The Feast of the Annunciation is a very important feast of the Faith. Did you ever stop and think about why that is true? Why is the Annunciation one of the twelve great feasts of the Church? Let us take a moment to think about what happened at the Annunciation, so that we can be better prepared to lead our family in celebrating this great feast.
When we stop and think about it, we can see that each part of this event is notable of its own accord, and together, all are essential for our salvation. It began when the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she had been chosen by God to bear His Son.The fact that this angel appeared shows that the event was significant, for he is sent whenever God has an important message to convey. God’s selection of Mary to become the Theotokos is a critical part of the event, since she was a holy young lady who had consecrated her life to God’s service. Her agreement, “Let it be to me as you say,” is a vitally important piece as well, because it simultaneously demonstrates Mary’s humility before God and her willingness to obey. Also noteworthy is the fact that this event marks the moment in history when a person became the first Christian, for after the Annunciation, the Theotokos truly had Christ living within her. But the most significant aspect of the Annunciation is in what it announces; what came about as a result of both the announcement and the ensuing humble submission to God’s will. And that is this; at the Annunciation, God Himself became human. This mystery is both mind-boggling and crucial. Christ’s taking on flesh and dwelling among us was necessary so that He could die, break the power of death over us, and rise again, raising us to life as well. What humility! What love!
After giving it a little thought, we can see that the Feast of the Annunciation is truly a big deal for so many reasons! Even the other feasts of the church year would not exist without it! In addition, March 25 falls exactly nine months before Christmas, and is therefore is the date of the Annunciation. How wonderfully not-so-coincidental it is that the date of this Feast falls right in the midst of Great Lent each year, for it reminds us of Christ’s humility and the Theotokos’ obedience. Both humility and obedience are things that we are working on in our own lives, especially during Great Lent! The Annunciation reminds us of what God can do when both are exercised perfectly. Let us accordingly prepare our family to celebrate this great feast!
“Today is the beginning of our salvation, and the manifestation of the mystery from the ages;
for the Son of God becometh the Son of the Virgin, and Gabriel proclaimeth grace.
Wherefore, do we shout with him to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O full of grace! The Lord is with thee.” ~ Apolytikion of the Annunciation
Blessed Feast of the Annunciation!
Here are a few ideas of things that we can do with our family to learn together about the Annunciation:
Read Luke 1:26-39 together. Encourage your children to act it out; either in person, or using toy characters. After they act out the story, encourage them to think about it. Help them to think about how the Theotokos must have felt when she was working and suddenly there was an angel there with her. How might she have felt about what He had to say to her? How did she respond, even though she must have been feeling all of those things? What can we learn from her and her response?
“St. Philaret of Moscow boldly stated that ‘the word of the creature brought the Creator down into the world.’ He explains that salvation is not merely an act of God’s will, but also involves the Virgin’s free will. She could have refused, but she accepted God’s will and chose to cooperate without complaint or further questions.” Find this quote and more in a blog post about the Annunciation at: http://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/03/25/100884-the-annunciation-of-our-most-holy-lady-the-theotokos-and-ever-vi
Find a beautiful description of the details in the icon of the Annunciation here: http://www.goarch.org/special/listen_learn_share/annunciation/index_html. Encourage children to look at the icon while you read about the details and discuss how each detail contributes to the story and/or their significance.
Learn together with older children by inviting them to join you and delve into St. Gregory the Wonderworker’s homily on the Annunciation. An English translation of the homily is found here: http://www.antiochian.org/node/22550. Divide your group and the homily into sections and have each group focus on one section for a few minutes. Ask each person to find their favorite part of that section and be prepared to explain why it stands out to them. Then, slowly read over the homily, discussing the parts that “stood out” along the way. Invite all participants to offer insights and/or connections that they have along the way.
Here are a variety of things to do with children to help them celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation: http://myocn.net/teaching-annunciation/
GOARCH offers a family devotional time focusing on the Annunciation here: http://lent.goarch.org/family/annunciation.asp