SHE DID NOT TURN BACK and DANCED
(Tuesday, November 21)
“And the child was three years old, and Joachim said: Invite the daughters of the Hebrews that are undefiled, and let them take each a lamp, and let them stand with the lamps burning, that the child may not turn back, and her heart be captivated from the temple of the Lord. And they did so until they went up into the temple of the Lord. And the priest received her, and kissed her, and blessed her, saying: The Lord has magnified your name in all generations. In you, on the last of the days, the Lord will manifest His redemption to the sons of Israel. And he set her down upon the third step of the altar, and the Lord God sent grace upon her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. And her parents went down marvelling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back.” (Protoevangelium of James, §7, §8a)
Today, my friends, when NC-folks celebrate the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (also known as The Presentation of Mary), I’m looking at the apocryphal text, on which this feast is based. Setting aside the issues of “apocryphal” texts and the historical veracity of this specific event in the traditioned life of the Theotokos, I love that this feast gives me an occasion to celebrate *my* entrance into, and dedication to, God’s “house.” We celebrate *her* entrance and dedication to God’s house as an icon or example for each of us, members of the Church, because the Mother of God is traditionally seen as an image of the “Mother” Church.
How did she enter? 1. She was a small child and was brought by others. The Slavonic name for this feast, Vvedenie; meaning *the leading into* the Temple, accentuates this aspect; 2. she did not look back; and 3. she danced. As for me, *I* make many entrances into God’s “house,” both physically and spiritually. My mind and body might wander occasionally far away from God’s “place,” which is everywhere, when I have the eyes to see that. It is through others that I am brought back, both through the intercessions of the already deceased and the good voices in our midst here, – when I let myself be teachable, like a small child. I don’t know what to say about the dancing part, because I’m not much of a dancer as I’m sure you will be disappointed to hear, my friends. 🙂 But I can tell you that every coming back, every (re-)entry into the “house” of God is a great, daily joy and relief, which might be described as a dance of the heart. Today let me let myself be led into God’s place again, by the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos and all of you. Most Holy Theotokos, save us!