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The Nativity of the Theotokos

“Salvation is near!”

September 8th

Holy Scripture Accounts

Vespers (September 7th)

  • Genesis 28:10-17
  • Ezekiel 43:27-44:4
  • Proverbs 9:1-11

The Gospel (from feast day Matins)

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

And Mary said:

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name’…And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.”

– Luke 1:39-49, 56

The Epistle (from feast day Liturgy)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:5-11

The Gospel (from feast day Liturgy)

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’

And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’…And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!’ But He said, ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’”


– Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28

Troparion (Tone 4)

Your Nativity, O Virgin,
Has proclaimed joy to the whole universe!
The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God,
Has shone from You, O Theotokos!
By annulling the curse,
He bestowed a blessing.
By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life.

( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 4)

By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin,
Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness;
Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death.
And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you:
The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!

Protoevangelium of James

“And when nine months were fulfilled to Anna, she brought forth, and said to the midwife, ‘What have I brought forth?’ And she told her, ‘A girl’. Then Anna said, ‘the Lord has this day magnified my soul’; and she laid her in bed. And when the days of her purification were accomplished, she nursed the child and called her name Mary. And the child increased in strength every day, so that when she was nine months old, her mother put her upon the ground to try if she could stand; and when she had walked nine steps, she came again to her mother’s lap. Then her mother caught her up and said, ‘As the Lord my God lives, you will not walk again on this earth till I bring you into the temple of the Lord’. Accordingly she made her chamber a holy place, and allowed nothing uncommon or unclean to come near her, but invited certain undefiled daughters of Israel, and they server her.”

– from the Protoevangelium of James

Teaching from the Nativity of Christ Icon

The Theotokos, the Living Temple of God, is now in the world. Her swaddling clothes remind us of her Son’s swaddling clothes, indicating that the way is now prepared for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. The festal hymns refer to Mary as the gate through which God will come to save us.”

Anna whose name means ‘grace of God’, had suffered a long time by being childless. Barrenness was humiliating and believed to be God’s judgment for sin. Here, Anna reclines in wonder at God’s mercy and love, her hand gesturing toward Mary, the fruit of her patience and forbearance.”

Joachim, whose name means ‘victory of God’, also gestures toward Mary, the answer to his prayers. Like Joseph in the Nativity icon, he’s positioned away from the main scene. But unlike Joseph, he is not struggling with doubt; he’s full of joy and wonder.”

The Midwives bear witness to the end of Anna’s childlessness, which foreshadows the coming end of the world’s spiritual barrenness.”

The Red Curtain connecting the two buildings shows that the scene is taking place indoors. A similar curtain can be seen stretching across the tops of other ‘indoor’ icons, such as the Annunciation and the Meeting of Christ.”

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts (page 6), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

featured image source for this post found at https://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/the-nativity-of-the-theotokos-icon/

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