross-shaped opening.
"The baptism of Jesus," Boulos explained, "draws attention to Biblical accounts of God's struggle to safeguard life on earth, despite humanity's repeated miss-steps...the blessing is given as an expression of gratitude for life itself."
Many members of the Orthodox Church, in partnership with the scientific community, have sought to raise awareness about environmental issues. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the church's leading figure worldwide, has been dubbed the "Green Patriarch" for his emphasis on environmental concerns.
Hearing the prayers chanted in the quiet beauty of Eagan's winter landscape, it was hard not to feel respect and appreciation for creation and a renewed sense of responsibility for its care.
St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church; 2020 Silver Bell Road #5; Eagan MN 55122
Photo credits: Paul O'Connor, Renee Zitzloff, Deborah del Castillo
Text credit: Hollie Benton