The annunciation fits into Holy Lent, and we know that now the feast of the Annunciation falls on the twenty-fifth of March, and because of that we know it can move back forth in the time of Lent all the way from, on the new calendar, the first week of Lent until the old calendar Monday or Tuesday after Pascha. But it wasn’t that way in the beginning. The reason why we have the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth now is because in the reign of Justinian we took on a Western feast which is known popularly as Christmas. The nativity of the Lord was broken out from the Theophany and set on a certain date. Once that it was done it was fairly logical that going back nine months before that you would have the Annunciation.
Yet the Annunciation remains connected to the Great Fast, and you will see that if you’re here a week from Friday because we sing the Akathist hymn, we will sing the Kontakion: “O victorious leader of triumphant hosts.” And we will reiterate the Annunciation at that time by speaking of how the angel stood at the house of Mary and cried out. What this is for us is a beginning. The Jews had – I believe it was – four new years, and the twenty-fifth of March is for us a kind of new year. We have our new year on September first. We have our new year on January first – St. Basil’s day. But this is a kind of new year for us – it’s the time when the spring comes and when the tender shoots come forth from the earth and from the trees and the new life appears. And it was at this moment that the Holy Church chose to celebrate, in the midst of the bright sadness of the Lenten fast, the great feast of the word of God coming down from heaven. Because we know, and I know all of the children know, that Jesus would become man on the twenty-fifth of December, or on whatever day His nativity occurred. But God became a man in the hour and the moment when His mother said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.” At that moment she became the new Eve and the new Adam became incarnate of her. That’s what the rest of that first oikos of the Akathis hymn says. The angel said, “Beholding Him who is eternal taking form within thee I sat in awe and cried, ‘Rejoice, O unwedded bride.’” It’s a wonderful time for beginnings. It’s a wonderful rest in the midst of our fast, and today we thank God for we know that not only will it be true that in about twenty-six days from now we’ll all be singing, “Christos anesti! Christos voskrese! Hristos a inviat! Christ is risen!” but we know that nine months from now on the Church’s calendar we’ll be celebrating the revelation to the Earth, to men and to the eyes of angels, that which today we behold with unveiled faces: God becoming man to make man God.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, glory to Jesus Christ!