5 Ways to Celebrate the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

The Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos often falls right around Thanksgiving, which can make it easy to overlook at times in the bustle of travel, family, and shopping sales.  However, by putting forth just a little effort, we can help remind our families of the importance of this feast and line up our family life with the Church’s calendar.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Attend Divine Liturgy and Read the Story of the Feast

As with any feast of the Church, bringing your family to church to participate in Divine Liturgy is truly the best way to celebrate any feast.  Also, reading the story of the feast helps it come alive to young children.  I highly recommend the children’s book The Story of Mary, the Mother of God by Dorrie Papademetriou.

2. Sing the Troparion of the Feast

One of the things that drew me to the Orthodox Church was the richness and depth of theology in our hymns.  By helping our families learn the hymns for each feast, we are allowing that richness to become part of the way they view the world.  How amazing!

The Troparion for the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is:

“Today is the preview of the goodwill of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her,
Rejoice, O Divine Fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.”

There are A lot of big words in the feast’s hymn.  If you have small children, it would be a good idea to try to explain the hymn as you teach it.  How is the Theotokos a “preview” of God’s goodwill?  What does it mean that she is the “fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation”? 

3. Pray an Akathist Hymn

In the Orthodox Church, we also pray prayers that are called Akathist hymns.  Akathist hymns are dedicated to a particular saints, events, or a person of the Trinity and are designed to guide a Christian’s prayers and meditation upon that person or event.  The word Akathist itself means “not sitting,” as the general posture for prayer in the Orthodox Church is standing.  The most famous Akathist hymn (referred to generally just as The Akathist) is dedicated to the Theotokos and is a part of the Lenten services.

There are many beautiful Akathist hymns dedicated to the Theotokos which would make a wonderful addition to the feast day.  As it is close to the American holiday of Thanksgiving, one fantastic option is the Akathist of Thanksgiving.  Another beloved prayer is the Akathist to the Mother of God Nurturer of Children.  Adding either of these prayers to your feast day family prayer time would be a lovely way to honor the Theotokos.

4. Temple of the Holy Spirit Craft

The Theotokos would become the literal temple of the Holy Spirit when she bore Christ in her womb, which is foreshadowed by her entrance into the Temple.  Paul wrote that we, as Christians, are also temples of the Holy Spirit.  This feast is a great day to make a simple craft that will help children begin to understand this abstract concept. 

First, have children lay down on a piece of large paper (butcher paper, etc.).  Then, trace their bodies with a marker.  When they get up, they will be delighted to see an outline of themselves on the paper.  Next, children can color in their features and clothing.  Finally, once all of the drawing and coloring is complete, tape or paste a small paper icon of Christ on the paper child’s heart.  Explain to them that Christ, through the Holy Spirit, came upon them at their chrismation and dwells within them.  At the bottom of the paper you can write the words, “A Temple of the Holy Spirit.”

5. Lantern Procession

To young children, one of the most interesting parts of this feast is the procession of lantern-bearing maidens that accompanied the Theotokos to the Temple. Your family can act out this procession by making lanterns (or torches) of your own.  The torches could simply be flashlights or candles.  Or, you can use craft supplies like cardstock and tissue papers to create a lantern.  Once you have your lanterns, have one family member hold the icon of the Theotokos while the others surround it carrying their lanterns.  Then, walk around your house singing the Hymn to the Theotokos.

By Sarah Wright

Excerpt from: http://www.orthodoxmotherhood.com/ways-celebrate-feast-entrance-theotokos-temple/



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