From the St. Nicholas Church website… My message from this morning’s online prayer service for the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God.
On September 8, we celebrate the first great holy day of the Orthodox liturgical calendar (the Church Year begins in September). The Nativity of the Mother of God celebrates the birth of the woman called to be the mother of the Messiah.
The Lord tells the Prophet Jeremiah:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (Jeremiah 1:5)
If this is the case for the prophets, it is so for all God’s People. God did not choose Mary arbitrarily to be the woman who would bring his Son into the world. Mary’s ministry as “Theotokos”– “Birth-giver of God” – was in the Lord’s mind before he formed her in her mother’s womb. Before she was born, Mary was set apart, consecrated, for this great calling.
Indeed, none of us is here by accident. Like Mary, we all have a part to play in God’s great plan for his creation. What is required of us is the trust, courage, and resolve of our Lord’s Mother, to echo her words:
I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.
Today is the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (see Mark 6:14-30). This holy day is a day of strict fasting in the Orthodox Church, as we remember the death of an innocent and holy man at the hands of a weak leader governed by his ego and insatiable appetites.
“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King. At your right hand stands the queen in finest gold from Ophir!”
“You have captured me with desire for you, O Christ, transforming me with your divine love. Consume my sins with the fire of the Spirit, and count me worthy to be filled with the brilliance of your glory.”
Today is the feast day of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Both of these great apostles had times in their life when they turned their backs on Christ – Peter when he denied Jesus three times during our Lord’s Passion, and Paul when he led the persecution of Christians after Pentecost. But through repentance they were reconciled to the Lord and became his great champions.
God knew what these two men were capable of, he had an important part for them in his plan, even when they were at odds with him. God sees into the depths of our souls. He knows our gifts. He sees the contribution that we can make towards building up his kingdom. And to unlock all of that, it takes movement on our part. Trusting in God’s mercy, we need to reach out to him with a repentant heart. God never turns away from those who turn to him.