The Visitation, artist unknown

Priest: The Virgin, bearing God in her womb, hastened to visit Elizabeth, whose own babe at once knowing her greeting, rejoiced and leaping up as if in song, cried out to the Theotokos:

Rejoice, branch of an unwithered shoot;
Rejoice, land of unblemished fruit.
Rejoice, you who cultivate the husband and who loves humankind;
Rejoice, for you gave birth to the gardener of our life.
Rejoice, arable land yielding an abundance of compassion;
Rejoice, table laden an abundance of grace.
Rejoice, for you make flourish the meadows of luxury;
Rejoice, for you prepare a safe harbor for our souls.
Rejoice, intercession’s acceptable incense;
Rejoice, expiation for all the world.
Rejoice, goodwill of God to mortals;
Rejoice, boldness of mortals before God.
Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.

People: Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.

(excerpt from The Akathist Hymn)

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David: to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill.”

Gospel of Luke,

Ávē Marī́a, grā́tiā plḗna, Dóminus tḗcum. Benedícta tū in muliéribus, et benedíctus frū́ctus véntris túī, Iḗsūs. Sā́ncta Marī́a, Mā́ter Déī, ṓrā prō nṓbīs peccātṓribus, nunc et in hṓrā mórtis nóstrae. Āmēn.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Dorothea Lange, 1936, New York Public Library

We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.

― Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

A blessed Incarnation to you. May all blessing and protection rest on you and those you love and may this troubled world be healed.

… we say together…