The Annunciation of the Theotokos - March 25th

Gospel: 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.

FYI (For further information and resources visit family.goarch.org.)

The Annunciation of the Theotokos is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of our Church. In Greek, the word for annunciation comes from the word "gospel," meaning good news. An annunciation is also defined as an announcement. In this instance, the Archangel Gabriel announces that Mary will bear a child - not just any child, but the Son of God. Hence, the angel is also announcing that Mary will become the Theotokos, which may be translated the "God-bearer."Mary was a young girl when the Annunciation took place, in her early teens. Yet her faith, humility, and obedience to God were great. God did not impose this role on Mary - she had a choice. She could have run out of fear or responded in any number of ways to let God know that she did not want this to happen. But this is not what Mary chose to do. Instead, she faithfully said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." We are called to do the same every day - to hear the "good news" of God for our lives and to respond with her courage, faith, and obedience: "let it be according to your Word - Jesus Christ!"

For Consideration

  • What did the Archangel Gabriel come to tell Mary? How does Mary first respond?
  • When Mary says, "Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word," what does she mean?
  • What does this Gospel passage mean to our lives?

To Do Together

  • Write a Song - Write down some of the key words from this Gospel reading and write a song about the Annunciation. If you are not particularly musical, borrow music from a popular song that your family knows, and rework the words. At the end of your songwriting session, take some time to learn to the apolytikion of the Annunciation.You can pray it by prayerfully reciting it together as a family, or if you know how teach everyone to chant the hymn.
  • Servant of God - When Mary chose to bear Christ, she said, "Behold, the maidservant of the Lord!" We are all constantly called to be servants of God, but how often do we think of this? Write a list of all the different things you think are involved in being a servant of God. Look in the Bible using a concordance and find some passages with the word "servant." Discuss as a family how you are serving the Lord and how you can respond like Mary - by giving your entire being to God so that Christ can live in you.
  • Attend Matins for the Feast - It can be difficult to regularly attend Matins (the service before the Divine Liturgy) as a family. Try to be present at this beautiful service together on the Feast of the Annunciation. If you cannot, read the prayers as a family in your home, either the morning of the feast or the evening before. Matins services for each Sunday and major feast days can be found on the Web site of Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery at

http://sgpm.goarch.org/ematins/main.htm.

Final Thought

In the life of every Christian there will be divine annunciations, moments when God lets us know His will and His intention concerning us. But all these annunciations must unite to become the one essential Annunciation: the Annunciation that Jesus can be born in us, can be born through us - not in the same way that He was conceived and brought into the world by the Virgin Mary, for that is a unique miracle that cannot be equaled, but in the sense that the Saviour takes spiritual and, at the same time, very real possession of our being. And then let us remember that every authentic Annunciation is immediately followed by a Visitation: the divine favour that has been granted to us must straightaway release an impulse in us to let it flow out to our brothers, which is expressed through some loving act. - from The Year of Grace of the Lord by A Monk of the Eastern Church

A Closing Prayer

Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace. Wherefore, we also cry out with him, "Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you." - Apolytikion of the Annunciation

For Further Information

  • The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos by Holy Apostles Convent - The most complete text on the life of the Theotokos. This book draws from the liturgical and iconographic traditions of the Church. Her life is viewed and treated within the framework of Sacred Scriptures, Holy Tradition, Patristics and other ancient writings. Published by Holy Apostles Convent; Buena Vista, Colorado.
  • The Story of Mary the Mother of God by Dorrie Papademetriou - Following the story of the Virgin Mary's childhood as it is told in Church tradition and apocryphal texts, this brilliantly illustrated children's book was inspired by the famous mosaics in the Monastery of Chora (the Kariye Djami) in Istanbul, Turkey. Published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; Crestwood, New York.
  • Mary, Our Cause of Rejoicing by Bishop Basil - In this beautiful article, the author boasts of the humanity of Mary and her tremendous role in the salvation of mankind. Available at http://www.antiochian.org/node/18138.

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