Friday, November 21, 2014

Giving our children to God

Today in the Orthodox Church marks when Mary, the Mother of Jesus, (or who the Orthodox call Theotokos) was brought to the temple to live. Just like Samuel had been brought to the temple by his mother Hanna. Actually the story of Hanna and Samuel and Anna (Mary's mother) and Mary are very similar. Joachim (Mary's father) and Anna where old in age and mourned over their bareness. God heard their cry and blessed them with a baby. Anna, upon hearing that she was with child, immediately gave her child over to The Lord, saying whether this baby is a boy or a girl I will bring it as an offering to the house of The Lord and it will serve Him all the days of its life. And this child that they where blessed with was the mother who would contain the Uncontainable in her womb.

 Virgin Mary was taken —presented—by her parents Joachim and Anna into the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as a young girl, where she lived and served as a Temple virgin until her betrothal to St. Joseph. One of the earliest sources of this tradition is the non-canonical Protoevangelion of James, also called the Infancy Gospel of James
Mary was solemnly received by the temple community which was headed by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place to become herself the "holy of holies" of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine child who was to be born in her. The Church also sees this feast as a feast which marks the end of the physical temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God.

A great book to read about the Protoevangelion of James is written by Fredricka Mathewes-Green called The Lost Gospel of Mary.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jesse Tree Orthodox Christian Advent Devotions

Since coming to the Orthodox Christian faith I have realize that the "traditional" Advent Wreath doesn't really work for us anymore. Our advent starts about two weeks earlier than Catholics and other Christians. So the traditional advent wreath would have to be altered significantly for us. This year I found a company on Etsy that makes and sales Orthodox Jesse tree ornaments! They even include scripture to read along with each ornament. You can read all about the whole concept behind the Jesse Tree on the Antiochian website. If you don't have money in your budget to buy the ornaments above you can make your own. I have put together images for the 40 days (I might add images for the 12 days of Christmas if time allows). You can get them free by clicking here  Here are the bible readings that are to be used with the symbol to put on the tree (it also includes readings for the 12 days of Christmas). I decided to add the Children's Bible Reader pages that correspond with the bible reading for those of you with younger children. Jesse Tree Topic, Symbol, Bible Readings, and Children’s Bible Reader Page.

To give you an idea of what your ornaments could look like, here are some of ours.

If I had been planning ahead I probably would have decoupaged them onto wood circles and drilled holes for the string.