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The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (as it is known in the West), or The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple (its name in the East), is a feast celebrated today, on November 21. In Orthodox countries today is a public holiday.

According to tradition, Mary’s elderly parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child.

In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her to the Temple, as would have been the custom according to the law of Moses).

Jesus as a male child was presented some 40 days after birth; Mary as a female child, some 80 days after her birth (September 8th), as would have been customary for a female baby, hence the date chosen (21st November) in the Church's Calendar to recognise this.

Far from setting Mary apart from the rest of humanity, this feast reminds us that she is human, subject to cultural expectations of the time and the place of her birth. What does set her apart however is her response “Let it be to me according to your word”. She, as the first Christian, the first to carry Christ, continues in her concern for us by joining her prayers with ours.

Lord God, you are the source of everlasting light. As Mary was presented in the Temple, so may we too be presented before you, with hearts cleansed by your embracing love. May we, like Mary, serve you all our days, and proudly present you to others in our words and deeds

as God-bearers in our own generation.

“My soul glorifies the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.

He looks on his servant in her nothingness;

henceforth all ages will call me blessed.

He casts the mighty from their thrones

and raises the lowly.

He fills the starving with good things,

sends the rich away empty.”

Pregnant with hope

Now is the time of watching

and waiting

a time pregnant with hope

a time to watch and pray.

Christ our hope,

bare brown trees,

etched dark across a winter sky,

leaves fallen, rustling,

ground hard and cold,

remind us to prepare for your coming;

remind us to prepare for the time

when the soles of your feet

will touch the ground,

when you will become one of us

to be at one with us.

May we watch for the signs,

listen for the messenger,

wait for the good news

to slip into our world,

our lives.

Christ our advent hope,

help us to clear the way for you;

to clear the clutter from our minds,

to sift the silt from our hearts,

to move the boulders

that prevent us meeting you.

Help us to make straight the highways,

to unravel the deception

that leads to war,

to release those in captivity.

May sorrow take flight,

and our people sing

a song of peace

and hope be born again.

Kate Mcllhagga

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