THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
September 13, 2020
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The Cross in the Armenian Church
The Cross is the central symbol for Christians, not only as the instrument for the salvation of the world by the crucified Christ, but also as the constant witness of sacrificial love, the core of Christian life.
It was Hovhan Odznetsi (John of Odzoon), an eighth-century Armenian Catholicos, who declared the Cross to be the symbol of the Armenian Church, stressing its significance in opposition to the local grassroots movement which opposed the Cross and all else pertaining to ritual, organization, and the visible Church. This episode in our history is evidence that Armenian Christians have always possessed a conviction and understanding of human suffering and the Cross of Jesus Christ. As a result, we profusely adorn our bodies, homes, and church buildings with crosses. They adorn church vestments. It crowns the church dome. The floor plan of traditional Armenian church buildings is ultimately in the shape of a cross. We imprint ourselves with the Cross on many occasions: whenever the Holy Trinity is invoked, before and after prayers, when entering a church, when passing in front of the altar, and when receiving a blessing from the priest during liturgical services. On certain feast days, such as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we celebrate the Antasdan service, which while blessing the four compass points (north, south, east, west), we bless the entire world in the form of a cross.
Styles of the Armenian cross vary, but they generally feature motifs of life such as budded beams, rays of light, or wheat and grapes growing out from its base. Unique to the Armenian tradition are Khachkars, Armenian crosses carved into stone featuring ornate floral designs and intricately interwoven lines conveying themes of eternity and resurrection, bringing dead stone to vivid life, just as the death of Jesus Christ redeems all suffering through his grace and life-giving presence. Jesus transformed the Cross, at one time a symbol of torture and execution into a symbol of faith, salvation, and victory over death. Armenian khachkars uniquely celebrate and express that reality. By way of the Cross, the utterly impossible and unthinkable happened and does happen: life out of death.
The Cross tells us that we are loved even at our worst. But this doesn’t mean we have license to live any way we want. The Cross demands of us. It requires that we follow Jesus and embrace all that the Cross accomplished. It means to love sacrificially, which is painful and selfless, but Christ-like and salvific. In the words of Jesus:
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:34-36)
By Dn. Eric Vozzy
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Galatians 6: 14-18 (page 174) New Testament
John 3: 13-21 (page 86) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Isaiah 49: 13-23 (page 726) Old Testament
“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 Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles & Theodora Mirakian.
Today’s basil (rahan) is donated by Jeanette Der Hagopian and Family in memory of their beloved father and grandfather, Deran Chopoorian.
UPCOMING ZOOM PROGRAMS presented by Adult Christian Education (ACE)
“Walking Through the Gospel of Mark” begins on Tuesdays, September 29 through
November 17 (10:30-11:30 am), led by our Pastoral Intern, Dn. Armen Terjimanian
The Bible in the Badarak: God’s Word in the Hymns, led by Dn. Albert Keshgegian,
Thursday, September 24, 7:00-8:00 pm.
Register for any of these programs by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the ZOOM link.
CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)
Sunday 9/13: First Day of Church School
Sunday 9/20: Class of 2020 Church School Graduates Ceremony