Today is the Feast Day of the Annunciation  -  the announcement made by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would have a child.

The Gospel Reading is Luke 1:25-38.

"And having come, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.'

Mary was blessed.  She was highly favored, Full of Grace!

She is, in fact, the most blessed woman who has ever lived because of her absolute and complete  willingness to receive God's grace .  As spoken by her son, the Theotokos, Mary, was blessed to "hear the word of God and keep it" (see Luke 11:28).  She was the first to say yes to Jesus!  Her response was of highest obedience to God.  She sets an example for us all.

Where the first woman, Eve, was disobedient to God, Mary is obedient.

This is an obedience to God we can all learn from.  And teach to others.  Especially our children.

Will I teach my 6 year old about Mary's virginity?  No, not this year.  Will we have lots of lessons to  teach him about all the details of Mary's life and about the Betrothal between her and Joseph and teach him how Jesus was her only son and that Joseph's other children came from a previous marriage?  All of this in due time, but for a 6 year old?  My focus is on the most important aspect.  Mary said Yes!  She said Yes to God and that is what we all must do.  She is the greatest woman who ever lived because she accepted God's will with willingness.

Accepting God's will with willingness.

Isn't accepting God's will  what we all struggle with?

Isn't obedience what we all struggle with?

Isn't obedience what our children struggle with?

This feast day is a wonderful opportunity to teach our children the wonderful ways of obedience-  how obedience to God can change the world.

For more about why I think Mary is the Greatest Woman Who Ever lived, see my post from November, 2013.

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Theophany, to be celebrated later this week on January 6th, is the Feast Day celebrating the manifestation of God because at the time of baptism (Christ baptized by John in the Jordan) God revealed Himself to people as the Holy Trinity( found in Matt. 3:16):  wpid-IMG_20140102_090954_489.jpg

  1. God the father spoke from Heaven
  2. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God was baptised
  3. The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove

Troparian of the Feast

When Thou was baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son.  And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word.  O Christ our God Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!

Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church.  When we pray we make the sign of the cross.  The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD.  Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith.  The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

It is a terrible thing to believe in many gods.  Orthodox Christians do not believe in more than one God.  God is One but is a Trinity in Three Persons - God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is not three Gods.  It is one God in three Persons, the Trinity in one essence and indivisible.  All three Persons have the same divine rank; there is not one higher than the other.  All three are the same true God.

The doctrine of the Trinity is anchored in Scripture.  Our Lord Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matt. 28:19) He did not use the plural word 'names'.  It is used in a singular form.  St. Paul spoke  of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" in 2 Corinthians 13:14.  St. Peter also mentions the Trinity in his first letter, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ ....elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2).

There are also indications of the Trinity in the Old Testament.  In Genesis 1:26 God says, "Let us make man in our image and likeness". Yet the next verse states, "And God made man in His image and likeness" (Genesis 1:27).  Obviously the plural us and our suggests more than one but is followed up by the singular his.  This is evidence of the Trinity. Further evidence that knowledge of the Trinity occurs in the Old Testament is that the Hebrew word for God, "Elohim", is plural yet it takes a verb in the singular, and if an adjective goes with it, that too is in the singular.

The Trinity is a difficult concept.  Analogies have been made (i.e. There are many sacred books gathered together into one book called the Bible or water has three forms: solid, liquid and gas but remains being water) but none have mastered the conceptualization. God is just so great that He will remain beyond our comprehension while in this earthly life.  But it's not that we can't understand God at all.  The purpose of the Trinity is to help reveal God to us. The word 'God' is described more fully through the Trinity because one cannot come close to understanding the fullness of God without knowing '"the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14).

My hope is the Father,

My refuge is the Son,

My Protection is the Holy Spirit,

Holy Trinity,

Glory to Thee.

~An Orthodox Prayer

One further note before concluding...  This feast is also sometimes referred to as Epiphany by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus.  The term epiphany does appear in some of the service texts for this feast...  ~ excerpt from OrthodoxWiki