Friday, March 25, 2016

The Annunciation of the Theotokos

Today is undoubtedly one of the most important days in the Orthodox calendar. The Annunciation shows the relationship between God and man and also God’s love for mankind. Without the Annunciation and the coming of the Son, we, the created world, would not have been saved. This festivity has four meanings: a theological, an anthropological, a soteriological and finally a mariological one.

‘The Church’s hymnography celebrates with wonderment the woman who was called upon to “contain Him that nothing can contain.” It also calls the community of faithful to turn toward the God of love who ineffably lowered himself to become man so that mankind could realize the vocation for which it was created: to participate in the divine life. All creatures are called upon to join in the jubilation of the announcement that God’s project is about to be realized:’[1]
‘Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice: for the Son who is coeternal with the Father, sharing His throne and like Him without beginning, in His compassion and merciful love for mankind has submitted Himself to emptying, according to the good pleasure and the counsel of the Father; and He has gone to dwell in a virgin’s womb that was sanctified beforehand by the Spirit. O marvel! God is come among men; He who cannot be contained is contained in a womb; the Timeless [One] enters time; and strange wonder! His conception is without seed, His emptying is past telling: so great is this mystery! For God empties Himself, takes flesh, and is fashioned as a creature, when the angel tells the pure Virgin of her conception: “Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord who has great mercy is with thee.”’[2] (Stichera from Lauds of the Annunciation).

[1] Behr-Sigel, Elisabeth, The Ministry of Women in the Church, (California, Oakwood Publications, 1991), p. 192.
[2] Mother Mary, Kallistos Ware, The Festal Menaion, (London, Faber and Faber, 1959), p. 443. 

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