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This page is under construction.  Material about each of the Great Feasts, together with an overview, will be added progressively during 2020-21.

On 21 September (8 September on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates the Great Feast of the Nativity, or Birth, of the Mother of God.  As the church year begins on 1 September, this is the first of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church.  On it we commemorate the wondrous birth of the Holy Virgin to her elderly, righteous, but hitherto childless parents, Joachim and Anna, the circumstances of which are preserved in the memory of the Church.  This commemoration is known to have been observed in Jerusalem by the middle of the Fifth Century AD, and throughout the Christian world by the middle of the Seventh Century AD.  The focus of the liturgical texts is the role of the Holy Virgin in the Incarnation of Christ.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures at All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy are Genesis 28:10-17 (Jacob dreams of a Ladder reaching to Heaven); Ezekiel 43:27 – 44:4 (The East Gate and the Prince); Proverbs 9:1-11 (Wisdom has built her house); Luke 1:39-49, 56 (The visitation and the Magnificat); Philippians 2:5-11 (The Hymn to Christ); and Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28 (Martha and Mary, The truly blessed).

On 27 September (14 September on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord.  Of all the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, this one alone does not commemorate an event from the earthly life of our Lord or His Mother.  On it, rather, we commemorate the finding of the Cross of the Lord by Saint Helen in 326 AD and the restoration of the Cross to Jerusalem in 629 AD after it had fallen into the hands of the Persians.  This commemoration is known to have been observed throughout the Christian world by the Seventh Century AD.  The focus of the liturgical texts is the salvation that we have through the Cross of Christ.  An important element of the All-night Vigil on this Great Feast is the “bringing-out” of the Cross for veneration and the singing of the hymn, “Before Thy Cross, we bow down and worship Thee, O Master, and Thy Holy Resurrection we glorify”.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures at All-night vigil and Divine Liturgy are Exodus 15:22 -16:1 (At Marah and Elim); Proverbs 3:11-18 (God’s discipline, Wisdom as a tree of life); Isaiah 60:11-16 (The splendour of Jerusalem); John 12:28-36 (The prediction of Jesus’ death); 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 (True Wisdom); and John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35. (The Crucifixion and death of Christ).  For the sake of the Cross of Christ, this is a day of fasting.

On 4 December (21 November on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates the Great Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple.  On it we commemorate the dedication of the three year-old Holy Virgin to service in the Temple of Jerusalem by her elderly and righteous parents, Joachim and Anna, the circumstances of which are preserved in the memory of the Church.  This commemoration is known to have been observed in Jerusalem by the end of the Fifth Century AD, and elsewhere in the Christian world by the Ninth Century AD.  As with the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the focus of the liturgical texts is the role of the Holy Virgin in the Incarnation of Christ.  A recurring theme in the services is that the Holy Virgin entered the Temple to herself become the “living temple” of God.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures at All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy are Exodus 40:1-5, 9-10, 16, 34-35 (The Tabernacle erected and arranged); I (III) Kings 7:51, 8:1, 3-4, 6-7, 9-11 (The Ark is brought into the Temple); Ezekiel 43:27-44:4 (The East Gate and the Prince); Luke 1:39-49, 56 (The visitation and the Magnificat); Hebrews 9:1-7 (The Earthly Sanctuary); and Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28 (Martha and Mary; The truly blessed).

On 7 January (25 December on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas, the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ.  On it we commemorate the birth of Christ, the circumstances of which are recorded in the Holy Scriptures and preserved in the memory of the Church.  This commemoration is known to have been observed in Rome early in the Fourth Century AD, and in the great centres of the Christian East by the end of that century.  The focus of the liturgical texts is the union of Creator and Creation in the person of Christ.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures for All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy are Matthew 1:18-25 (§2, The birth of Jesus Christ); Galatians 4:4-7 (§209, Adoption through Christ); and Matthew 2:1-12 (§3, The visit of the Magi, The star of Bethlehem).

On 19 January (6 January on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates Theophany, the Great Feast of the Baptism of Christ.  On it we commemorate the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, the circumstances of which are recorded in the Holy Scriptures.  This commemoration is known to have been observed in by the middle of the Fourth Century AD.  The focus of the liturgical texts is the manifestation of God, the enlightenment He brings to the world, and the renewal of creation in Christ.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures for All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy are Mark 1:9-11 (§2, The baptism of Jesus); Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7 (§209, The work of grace); and Matthew 3:13-17 (§6, The baptism of Jesus).  A particular feature of the services for Theophany is the Great Blessing of Water, ideally served at a spring, river or lake, but often simply served in church.  In our parish this Great Feast has an added significance as it was the patronal feast of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Theophany, a parish that functioned in Mayfield (Newcastle) from 1994-2009.

On 15 February (2 February on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.  On it we commemorate the presentation of Christ in the Temple at Jerusalem on the fortieth day after His birth, the circumstances of which are recorded in the Holy Scriptures.  This commemoration is known to have been observed early in the Fourth Century AD, becoming more widespread in the middle of the Sixth Century AD.  The focus of the liturgical texts is the submission of Christ, the Giver of the Law, to the requirements of the Law, and much of the hymnody draws on the words of Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver: “Now lettest Thy servant depart in peace, O Master” (Luke 2:29-32).  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures for All-night Vigil and Divine Liturgy are a composite reading from Exodus, Numbers and Leviticus (Exodus 12:51, 13:1-3, 13:10-16,22-29; Numbers 8:16; Leviticus 12:1-4; and Numbers 816-17, Consecration of the Firstborn); Isaiah 6:1-12 (Isaiah before the Throne of God); Isaiah 19:1-5,12,16,19-21 (God’s judgement against Egypt); Luke 2:25-32 (§8, The presentation of the Infant Lord in His Temple); Hebrews 7:7-17 (§316, A change in the priesthood); and Luke 2:22-40 (§7, The presentation of the Infant Lord in His Temple).  A particular feature of the services for the Meeting of the Lord is the blessing of candles, customarily replaced in New South Wales parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the blessing of fruit.

On 7 April (25 March on the Church Calendar) the Orthodox Church celebrates the Great Feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God.  On it we commemorate the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Holy Virgin that she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the Son of God.  This commemoration is known to have been observed in the Fifth Century AD.  The focus of the liturgical texts is on the Incarnation of Christ and the Holy Virgin’s obedience to God’s will.  The canon at Matins takes the form of a dialogue between the Archangel and the Holy Virgin.  The appointed readings from the Holy Scriptures at All-night vigil and Divine Liturgy are Luke 1:39-49,56 (The visitation and the Magnificat); Hebrews 2:11-18 (§306, The Lord shares in our humanity); and Luke 1:24-38 (§3, The announcement of Jesus’ birth).  As this Great Feast can from year to year fall on different days during Great Lent, on Pascha itself, and during Bright Week, the form of the services can vary considerably.

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