Nativity of the Mother of God

September 8

Icon courtesy of Dmitry Shkolnik

“Your Nativity, O Mother of God, has made joy known to the entire world, for from you, dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. He abolished the curse and gave the blessing, and by making death of no effect, He bestowed on us eternal life.”

On this day, our Church acknowledges the birth of the Theotokos (Mother of God). As the Church’s Liturgical Year begins on September 1st, it is only fitting that the Nativity of Mary, the Mother of God, be celebrated as the first major feast of the year. The birth of the Theotokos is the beginning of the act of incarnation and our salvation through Jesus Christ.

The record of the birth of Mary is not found in the Bible. According to the apocryphal writings which are not a part of the New Testament Scriptures, Joachim and Anna were a pious Jewish couple who were old and childless. Their inability to have children caused them intense grief and considerable embarrassment.  In Jewish tradition, barrenness was viewed as a curse because it meant the woman was unable to produce a possible Messiah for the people. Joachim and Anna prayed earnestly to the Lord for a child, vowing to dedicate their child to the service of the Lord if He found favor with their request. In answer to their unwavering fidelity to God, the elderly couple was blessed with the child who was destined to become the Mother of the Messiah, Christ.

The Nativity of the Theotokos marks the change of the times when the great and comforting promises of God for the salvation of the human race from slavery to the devil are about to be fulfilled. This event has brought to earth the grace of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Truth, piety, virtue and everlasting life. The Theotokos is revealed to all of us by grace as a merciful Intercessor and Mother.

Mary’s birth heralded the coming of the promised Messiah, who was to destroy the power of Satan, reopen for us the gates of heaven, and assure divine blessing to the entire human race. This is the reason of our rejoicing.  At the same time, the liturgical hymns exalt devotion and righteousness of Joachim and Anna. By their devotion and persevering prayers, they proved their complete confidence in God.

This is the practical lesson of the feast of Mary’s nativity. Our unwavering confidence in God, supported by persevering prayer, will open for us the door of divine mercy and secure for us a constant flow of God’s blessings.

“Let heaven rejoice and earth exalt, for the firmament of our God comes into the world; according to the promise, the Divine Bride is now born. The barren one now nurses Mary, her child; and Joachim rejoices in this birth and says: “Behold, the rod is now born to me, from which Christ shall blossom forth from the root of David. Indeed, this is a wondrous marvel!”


Excerpts taken and adapted with appreciation from:
Orthodox Church in America at The-nativity-of-our-most-holy-lady-the-mother-of-god