Greetings during the Feast of Theophany, when Orthodox Christians commemorate the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan. The significance of this great feast, which is every bit as important as the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), is expressed in the troparion hymn for the day:
When You, O Lord
were baptized in the Jordan,
The worship of the Trinity
was made manifest,
For the voice of the Father
bore witness to You,
And called You His beloved Son.
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
O Christ, our God,
You have revealed Yourself
And have enlightened the world,
Glory to You!
The worship of Christ as Lord, "Light of Light" and Enlightener of the World is also strongly emphasized in the kontakion for the feast:
Today You have shown forth
to the world, O Lord,
and the light of Your countenance
has been signed on us.
Knowing You, we sing Your praises.
You have come and revealed Yourself,
O unapproachable Light.
This Feast has great import for us vis a vis Islam, as we can glean from the below sermon by Schema-hieromonk Ambrose Young. In his homily, Fr Ambrose connects the many theophanies from the Old Testamental period with the Great Theophany of the Coming of Christ. He also contrasts the false pagan theophanies of ancient times with the true divine theophanies of the Old and New Testaments.
We may rightly include Islam with the false pagan religions and their artificial theophanies. For unlike the many true divine theophanies of the Old and New Testaments, which were witnessed by others and set down by the witnesses for the edification of the faithful, there were no witnesses to Muhammad's so-called "revelations." Muhammad brought forth his revelations — his theophanies — without corroboration, and when challenged as to why he should be believed to be the messenger of God, he replied that his revelations point to him, that they themselves — i.e. the Qur'an — are the greatest miracle. Muhammad provides the epitome of a closed, self-defining system: "Believe in me, for I bring you these revelations, which point to me as the bringer of these revelations." Is this not just like the pagans of Delphi, Egypt or Rome (described below) who displayed their false idols to the people for adoration? Islam is no less idolatrous for its extreme iconoclasm.
St John of Damascus was quite right in ridiculing the credulity and gullibility of those who would accept "revelations" from Muhammad with no witnesses or corroboration. Christ Himself, while holding up John the Baptist as His witness (JN 5:31-35), challenged the people to examine His works, for they are proof of His Divine Sonship:
"If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (JN 10:37-38; see also JN 5:36).
(Much has been written elsewhere of Muhammad's works — war, slaughter, rape, pedophilia, enslavement of captives, concubinage, and much more — so we won't belabor the point here.)
Of the highest importance for us as we celebrate this important feast, the New Testament Theophanies of God (The Baptism of Christ, and the Transfiguration of Christ) reveal God as Love, as a loving communion of Three Divine Persons united in One Essence, co-eternal, co-working, and co-redeeming mankind and the whole of the cosmos. And this is made known to us through the entry into human history of the Co-Eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who proved Himself to be He Who Is through His words, actions, miracles, and ultimately through His voluntary suffering, crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension/glorification. We affirm that Christ reveals the true character of God through His entire self-emptying (Greek: kenotic) mission.
The Great Feast of Theophany thus reveals not just Christ, but Who God Is: God as Love, God as intimately connected with mankind, God as Trinity. And as Christ triumphs over death through His Resurrection, so Truth triumphs over falsehood, Light over darkness, Love over hate, the Church over the gates of hell.
Islam, in its doctrinal hatred towards Christianity reveals its brittle weakness and gnawing self-doubt. The very existence of merely one faithful Christian is the full repudiation of Islam as a false religion. But the more forcefully Islam denies the Trinity, denies that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, denies the resurrection, and condemns Christians, the more it shows what it is afraid of: Truth, Light, Life, Faith. Islam's most devout adherents — based on the Qur'an, and the sayings and example of Muhammad — rage against and mercilessly persecute our Christian brothers and sisters all around the globe, and in so doing reveal the actual source and purpose of Islam, as well as its ultimate destiny, which is abject and eternal failure and condemnation.
This is why we are must pray for our suffering Christian brethren throughout the Islamic world, that they would stand firm in the Faith, and bear witness as righteous confessors of Christ Jesus. But we are also compelled to reach out with the Love of Christ to our Muslim neighbors, and offer to them the humble truth of loving communion with the God Who is Love, Who takes away the sins of the world, and frees men from hatred, division, blindness and condemnation. And may many be saved!