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Feast of the Annunciation ብስራተ ገብርኤል

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebration of the Annunciation is known by the name ‘Bisrate Gebriel’ . It is celebrated on Dec 31 (Tahisas 22) of the Ethiopian Calendar.

Annunciation is the feast of happiness and hope for the whole world, because the coming of Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Kristos is not just for a group of believers, but for the entire humanity.

The Feast commemorates the announcement by the Saint Archangel Gabriel to the Holy Virgin Mariyam that Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Kristos, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb. Even though the actual date of the feast is 9 months and 5 days before Jan 7 (መጋቢት 29 - April 7 ), the father of the church Archbishop Diocese(ደቅስዮስ) have moved the feast to one week before Lidit because it would otherwise fall within the great fast before Easter (Lent).

Luke (1:26-39)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

It is on the Feast of the Annunciation, that Ethiopian Orthodox Christians commemorate both the divine initiative of God, whereby He took on flesh from the Holy Virgin Mariyam for our salvation, and the human response, whereby Holy Virgin Mariyam freely accepted the vocation offered to her. He elected to become man, and He desired to do this with the willing agreement of her whom He chose as His mother. Holy Virgin Mariyam became the Mother of God, it is not just because God chose her but also because she herself chose to accepted His will and plan.

By choosing to follow the will of God she received great honor from God. We see in the Gospel of Luke that the Holy Spirit filled her cousin Elizabeth and John the baptist (while he was still in his mothers womb). By the Holy Spirit we see John leaping with joy in the womb of his mother when she heard the voice of the Holy Virgin Mariyam. Elizabeth herself being filled with the Holy Spirit praises the Holy Virgin Mariyam saying “Blessed art thou among women”.

The prayer of our Holy Mother, Her intercession and blessings be with us. Amen.

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