Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos
Readings – Vigil
Reading from Genesis (28:10-17)
Jacob went forth from the well of the oath, and departed unto Harran, and came to a certain place and slept there, for the sun had gone down; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it at his head, and lay down to sleep in that place, and dreamed, and beheld a ladder fixed on the earth, whose top reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascended and descended on it. And the Lord stood upon it, and said: ‘I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac. Fear not; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be as the sand of the earth; and it shall spread abroad to the sea, and to the south, and to the north, and to the east; and in thee and in thy seed shall all tribes of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee to preserve thee continually in all the way wherein thou shalt go; and [I will bring thee back to this land; for] I will not desert thee, until I have done all that I have said to thee.’ And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and said: ‘The Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.’ And he was afraid, and said: ‘How fearful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’
Reading from the Prophecy of Ezekiel (43:27-44:4a)
Thus saith the Lord: ‘It shall come to pass from the eighth day and onward, that the priests shall offer your wholeburnt-offerings on the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you,’ saith the Lord. Then He brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that looketh eastward; and it was shut. And the Lord said to me: ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it; for the Lord God of Israel shall enter by it, and it shall be shut. For the Prince, He shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord; He shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go forth by the way of the same.’ And He brought me in by the way of the gate that looketh northward, in front of the house: and I looked, and, behold! the house was full of the glory of the Lord.
Reading from Proverbs (9:1-11)
Wisdom hath built a house for herself and set up seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine in a bowl and prepared her table. She hath sent forth her servants, calling with a loud proclamation to the feast, saying: ‘Whoso is foolish, let him turn aside to me.’ And to those who want understanding, she saith: ‘Come, eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you. Leave folly, that ye may reign forever; and seek wisdom, and improve understanding by knowledge.’ He who reproveth evil men shall get dishonour to himself; and he who rebuketh an ungodly man shall disgrace himself. Rebuke not evil men, lest they should hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give an opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser: instruct a just man, and he will receive more instruction. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of the law is the character of a sound mind. For in this way thou shalt live long, and years of thy life shall be added to thee.
Holy Gospel according to Luke (1:39-49, 56)
In those days Mary arose and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ And Mary said, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name.’ […] And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Readings – Liturgy
The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Philippians (2:5-11)
Brethren: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion of a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death – even the death of the Cross. Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (10:38-42; 11:27-28)
At that time, Jesus entered into a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. But Martha was encumbered with much serving, and came to Him and said, ‘Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.’ And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ […] And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the breasts which Thou hast sucked.’ But He said, ‘Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.’
Troparion of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone 4)
Thy nativity, O Theotokos Virgin, hath proclaimed joy to all the world; for from thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the curse, and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life eternal.
Kontakion of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone 4)
Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death, by thy holy nativity, O immaculate one, which thy people, redeemed from the guilt of offenses, celebrate, by crying to thee: The barren woman giveth birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.
Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos
The Holy Virgin Mary was born of aged parents, Joachim and Anna. Her father was of the lineage of David, and her mother of the lineage of Aaron. Thus, she was of royal birth by her father, and of priestly birth by her mother. In this, she foreshadowed Him Who would be born of her as King and High Priest. Her parents were quite old and had no children. Because of this they were ashamed before men and humble before God. In their humility they prayed to God with tears, to bring them joy in their old age by giving them a child, as He had once given joy to the aged Abraham and his wife Sarah by giving them Isaac. The Almighty and All-seeing God rewarded them with a joy that surpassed all their expectations and all their most beautiful dreams. For He gave them not just a daughter, but the Mother of God. He illumined them not only with temporal joy, but with eternal joy as well. God gave them just one daughter, and she would later give them just one grandson–but what a daughter and what a Grandson! Mary, Full of grace, Blessed among women, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Altar of the Living God, the Table of the Heavenly Bread, the Ark of God’s Holiness, the Tree of the Sweetest Fruit, the Glory of the race of man, the Praise of womanhood, the Fount of virginity and purity–this was the daughter given by God to Joachim and Anna. She was born in Nazareth, and at the age of three, was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem. In her young womanhood she returned again to Nazareth, and shortly thereafter heard the Annunciation of the Holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of the Son of God, the Savior of the world, from her most-pure virgin body.