THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
January 5, 2020
Eve of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The 3 Ways to Bethlehem
The Bible provides us several different roads to reach Bethlehem.
The first way is described by the evangelists Matthew, by the image of the Magi, who as I stated previously, were called wise men. They were the scientists of their time and were studying the stars and planets as well as predicting the future. Fundamentally, they were considered the intellectually elite of the time. The story of the Magi indicates that some people may reach the Bethlehem manger by way of science, research, and knowledge. Indeed, you have probably heard people express that there exists a gap between religion and science. Some scientists even say that an intelligent man cannot be a man of faith. From experience and history, however, we know that numerous people have found the very way to Bethlehem as a result of science. Yes, one can be a scientist and a believer! Even today, many leading scientists are people of great faith. Those scholars who have eyes to see and follow the light of the Lord do reach Bethlehem, and science is not bothering them, but rather helping. The famous French naturalist, scientist, philosopher and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin arrived at the following conclusion: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
The second way to Bethlehem is reported by Luke the Evangelist. He writes that Joseph and Mary embarked on a journey to Bethlehem to fulfill their civic duty, to pay taxes, and to be registered for a census proclaimed by Caesar Augustus. Indeed, the journey to faith passes also through our daily lives; by our being law-abiding citizens of United States of America, fulfilling our civic duty, taking care as parents of our children, loving and honoring our parents and family in our roles as children, honoring and expressing gratitude to our neighbor, loving each other, and just going outside and greeting people with a warm smile…
In this humble and simple way, God reveals himself to us, works miracles in our lives and leads us to the manger of Bethlehem — to the cradle of our faith. Mary and Joseph didn’t think that seven hundred years ago the prophet Micah prophesied that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. No, it was just their civic duty to go to Bethlehem, and God worked a miracle in that way. He gave a Savior to the world, a bread for eternal life in the city of Bethlehem, which, you may know, means “house of bread.”
There is a yet another way to Bethlehem, the way of the shepherds, who went to Bethlehem receiving direct revelation. They received a vision from God, in which the angels announced the good news: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Such revelations are not frequent happenings. In fact, they are given only to those pure in heart, as it says in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Shepherds came to deep faith through a supernatural, spiritual experience. This, then, is the excellent way to Bethlehem.
Of course, the Magi, the scientist, could cast doubt on the experience of the shepherds, who, in turn, could lessen the intellectual journey of the wise men. Neither the wise men nor the shepherds, however, had any reason to disapprove of the journey of the Holy Family, who were just fulfilling their civic duty: going to be registered and pay their taxes.
In the life of faith, everyone is traveling his way, but what is important is that at the end of the journey all of us find ourselves together in Bethlehem, not at the Dead End of unbelief.
During the season of Advent, we are all invited to travel our personal “road to Bethlehem.” When we arrive at our destination on Christmas Day, we will hopefully be closer to the Lord than when we began the journey.
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Titus 2: 11-15 (page 194) New Testament
Matthew 2: 1-12 (pages 1-2) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6). Prayers are requested for Edward Tatoian, Rose Minassian, Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Jan Mirijanian, Merle Santerian, Alice Charles, Armen Mirakian and Pearl Jamgochian.
NEW COMMUNION PROCEDURE – Before gathering for confession, please allow time for the Choir Members to come down and join us before we begin.
Did you know that when we participate in Soorp Badarak (Divine Liturgy), we are also being invited to a meal (communion) offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As such, we should dress in a manner worthy of that invitation. We ask our faithful to dress appropriately for worship. Please, no very short dresses, shorts or bare shoulders. Thank you.
January is designated FAMILY WORSHIP MONTH! Under Fr. Hakob’s leadership, our Adult Christian Education (ACE) ministry will be sponsoring several learning opportunities in January. On January 19, a Simultaneous Translation of selected sharagans will be presented thus enabling our faithful to appreciate and grasp, not only the beauty of our music, but also the theological depth of the lyrics. At the close of Liturgy on that date, our annual Service of Remembrance and Lighting of Candles, honoring those who passed away this year, will be offered. And on January 26, a Question-and-Answer session will replace Fr. Hakob’s sermon. For more details, see the flyer available in the narthex and the church lobby.
