January 6, 2020
TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. – The Feast of Epiphany is the most important day for this quaint city of the Tampa Bay area, known around the country and the world, as “Epiphany City.”
His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, presided for the first time since he became Archbishop last year, at the annual 114th celebration of Theophany (Epiphany), the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, the Great Blessing Service of the Waters and the Dive for the Cross in Spring Bayou, while many thousands of pilgrims and visitors attended the festivities.
For the first time in the history of Tarpon Springs, the sitting Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is visiting the U.S. to meet with President Trump, was in attendance.
Archbishop Elpidophoros speaking to the faithful at the ceremony of the dive for the Cross delivered the following message:
Brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors,
I thank you for joining us on this holy day of Epiphany.
In the Scriptures we read, that the Lord spoke to John in these simple words: “Behold, I make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).
All that we do here today points to that promise—the promise of a new heaven and new earth, in the coming Kingdom of God.
Many years ago, in the time of Noah, a great flood washed away a world full of sin. When the waters went down, Noah released a dove, just as one of our young women will do today. The dove returned with a twig of the olive tree in its mouth. This showed that God had once more brought forth life on the earth. For God has the power to overcome death, and to make all things new.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt to freedom, he lifted up his staff and parted the waters of the sea. Where there had been no road before, a new way appeared, leading to a better and happier life. Today we lift up the staff of victory, the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cast it into the waters as a sign that in Baptism, Christ leads us to freedom from sin. He grants us a better and happier life. He makes us a new and holy people.
This service that we perform here today is not just a colorful ritual. It is our declaration that Jesus Christ is the perfect Son of God. He brings life out of death; He brings freedom and holiness. His power goes forth to every place on earth. It reaches us here in Tarpon Springs today.
We bless the waters of the Bayou to show our Faith, that the Lord is with us, here and now, and that He is at work among us, to make all things new.
Glory be to the Holy Trinity!
Chronia Polla to all!