The Virgin Mary: A Celebration of Our Faith: Session 1: Nativity of the Theotokos—Senior Group


  Theme Of Lesson: Nativity of the Theotokos
 
Sub-Theme   Mary’s connection to humanity & God’s love


  Objectives:

     
  • Describe   the significance of the event of the birth of the Theotokos.
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  • Contrast   the attitude of Mary as the “New Eve” with that of Eve’s   disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
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  • Read   the icon of the feast and explain the narrative details that are similar to   the icon of the Nativity of Christ.
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  • Compare   the text of the Hymn from the Praises of the Matins Service for the Nativity   of Christ to the Theotokos
     

Resources:

     
  • Bible
  •  
  • Bible   aids
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  •   The following website will give you the Apocryphal writing of the noncanonical   Gospel of
      James (Protoevangelian) that has the texts used in the feasts for the Theotokos.   http://wesley.nnu.edu/noncanon/gospels/gosjames.htm [Sections IV and V for   the Nativity of the Theotokos]
  •  
  • Genesis   3, esp. Genesis 3:15

Liturgy,   Feasts, Hymns


Troparion   of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone Four)
  Your Nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe!
  The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from you, O Theotokos!
  By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing.
  By destroying death, He has granted us eternal life.
 
  Kontakion of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone Four
)
  By your Nativity, O most pure Virgin,
  Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness;
  Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death.
  And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you:  
  “The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the Nourisher of our   Life.”

Hymn   to the Theotokos
  Virginity is foreign to mothers;
  childbearing is strange for virgins.
  But in you, O Theotokos,
  both were accomplished!
  For this, all the earthly nations unceasingly magnify you!

Activities  

     
  •   Discuss how Mary’s birth began the events that reversed Eve’s   disobedience in the Garden of Eden and why Mary is considered the “New   Eve.” A contrast chart on butcher paper is a good group activity.
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  • Examine   closely the Troparion ,the Kontakion, the Hymn to the Virgin Mary, and the   Hymn from the Praises for this Feast.
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  • List   phrases and terms that describe key concepts or theological statements about   the Theotokos.
      Icons
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  • A   copy of the two icons of the Nativity will be included, as well as the section   from The Icon Book.

  Teacher’s Notes & Discussion-Starter Questions:

     
  • “Nothing   about this event is mentioned anywhere in the Holy Scriptures. But why should   there be? Is there anything remarkable, anything especially unique about the   normal birth of a child, a birth like any other? And if the Church began to   commemorate the event with a special feast, it was not because the birth was   somehow unique or miraculous or out of the ordinary: but because on the contrary,   the very fact that it is routine discloses something fresh and radiant about   everything we call “routine” and ordinary, it gives new depth   to the “unremarkable” details of human life. What do we see in   the icon of the feast when we look at it with our spiritual eyes? There on   the bed lies a woman, Anna according to Church tradition, who has just given   birth to a daughter. Next to her is the child’s father, Joachim, according   to the same tradition. A few women stand by the bed washing the newborn baby   for the first time. The most routine, unremarkable event. Or is it? Could   it be that the Church is telling us through this icon that every birth, every   entrance of a new human being into the world and life is a miracle of miracles,   a miracle that explodes all routine, for it marks the start of something unending,   the start of a unique unrepeatable human life. The beginning of a new person.   And with each birth, the world is itself in some sense created anew and given   as a gift to this new human being to be his life, his path, his creation.”   pp. 23 – 24, Schmemann.