Wishing everyone a blessed celebration
of the Feast of the Annunciation to the Theotokos!
The Annunciation, one of the Twelve Major Feasts of the Orthodox Church calendar, commemorates the events described in Luke 1:24-38.
Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible. Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
With the Annunciation to the Theotokos, we have the beginning of our salvation – the incarnation of God in the flesh. Orthodox believes in the utterly inexplicable notion that the eternal God became a little child, and more amazingly from the very conception of Christ in whatever form that embryo or even zygote took, God was fully present and thus the reconciliation of God with humanity was begun in the Virgin Mary who truly is Theotokos. We can say quite literally our salvation is in the Theotokos!
“Gabriel was invited to Nazareth to bring the Virgin the glad annunciation from the Father. The angel found Mary at home and greeted her with these words: ‘Rejoice, you that are full of grace; the Lord is with you. Rejoice, you are the first and only one to conceive a babe free from sin. Rejoice, you that bring into the world the beginning of life. Rejoice, O Virgin Mother. Rejoice, O Mother unmarried yet not without child. Rejoice, O Mother unwed but not unfruitful. Rejoice, you that await the birth yet shall not travail. Rejoice, you that bear the deliverer from your father Adam. Rejoice, you that without wearying sustain the sustainer of creation. Rejoice, you that without pain are intermediary between God and humanity. Rejoice, you that give birth to a God who is not only God, to a man who is not just a man. Rejoice, you that are full of grace: the Lord is with you.’ The Virgin did not give importance to the exhortation to rejoice but reflected on this greeting and said: ‘What can this salutation be? And who is this who entered our home without an invitation?’ The angel explained: ‘Fear not, Mary. You have acquired the grace that the first woman lost. She, alone, yielded to the tempter’s guile. Now you, alone, are bearing the conqueror of temptation. You will bring forth a son and shall call his name Jesus.’ ” (Antipater of Bostra in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain, pgs. 303-394)