CHURCH SCHOOL GOES TO BADARAK: Our Church School will be observing Family Worship Month by inviting families to participate in the Divine Liturgy together. Formal class instruction will not be offered during the month, but will resume in February.
Home Blessings It is part of the Armenian Church tradition to have our homes blessed regularly and especially during the seasons of Christmas and Easter. Please consider bringing this age-old practice to your home in 2020. Having this short service done in your own home will bless you and create a sense of peacefulness for you and your family. If you would like to partake of this beautiful custom, contact the church office (215-663-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org) and request a home blessing visit from Der Hakob. Please have a piece of bread, dish of salt and glass of water prepared for the blessing service.
THE GOLDEN BOX: As part of our Family Worship Month learning initiatives, Fr. Hakob will conduct a Question-and-Answer session with the faithful during his usual sermon time on January 26. We are invited to submit questions and place them in the Golden Question Box in the narthex during the next few Sundays. This is the perfect opportunity to get answers to those “why-does-the-church” or “why-doesn’t-the-church” faith questions you’ve been wondering about. Be sure to pick up a flyer in the narthex for more information on our other Family Worship Month activities!
REMINDER: According to the Diocesan Bylaws, membership dues are to be paid no later than December 31st each year in order to be a member in “good standing” and to be eligible to vote at the annual assembly. Any monies received after that date will be applied to the new year. For any questions regarding your status, please call the church office.
EMERGENCY CLOSINGS: In an effort to inform parishioners and guests when a Holy Trinity church service or program needs to be canceled or delayed due to inclement weather or other reasons, we request that you check our website (www.holytrinity-pa.org) or facebook page (www.facebook.com/holytrinitypa) for the most accurate information.
HELP WANTED: Jan Mirijanian is looking for someone who can cook and do light house keeping 3 days a week in the South Jersey area. If interested contact him at 856-848-1504 or cell 856-295-3119.
CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)
Sunday Jan 5 Theophany Eve 3:00PM Liturgy, Christmas Pageant and Fellowship
Monday Jan 6 Feast of Theophany 10:30 AM Liturgy
Sunday Jan 12 Blessing of the Water
Saturday Jan 25 Marriage Evening Retreat: RSVP by 1/20/20
2019 Attendance: Plate/Candle Collection:
1 – 69 people $309.00
8 – 122 people $623.00
15 – 66 people $559.00
22 – 81 people $372.00
29 – 76 people $401.00
Weekly Expenses: $6,000.00
NEW IN BOOKSTORE: With pride, we are pleased to announce “Acoustic Armenia,” a CD by a devoted member of the Holy Trinity family, Karinné Andonian. The music of this album is meant to revere the spirit of Armenian music. The Armenian heart has always sung, and here it sings simply and organically, intending to bring a sense of togetherness and home just as it was when it was created generations ago. Available in Bookstore $12.
Using the Pew Book: In order to enrich understanding of the Divine Liturgy, we encourage our faithful to follow along in the large two-part Pew Book. Part One includes the classical Armenian used in the Liturgy; the facing page is the translation in modern Western Armenian. Part Two contains the transliteration of the classical Armenian; the right-hand page has the English translation. This Pew Book includes the prayers of the celebrant usually offered inaudibly. The prayers offered aloud are indicated in boldface type.
THE NICENE CREED/ HAVADAMK – This is the Profession of our Faith which is often sung after the Gospel is read from the altar. Occasionally, it will be recited by the Deacons and/or the Choir. We invite you to affirm your own “Profession of Faith” by reciting along with us. God longs for all of us to express our faith and devotion to Him.
THE KISS OF PEACE: After the gifts of the Eucharist are brought to the Altar Table, the deacon proclaims, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” The person giving the greetings says, Kristos ee mech mer Haydnetsav – Christ is revealed amongst us. The recipient would respond, Orhnial eh Haydnootiunun Kristosee – Blessed is the revelation of Christ.
Anyone who wishes to request any Requiem Services MUST inform the office by 1:30pm Wednesday the week before. If you also want to sponsor the Fellowship Hour you MUST call Jeanette Der Hagopian at 215-672-4188.
Would you like to:
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– sign up for an event online?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, please visit our parish website at www.holytrinity-pa.org
WE ASK THAT EVERYONE KINDLY TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES and all other such electronic devices prior to entering the sanctuary out of respect for the sanctity of our services.