Annunciation: Calm Before the Storm

Annunciation is such an important feast day to the Orthodox that even if it coincides with Great and Holy Friday or Pascha it is still celebrated.  It is the remembrance of the first time that the salvation of the race of men, in the coming of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, was proclaimed to the world. We will celebrate Nativity nine months from today. What does it mean to me today? It is the calm before the storm. We take a little extra nourishment (fish, wine and oil are permitted) and we take a deep breath. It is interesting that the hailing of the coming salvation always falls in Great Lent as we are meditating on what that salvation consists of and costs.

Today marks the crowning of our salvation and the revelation of the mystery before all ages. For the Son of God becomes the son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaims the grace. Wherefore, we also cry out with him, “Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Apolytikion for Annunciation

To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: “Hail, unwedded bride!” Kontakion for Annunciation

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” Luke 1:26-55

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5 Comments

Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Sundays, Feast Days, Other Days

5 responses to “Annunciation: Calm Before the Storm

  1. One of the things that impresses me about the Orthodox cycle of feasts is the presence of the Incarnation. We must always remember that our salvation begins with Christ’s Incarnation. Hail Mary, full of Grace, blessed are thee among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

  2. Fr. James Coles

    Thanks for the comment. I just love that we step out of Lent for a few minutes tonight to remember the incarnation. It feels to me like the Lord is going to break through and call a 90 minute time-out. I am ready!

  3. I noted a few weeks ago during Matins that we sang “Thy Resurrection o Christ Savior….” I love all of the places where He points us to where we are going during this most fantastically difficult time.

  4. “It is interesting that the hailing of the coming salvation always falls in Great Lent”

    Actually, this statement is not correct. I will celebrate Annunciation on the 4th day of Pascha, Bright Wednesday.

    For those who follow the Julian Calendar, Pascha and Annunciation may coincide (this beautiful and once every 77 years feast (I think) is called “KyrioPascha”) and Annunciation may occur even after Pascha. Niehter of these things will ever happen for those who follow the Gregorian calendar, called by some the “New” calendar.

    I agree with what you say about the”calm before the storm”, but for me, every year, this is Lazarus Saturday, where we celebrate the resurrection before the resurrection , as it were. Then follows Palm Sunday, with its joy (and fish), followed on the same day by the entry into Holy Week.

    None of these things happen for those who follow the Gregorian Calendar.

  5. Fr Seraphim,

    It seems that when Pascha is quite late, the Feast of Annunciation will occur before Holy Week even on the Old Calendar. The Annunciation preceded Holy Week in the 2008 and 2009. Indeed, this year represents one of the earliest possible Eastern Paschas as Pascha cannot occur before 21 March on the Old Calendar (or 3 April on the civil calendar). Until an ecumenical council to clarify whether the instruction is “the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox” or “the first Sunday after the first full moon after the historic 21 March” we will have the calendar divide, but the presence of Kyriopascha is related to how we date the Spring Equinox.

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