Saint Andrew, Archbishop of Crete
The present Feast is for us the beginning of feasts. Serving as boundary to the law and to prototypes, at the same time it serves as a doorway to grace and truth. “For Christ is the end of the law” (Rom 10:4), Who, having freed us from the letter (of the law), raises us to spirit.
Here is the end (to the law): in that the Lawgiver, having made everything, has changed the letter in spirit and gathers everything in Himself (Eph 1:10), enlivening the law with grace: grace has taken the law under its dominion, and the law has become subjected to grace, so that the properties of the law not suffer reciprocal commingling, but only so that by Divine power, the servile and subservient (in the law) are transformed into the light and free (in grace), so that we are not “in bondage to the elements of the world” (Gal 4:3) and not in a condition under the slavish yoke of the letter of the law.
The Unburnt Bush Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is based on the miracle witnessed by Moses in the Old Testament. In Chapter 3 of Exodus God calls Moses on Mt. Horeb from the midst of a bush which «was burning, yet it was not consumed» (Ex. 3:2). Moses is informed that he will lead the Hebrews out of their slavery in Egypt, and then God tells him His name, «I am Who am» (Ex. 3:14).
The Church has always regarded the Unburnt Bush on Horeb as a type of the Most Holy Theotokos giving birth to the Savior Christ, while remaining a Virgin. This imagery is to be found in the Church’s hymnography (for example, the Dogmatikon at Saturday Vespers in Tone 2), and also in iconography.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today is one of the most important of the Twelve Great Feasts. We glorify the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God.
There was no human honour or glory in the life of the Queen of Heaven. And the only event linked with Her earthly life, surrounded by honour and glory, is Her falling asleep. We know about the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God from the Tradition of the Church, from reliable testimonies of the ancient Church Fathers, starting with St Dionysius the Areopagite and Melito of Sardis as well as St Epiphanius of Cyprus, St Ambrose of Milan and St Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem. The first five centuries of Christian history already commemorate in a great many detailed accounts the earthly life of the Most Holy Mother of God and Her Dormition.
On August 15, the Dormition of the Mother of God is celebrated by most Christians in the world. The Church year begins on September 1, and the first Great Feast of the year is the Nativity of the Theotokos, making the Dormition of the Theotokos the last great feast of the year. It is entirely fitting that these two feasts – celebrating the birth and falling-asleep of Mary respectively – should buttress the entire church calendar. The Church calendar tells us the story of our Salvation in the traditional way, with the climax of the story coming in the middle, which is when Easter is celebrated, before ending in a way which is somewhat symmetrical and complimentary to the beginning. Therefore, the final “scene” in our story of Salvation is the Dormition of Mary, the Mother of God.
The Icon of the feast depicts various strands of the story in one single frame. The story is this:
Sermon (2) by St. John of Damascus
THERE is no one in existence who is able to praise worthily the holy death of God’s Mother, even if he should have a thousand tongues and a thousand mouths. Not if all the most eloquent tongues could be united would their praises be sufficient. She is greater than all praise. Since, however, God is pleased with the efforts of a loving zeal, and the Mother of God with what concerns the service of her Son, suffer me now to revert again to her praises. This is in obedience to your orders, most excellent pastors, so dear to God, and we call upon the Word made flesh of her to come to our assistance. He gives speech to every mouth which is opened for Him. He is her sole pleasure and adornment. We know that in celebrating her praises we pay off our debt,  and that in so doing we are again debtors, so that the debt is ever beginning afresh.