On August 28, on the holy day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, we had a beautiful celebration at St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:
“Today we are celebrating the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. The name of this feast suggests that we do not celebrate the death of the Mother of God. She did not die, but fell asleep. Thus the feast is called the Dormition, Falling Asleep. Being Orthodox Christians, at every Liturgy we pray that we may also have a falling asleep, a similar end of our earthly life. We ask the Lord that a Christian ending to our lives may be “painless, unashamed and peaceful,” and that we may have a “good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ”.”
“Speaking of the Most Holy Mother of God, we have to remember that She is the holy Virgin and the first Christian Saint. In Her we can see a perfect Christian. And we can see our own vocation as a reality, being accomplished in Her life and death. She is an example for us, but at the same time, we know that because She is the Mother of Christ, She prays for us, and we can ask in our prayers to Her to be with us now and also at the time of our death. And we believe very strongly that She will be there because, as it was said, She became the first Saint of the Church.”
“But speaking about the Blessed Virgin, we have to remember that She was also the first Saint before the Dormition. And the life of the Mother of God can be for us an example of a Christian life.”
“Today’s Gospel lesson which is read for all feasts of the Theotokos, tells us that some woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You.” (Lk. 11, 27). But the Lord said to her: “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk. 11, 28). If Jesus agreed only with the words of that woman, He would confirm the blessedness of His Holy Mother. It would be right. But our Lord always wishes us to do more than just right. He does not tell that the woman is wrong, but He adds: “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” It is good to be the Mother of the Savior, but it is better to hear the word of God and obey it.”
“The Most Holy Mother of God is an example of a human being who obeys the word of God. She did obey when She received that Annunciation that She will bear the Son of God. She was obedient all other days of Her life. That is very important for us. We are Orthodox Christians, and that means that we also have to accept and to be obedient to the word of God. And what is the word of God to us? It is the Sacred Scripture, first of all, the Holy Gospel. The Gospel is like a constitution for us, the main law.”
“Secondly, the Mother of God was a human being who prayed, who was always with Christ, not only physically but spiritually – at the first sign, the first miracle of Christ, She takes the initiative: She was there. And that is also something for us – we are Christians, so we have to stay in the Church. The life of the Church is necessary for us to be saved – not only the Gospel, the word of Christ, but the work of Christ in the community of the Church.”
“And the third thing – this is very important – the Mother of God is an example of obedience to Her own Son. And that is also important for us, because we have the Gospel – the word of the Lord; we have the life of the Church; and then we have our Church hierarchy, the bishops. It is important and necessary for us to be obedient also to the bishop because he is in the Church the icon of Christ. He is not an authority like the civil authorities. He is not a king, but a servant. The bishops and priests are the servants of God and of the people.”
“So we cannot separate the Gospel, Church life and our obedience to Christ, to His icon in the Church which is the bishop. If we accept that, and if we have a life in that spirit, then the end of our life here in this world will be also not a death but a dormition, a falling asleep – a holy dormition – and we will receive from Christ the Kingdom of heaven.”
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and altar servers performed the rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast, singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.
The Rector also congratulated the faithful on the occasion of this great holy day and on the conclusion of the fast in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God.