Theotokos, Helper In Childbirth


This week, Orthodox Christians commemorate the Dormition of the Theotokos – the falling asleep in the Lord of Mary, the mother of Christ.

During our Dormition Liturgy I watched as our catechumens stood before the altar. Those in the process of learning the Orthodox faith in anticipation of reception into the Church approach the front of the church for prayers.

Among them was a young couple we recently learned are having their first child. As they bowed their heads in prayer, I thought back to our struggles as my wife and I tried to deliver a baby into the world.

Helper In Childbirth

During our second pregnancy, a couple with whom we are very close gave us an icon of the pregnant Theotokos. This icon – Theotokos, Helper in Childbirth – depicts Mary with a window into her womb and the Christ child inside.

Surrounding Christ is the darkness of the night sky, with stars all around. It signifies the humility of God who humbled Himself to be born of a woman. The Creator of the entire universe contained in Mary’s womb.

It’s not something about which Protestants spend a lot of time thinking. Growing up as a Baptist, I thought of Mary as just a vessel, a holding tank for Jesus until He was ready to enter the picture. But this glosses over what an amazing thing Mary did by saying “Yes” to God.

A week or so ago my wife gifted this icon to the young couple in our church, to bless them and give them encouragement during their own pregnancy.

My wife told them about the daily prayers she said during her pregnancy. She asked for the prayers of the Mother of God to protect our unborn child, just as the Theotokos had protected our Lord during her own pregnancy.

When we commemorate the Dormition, we celebrate the wondrous thing Mary did for mankind by consenting to the will of God. Her act brought salvation to the world through Christ, and she is worthy of praise. She rightly said “All generations will call me blessed.”

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