December 9 was the Feast of the Conception of the Theotokos. The following lines come from a sermon for the feast of her Nativity, on September 8.
MANY times, before God gives us some blessing, a grace, he tries us with a test, whose outcome determines whether we are proved worthy to receive that divine gift.
This is something we may mark in the godly forebears, who, when the time nears for God to give them a child, he granted them to be tried still further. It was the Feast of Tabernacles, and when they went to church to offer gifts, the priest Rubim scoffed at them, saying to them that they were not worthy to bring gifts to God, since they had not raised up children for Israel.
The godly forebears were deeply saddened following this event, but they did not lose hope. They took refuge in “prayer from the depths” – Joachim upon a hill, and Anna in the garden – which at is turned out was heard immediately, since an angel of the Lord informed each one separately, that there would be a conception and birth of a child which would be proclaimed in all the world.
So too we, dear brethren, should show unmurmuring patience in tribulations and in trials, which God grants for our own profit and spiritual prosperity.
We pray our Lady the Mother of God and the godly fore-mother Anna, who had the blessing to heal physical barrenness, will heal our hearts barren of spiritual works, so that God will send his divine and sweetest grace into our souls, which makes man beautiful, renews him, makes him immortal, makes him incorruptible.
Fr. Spyridon Bonias, Greek Orthodox Holy Monastery of Axion Estin, Australia. Translation is mine.
TODAY the bonds of childlessness are loosed; for God hearkeneth unto Joachim and Anna, to whom beyond their hopes it is clearly promised to bear a godly child; of whom was born the uncircumscribed Himself, becoming mortal, through an angel urging this cry to her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.