Is the virgin birth really predicted in the Old Testament?

Mary with child

Did the Old Testament prophet Isaiah actually predict that Mary would conceive Christ while still a virgin?In Guy Ritchie's 2000 movie Snatch, Benicio Del Toro plays a diamond thief named Franky Four Fingers. As the story begins, Franky and his fellow workers of iniquity are in Antwerp for a heist, disguised as Hasidic Jews.As part of the ruse, while guards check for weapons and surveillance cameras roll, Franky rambles on about the veracity of Scripture:The Septuagint scholars … [Read more...]

Why celebrate the conception of Mary?

Conception of the Theotokos

Rare is the religious image depicting a couple hugging tenderly by their bed before lovemaking, but today Orthodox Christians celebrate the conception of Mary, and the icon of the feast frankly captures her parents embracing bedside.An icon? A feast? Because someone got pregnant? Obviously the church considers Mary's conception of great importance. Here's why.Scripture repeatedly presents special children as unlikely children. Isaac, Samson, and Samuel were all miraculously born to women … [Read more...]

How I learned to love Mary, mother of Jesus

Icon of the Dormition

The first time I really got Mary was on Good Friday a few years ago.In a very solemn service the night of Great and Holy Friday, as the day is called in the Orthodox Church, a series of funeral dirges are sung, one after another. I stood there in a dark church, a bier with an embroidered icon of the crucified Christ in the middle of the room, as the chanters and congregation expressed the mystery of the Lord's Passion in somber melodies. How could the Lord of Life die? And to what end? … [Read more...]

Celebrating faithful mothers

Celebrating Mothers

The most obvious thing to do with mothers is to celebrate them.I watch my Megan day in and out striving to raise, nurture, encourage, protect, correct, and prepare our kids. It's a humbling thing to behold. When I say that I couldn't do it, I say the obvious. When I say that she does, I speak of the miraculous.God has a special concern for mothers, something apparent in both the Bible and the memory of the church, which tell the story of so many noteworthy mothers. Just start with the … [Read more...]

Mary said yes. What about us?

Mary said yes

Many modern Christians have misgivings about Mary, but what if we checked those misgivings for a moment? There's a powerful lesson for us in the life and example of this woman, a lesson about humility, obedience, and putting faith into action. And it all starts with a yes.As the evangelist Luke gives the account, the angel Gabriel wings into view and tells Mary, then an unwed teenager, that she will conceive a child. And not just any child. This would be Jesus, the son of David, the "Son of … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas! In March?

The Annunciation

Today is March 25. Merry Christmas!Well, sort of. Let me explain. There is a widespread belief -- or maybe a suspicion -- that Christmas is little more than a baptized version of a pagan winter solstice celebration. The idea is that the church "christianized" the celebration so recently converted pagans would celebrate Jesus instead of Saturn or Sol or what have you. … [Read more...]

The church is room full of sisters

The Dormition

A woman sits in a church, her cheeks and breast wet with tears. She's come from Sweden to this basilica in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, part of Provence, not far from the Mediterranean Sea. In Roman Catholic tradition, Mary Magdalene is believed to have come the region before her death. Her relics are preserved in the church … [Read more...]


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