It is a great blessing and honor that we recently celebrated our first cycle of worship services at the newly formed Orthodox mission in Greenville, NC. Our inaugural liturgy was celebrated on our parish feast day: The Nativity of the Holy Theotokos.
Normally we celebrate a saint on his or her date of death, as this is the birthday into Heaven; but with Christ, the Theotokos, and John the Baptist, we celebrate their Conception, Birth, and Death. With Christ, it is because each event in his life had significance directly for our salvation, and with the Theotokos and St. John the Baptist, it is because the events in their lives point us to and serve as parallels to the events in Christ’s live.
The Virgin Mary was born to Saints Joachim and Anna who were barren; and this is a precursor to the Virgin Mary giving birth seedlessly.
From the first reading at Vespers, we see that Jacob’s ladder is a type of the Virgin Mary; she is the gate from earth to Heaven, by which God comes down to us.
We see in another reading at Vespers that the Virgin Mary is the gate through which no man has passed except the prince; who after having passed, left the gate unopened. This refers to Christ and the Virgin birth.
We read in the Scripture readings on Sunday about the snakes and Moses; the Israelites worshipped idols and as a result, God allowed poisonous snakes to bite them; they were saved when Moses put the image of a snake on a pole and they looked at it. Moses putting a snake on a pole is a type of Christ hanging on the Cross; when the Israelites put their mind on things earthly, they sunk like Peter in the water, but when their eyes were on the snake, they were “lifted up” to good health and salvation; so when we look up at the Cross, we are lifted up. This may lead to us sharing in Christ’s suffering, but now suffering and death have meaning for us and can be overcome.
I look forward to seeing at future services and sharing the Lord’s word with you.
Yours In Christ,