Beloved faithful, many times we hear from the Fathers that our Lord became man to restore us from our fallen state back to the image prepared for us. As Orthodox Christians, we are blessed with many examples of real people, sinners just like each and every one of us. I am referring of course to the Saints of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. These God-bearers were transformed by the Holy Spirit to remove themselves from this world. Yes, they lived in this world but the world did not know them, nor did the world possess them.

The closest of these holy ones is our Lady, the Theotokos, and ever-virgin Mary. She is the example, par excellence, to fallen man. It is for this reason the Church Festal Calendar begins and ends with feasts dedicated to her. In the first month of the Church year we celebrate her nativity to the just Joachim and chaste Anna; and in the final month of August, we celebrate her dormition, that is, her falling asleep and translation into heaven.

The divine hymnology of the Church for this Feast teaches us that the Nativity of the Theotokos doth proclaim joy to the whole world. In the person of the Theotokos, the disobedience of our first mother Eve is annulled. In her nativity, the divine plan of the restoration of man is set into motion. The Theotokos is the instrument through which the plan will unfold.

From the Praises in Matins
O strange and most awesome wonder! By command of the Almighty Maker of all things a fruit hath shown forth on this day from a barren womb, that wholly hath brought to end the barrenness which the world had in all good things. Ye mothers join now in choir with the blest mother of the Theotokos and cry aloud: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, O pure Virgin Maid, and He granteth great mercy to the world through thee, O holy one.

Doxastikon of Matins
This is the day of the Lord; rejoice, O ye people. For behold, the Bridal Chamber of the Light, the Book of the Word of life, is come forth from the womb, and the East Gate, newly born, awaiteth the entrance of the Great Priest. She alone bringeth into the world the only Christ, for the salvation of our souls.
Hymns copyright of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, 1984

Concerning the Nativity of the Theotokos, according to the Synaxarion:

The 8th of the month, Nativity of’our SOVEREIGN LADY the most Holy MOTHER of GOD  and ever Virgin MARY. Man was made by God and placed in Paradise that his
sole care might be to bring forth good fruit and to contemplate God his Creator through His works. But Adam was driven out of the garden of delights through the envy of the Devil, who deceived Eve the first woman, and caused Adam to sin.
Later God gave the Law to men by Moses, and made known His will by the Prophets, in preparation for the greater blessing of the Incarnation of His only Son, the Word of God, Who would deliver us from the nets of the Evil one.
In taking our nature upon Himself, Christ wished to share fully our fallen state but without sin, for He alone is without sin, being the Son of God. For this reason, he prepared for’ Himself a spotless habitation, an immaculate ark, the Most Holy Virgin Mary who, although she too was subject to death and the condemnation of
our first parents, yet she was chosen by God before all ages to be the new Eve, the Mother of Christ the Saviour, the well-spring of our redemption and tile archetype of all Christian holiness.
On her father’s side, the Most Holy Virgin Mary was of the royal line of David through his son Nathan who begot Levi, who begot Melchi and Panther, who begot Barpanther, who begot Joachim who was the father of the Mother of God. Anna, the wife of Joachim, was also of David’s lineage for she was the grand-daughter of Mattha, who was himself the grandson of David through Solomon. Mattha married a certain Mary of the tribe of Judah, and they had a son named Jacob, the father of Joseph the carpenter, and three daughters, Mary, Sovia and Anna. Mary gave birth to Salome the midwife, Sovia to Elizabeth the mother of the Forerunner, and Anna to the Mother of God.
God in His wisdom showed the barrenness of human nature before the coming of Christ by leaving Joachim and Anna childless until they were very old. Joachim, who was both rich and devout, prayed without ceasing, and offered gifts to God that He
would deliver his wife and himself from their reproach among men. One feast day, he had gone to the Temple to present his offering, when one of the congregation of the tribe of Reuben turned to him and said, ‘You are not allowed to offer with us because
you have no child.’ These words cut Joachim to the heart and, instead of returning home, he went up into a mountain alone to pray and weep while, at the same hour, Anna too was shedding abundant tears and fervently imploring Heaven. Our God, who is rich in mercy and full of compassion, heard their entreaties and sent the messenger of His benevolence and herald of our salvation, the Archangel Gabriel, to Anna. He announced that she would conceive in her old age and bear a child, who would be the praise of the whole earth.
Full of joy and amazement she exclaimed, ‘As the Lord my God lives, whether the
child I bear be a son or a daughter, I will consecrate it to the Lord my God to serve Him all the days of its life.’ Joachim too was visited by an Angel and told to lead his flocks homeward, and to rejoice with his wife and all their house, because God had
determined to put an end to their reproach.
When nine months had passed, Anna gave birth, and asked the midwife, ‘Whom have I brought into the world’?’ (A daughter’, she replied. ‘My soul has been magnified this day,’ exclaimed Anna and gently laid the child down. And when the days of her purification according to the Law were accomplished, she arose, washed, gave suck to the child and called her Mary, the name obscurely awaited by the Patriarchs, the Prophets and the Righteous, and by which God would reveal the mystery hidden
from all eternity.
The child grew strong and her mother placed her on the ground when she was six months old, to see if she would stand up. Confidently, Mary took seven paces and then turned back and clung to her mother’s breast. Anna lifted her up saying, ‘As the Lord my God lives, you shall tread on the ground no more until I take you into the Temple of the Lord.’ Her mother kept the room where the child was as a holy place, and no unlovely or unclean thing entered there, and she brought daughters of Hebrews of pure lineage to play with the child.
When the child was one year old, Joachim gave a great feast. He invited the priests, the scribes and all the Council and people of Israel. He presented Mary to the priests, and they blessed her saying,’God of our fathers bless this little child and give her an
everlasting name to be named of all generations.’ And all the people responded, ‘Let it be so, let it be so! Amen.’ Joachim also presented her to the high priest, who blessed her saying, ‘God of infinite majesty, look down upon this little child and grant her a
blessing, supreme and beyond compare.’ Then her mother carried Mary into the holy place kept for her and gave her the breast, singing to the Lord this hymn, ‘I will
sing to the Lord my God, for He has visited me and taken away the reproach of my enemies. For the Lord has given me the fruit of His righteousness, at once simple and multiple in its operation. Who will now tell it to the sons of Reuben that Anna is a
mother? Learn, learn you twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna is a mother!’ Then she left the child in the holy place reserved for her, and went out to serve the guests, who rejoiced and praised the God of Israel.
 
THE SYNAXARION, The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church By
HIEROMONK Makarios Of Simonos Petra
 
This account is based on the apocryphal Protoevangelium ofJames. It is not regarded
as inspired scripture because its historical value is uncertain, but its symbolic
resonances are deeply theological and the Church has incorporated these elements
into her services and iconography, to provide the themes in the cycle of feasts of the
Mother of God. cf. Conception of St Anna (9 Dec.), Entry of the Mother of God into the
Temple (21 Nov.), and Annunciation (25 MaL).
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