Annunciation icon

The Annunciation of the Theotokos

Celebrated March 25th (April 7th)

Epistle: Hebrews 2:11-18
Gospel: Luke 1:24-38

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos! Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you have borne the Savior of our souls!

The Incarnation, it has been rightly said, "was not only the work of the Father, of His Power and His Spirit, it was also the work of the will and the faith of the Virgin." On the Feast of the Annunciation, therefore, the Orthodox Church commemorates not only the divine initiative, but also the human response, whereby Mary freely accepted the vocation set before her. God always respects human liberty, so when he elected to become man, He desired to do so with the willing agreement of the woman He chose to be His mother. Mary's answer to the angel was not a foregone conclusion: she could have refused! She was not a passive instrument, but an active participant, with a free and positive part to play in God's scheme of salvation.

In the services of the Church, Mary's doubts are set forth with the utmost directness; we see her incredulity and her embarrassment. This is done to make it clear that she acted in full freedom. This feast is celebrated nine months before Christ's birth, December 25th (January 7th).

About the Icon

In the center of the icon, a scroll on a stand reminds us of the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah that a virgin shall bear a child. The Angel Gabriel (on the left) points to Mary, with his hand centered over the scroll, as fulfillment of that prophecy. Mary, on the right, holds a spool of woolen yarn: as the sheep give their wool to clothe us, so she will give her flesh and blood to clothe the Son of God in a garment of humanity.

Adapted from The Icon Book, by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie & Matusiak.

Click [HERE] for the icon of the Annunciation to color (GIF format, 19 KB).

Troparion

Today is the beginning of our salvation, the revelation of the Eternal Mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin as Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together with him, let us cry to the Theotokos: Rejoice! Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!

Kontakion

O Victorious Leader of Triumphant Hosts! We, your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, O Theotokos! As you possess invincible might, set us from every calamity so that we may sing: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

Some Things To Do / Discussion

Attend Vespers and Liturgy for the feast as a family.
What is different in the Church at this feast? What colors are used?
Look up the word "announce", then read the gospel for this feast together (Luke 1:26-38).
Why is this feast called "the Annunciation"? What is being announced? Who is the announcement from?
Is Mary free to make the choice to accept of not accept what God wishes for her? Talk about the choices every one of us makes during the day, easy and hard.
What choices do we have to make in our life regarding our faith?
What are some daily choices God might want us to make?

Adapted from a compilation by Fr. Stephen Belonick, Binghampton, NY.

© 1996 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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