The Conception of St. John the Baptist + September 23
John the Forerunner, the fruit of prayer, hath budded from a barren womb today. Rejoice, O wilderness, and dance for joy, O mankind! Behold, the preacher of repentance beginneth to take flesh in his mother’s womb. Come, as we rejoice over his glorious conception, O ye feast-lovers, let us form a choir, crying: O thou greatest of them that are born of women, cease not to intercede for us who with faith honor thy divine conception, that we may find forgiveness of sins and Great Mercy.
--Doxasticon from Great Vespers, Tone 6
Rejoice, O barren one, who had not given birth; for behold thou hast conceived clearly the one who is the dawn of the Sun Who was about to illuminate the whole universe, blighted with sightlessness. Shout in joy, O Zacharias, crying in favour, Verily, the one to be born is a Prophet of the High.
--Troparion, Tone 4
Today in the Holy Orthodox Church we commemorate the conception of the honorable, glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. On this day the mercy, miracles and wisdom of God are celebrated: His mercy toward the devout and righteous parents of St. John, the aged Zacharias and Elizabeth, who all their lives had wished for and begged a child from God; His miracle, that of John’s conception in the aged womb of Elizabeth; and His wisdom, in the dispensation of man’s salvation. God had an especially great intention for John: namely, that he be the Prophet and Forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Savior of the world. Through His angels, God announced the births of Isaac to the childless Sarah, Samson to the childless wife of Manoah, and John the Forerunner to the childless Zacharias and Elizabeth. All of these were those for whom He had special intentions, and He foretold their birth through His angels.
On September 23, we also commemorate the holy, glorious and right-victorious Martyr Raidos; New-martyrs Nicholas and John; Venerable Xanthippa and Polyxena of Spain. Through their intercessions, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us, and save us. Amen.