On the 15th of August, (transferred this year to the nearest Sunday), the Church of England, as part of the worldwide Christian community, celebrates Mary as the Mother of God and recalls her ‘falling asleep’ (her ‘dormition’, i.e., death) at Jerusalem.
Mary’s vocation was revealed at the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel told her that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah (the Christ, i.e. “the anointed one”). Because Jesus is God’s eternal Son made flesh, one in substance with the Father and conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is called ‘Emmanuel’: ‘God with us.’ Therefore the Church calls Mary ‘the Mother of God’ (i.e., God-incarnate).
Mary continues to be for us the icon of discipleship and the most powerful example of obedience to God’s call. With all the saints, she assists the Church on earth with her prayers in heaven. This Orthodox icon shows her as the temple of the Holy Spirit, revealing Our Lord Jesus Christ within her. To bring forth Christ to the world is the vocation of every Christian.
God most high,
whose handmaid bore the Word made flesh:
we thank you that in this sacrament of our redemption
you visit us with your Holy Spirit
and overshadow us by your power;
strengthen us to walk with Mary the joyful path of obedience
and so to bring forth the fruits of holiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Icon of Mary’s Dormition