"Understanding our Purpose," the theme of this year's conference, is kind of the theme of our whole lives. As we go to work in the morning, or church on Sunday, or finish that master's degree, or get married—what is the purpose of it all?
Before we can discern the unique path and purpose for each of our lives, we first need to know what our ultimate purpose is as human beings. As Christians we know that our purpose comes from God, and perhaps the most direct and succinct instruction we have regarding that comes from Jesus' simple words: “Follow me." Jesus Christ defines true humanity, so following Him out of our old humanity into His humanity is our primary purpose. But the kind of humanity He demonstrates for us—the kind that can live righteously, die triumphantly, and be raised victoriously—is attained by Him because he is both man and God. How can we mere humans hope to achieve that kind of transformed nature?
Because we know it has been done. The Feast of the Dormition is the celebration of a mere human who followed Christ into that perfected humanity. It's true that no mere human could have blazed the trail that Christ the God-Man (theanthropos) did, but once He blazed that trail to atonement with God and transformed humanity, the way was opened. In Mary we see proof that the saving work of Christ is effective, that it can transform the old human nature into the new human nature. The death and resurrection of Christ would not be salvific for us unless we were able to follow Him there. Mary shows us that we can follow Him there, that our humanity is now capable, in Christ, to die and be raised with Him. Mary's death and resurrection is the proof that Christ's death and resurrection achieved its purpose for us.
Mary isn't unique in her dormition and assumption—only in her timing. She received the special honor as the Mother of God of being among the first to follow after Christ in attaining to the fullness of transformed humanity, but where she has followed Christ we also are to follow. Our ultimate purpose, demonstrated by the Theotokos, is simply to follow Christ where He leads. On this Feast of the Dormition, may we be encouraged by the proof that mere humanity has been raised up, and also be spurred on to follow where Jesus and his Mother are leading.
-Stephen Brannen, Website Chair