Shortly after the beginning of the Nativity Fast, we Orthodox Christians celebrate the second great feast of the Theotokos – The Entrance of the Holy Theotokos Into the Temple November 21. The first feast of the liturgical year, was the Birth of the Holy Theotokos on September 8th and now it is indeed fitting that our thoughts now at the start of Advent turn to the Mother of God, whose humble and silent expectation should be the model of our own expectation and anticipation of Our Lord’s coming.
The nearer we draw ourselves to the example of Mary through our prayer life and liturgical celebration of her great feastdays, which celebrate her obedience and purity; the same will be formed in us as we await His Coming.
We all know the story of this great feastday, where her parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless constantly praying fervently to God that they be granted a child. They vowed that they would dedicate the child to God. When Mary was born her parents took her at the age of three to the Temple in Jerusalem where she stayed for twelve years. She lived in the Holy of Holies under the care of the Temple priests and the angels. This feast helps us to lift up the holiness of Mary and her spiritual preparation to receive Christ in her womb.
The words of the hymn of this day sum up the entire meaning of this great feastday, “Today the Living Temple of the Great King enters into the Temple to be prepared as a divine dwelling place for Him. O People Rejoice!”
In the Orthodox Church the feasts of the Theotokos always point to the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation through Christ. So as we celebrate this great feast let us honor the Mother of God for her faithful role as a willing instrument of God’s purposes.