Monday, August 31, 2009
Happy New Year!
Today, September 1 (Revised Julian Calendar), Orthodox Christians celebrate the beginning of a new church year. Western Christians celebrate the beginning of the church year with the first Sunday of Advent which is usually in late November. As our church year closes today, our two most recent major feasts were the Dormiion of the Theotokos and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. If the calendar is the liturgical celebration of the history of salvation then our salvtion is culminated in these two feasts. With the Dormition of the Theotokos, our resurrection from the dead is realized as the Theotokos was the first fruits of Resurrection. With the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, our Lord's incarnation was preached even in Hades which eventually would be subject to the power of the Man-God, the theanthropos.
But why do Eastern Christians celebrate the new year on September 1? According to church tradition, September 1 was the day, according to the Scriptures, when the people of Israel celebrated the feast of Blowing of the Trumpets (Lev.23:24-5; Num. 29:1-2). This is also the day when Christ began his ministry when he came to synagogue because it was his turn to read from Scripture. Handed the Book of Isaiah, he found the place and began "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for which cause He hath annointed Me." (Luke 4: 16-30). The beginning of our church year is marked by our Lord's teaching and ends with St. John the Forerunner going down even to Hades to prepare His way. So, happy new year everyone!
Troparion of Indiction (tone 2): O Maker of all creation, Who hast established the time and the seasons in Thine own power: Bless the crown of this year with Thy goodness, O Lord, and keep our rulers and Thy flock in peace, by the intercessions of the Theotokos, save us!
Kontakion of the Feast (tone 4): O God of all, Who hast made all the ages, O Soverign Lord, truly transcendent in essence, bestow Thy grace and blessing on the year to come; and, O Most Compassionate, in Thine infinite mercy, save all them that worship Thee, Who alone art our Master, and that with fear, O Saviour, cry to Thee: Grant unto all men a fruitful and godly year.