WEDNESDAY THE FIFTEENTH OF AUGUST, 2018
* Dormition of the Theotokos *
Almighty and everlasting God, who stooped to raise fallen humanity through the child-bearing of blessed Mary: grant that we, who have seen your glory revealed in our human nature and your love made perfect in our weakness, may daily be renewed in your image and conformed to the pattern of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Her Virgin eyes saw God incarnate born, when she to Bethlehem came that happy morn:
how high her raptures then began to swell, none but her own omniscient son can tell.
As Eve, when she her fontal sin reviewed, wept for herself and all she should include,
blest Mary, with man's saviour in embrace, joyed for herself and for all human race.
All saints are by her son's dear influence blessed; she kept the very fountain at her breast:
the son adored and nursed by the sweet maid a thousandfold of love for love repaid.
Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced, near to his throne her son his mother placed;
and here below, now she is of heaven possessed, all generations are to call her blessed.
( Thomas Ken, 1637-1711 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Dormition of the Theotokos
Today Saint Laika’s remembers the Dormition of the Theotokos. Mary, mother of Jesus, has been a cause of disunity for Western Christians. Some, it is said, make too much of her, believing and teaching as doctrine things never said of her in holy scripture. Others, it is said, make too little of her, ignoring her role in Jesus’ own life and ministry and ignoring her role in the Church’s life and worship.
We express this feast in the language of the Orthodox Christians, who celebrate her dormition, her falling asleep. In the Bible “falling asleep” is often used as a metaphor for death. But it is a hopeful metaphor, for a “falling asleep” presumes a “waking up.” And for followers of Jesus, that means eternal life.
Also the Orthodox, on this feast day, call attention to her greatest work, that of being the God-bearer, the one who brings God into the world. This was proclaimed in the ancient church at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.
Martin Luther famously wrote this about the title Theotokos: “Men have crowned all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God.“
As a servant of the Word, Mary gladly obeyed God and did what was asked of her. In this she becomes an example for us to follow. So that, having served God faithfully in our lives, we may glorify him in our deaths and share eternal life with Mary and all the saints. We are called to be “God-bearers” too, bringing God into the world by our faith.
The first centuries of the Church tell us nothing about Mary. We last see her in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. We know not how long she lived, what she did or how she ended her days. But, in celebrating her dormition, let us make her hope, our hope. And let us, with all God’s saints, look forward with expectation to the eternal life that awaits us.
Scripture. In "The Second Letter to Timothy," chapter four, verses six to eight, we read:
As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
As we pray to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we say with Mary: Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
Your prophet of old foretold a day when a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be called God-with-us. Help us to look forward to your deliverance and to seek the fullness of your kingdom. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
Your angel declared to Mary that she was to be the mother of the Saviour. Help every Christian person to be open to your word and obedient to your will. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
Mary rejoiced with Elizabeth and sang your praise, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord." Help us to live joyful lives that sing your praise. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
Mary bore a son of David’s line, a king whose reign would never end. Bless all the nations of the world with Christ’s gift of peace. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
The child Jesus grew in wisdom and stature in the home of Mary and Joseph. Strengthen our homes and families and keep under your protection all those whom we love. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
At the foot of the cross of Christ stood his mother, and from the cross she received his lifeless body in her arms. Give comfort and healing to all who suffer and all who watch the suffering of those they love. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
The apostle John saw a vision of a woman in heaven, robed with the sun. Bring us with all those who have died in the faith of Christ to share the joy of heaven with Mary and all the saints. Lord, have mercy on those who fear you. Holy is your name.
Almighty and everlasting God, your handmaid Mary magnified your name and rejoiced in your saving love: trusting in that same love, we ask all these our prayers through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
... for the people of the Republic of Congo, India and Liechtenstein who celebrate their national day today.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From a sermon on the Dormition of the Theotokos by John of Kronstadt:
We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean?
This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbour.
Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.
And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ.
O God, you have taken to yourself blessed Mary, mother of your incarnate son. Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, our saviour and lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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