THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
September 29, 2019
Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
Surely, in some way Jesus is looking forward to recent events such as his resurrection and ascension as well as the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD, an event that deeply shaped and influenced the authors of the New Testament, including those of the four Gospels. But with Jesus at the center of all events and time, things tend to be complex and layered, and so this verse also points to the fulfilment of all things. “This generation,” referring not merely to those alive at the time of Christ, but to believers at all times, the generation of the Church, continues until all things are accomplished. In his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Stepanos Siwnetsi writes,
The crown of good news has not yet ripened, but one sees the good things that have been promised with hope as through a mirror. But at the coming of the just judge, when the crown of good news ripens, then one will see clearly and not with hope, just as in winter the fruit of the fig tree is invisible but in summer it is visible to all.
That day and hour only the Father knows. In other words, we are to remove any concern about its date, instead living a life pleasing to God in the present as if he could return at any moment. Consider this a gift. God the Father is allowing us time for repentance before all things are accomplished, before the entire created order is healed and restored, including each one of us to its original nature and harmony as once experienced in the Garden of Eden. St. Cyril of Alexandria writes,
For as humanity is renewed, the whole creation, which had been created for the sake of humanity, is recapitulated and restored.
St. Paul exhorts, “Now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2) So what are we to do? Make sure our lamps are filled with oil in preparation for the marriage feast with our Bridegroom (see Matthew 25:1-13). Be watchful for opportunities to be the light and fragrance of Christ in the world, and be watchful for any attack from the Enemy. From the hymn sung during Առաւօտեան Ժամ on the Feast of Varak, the subject and “sign” being the Cross, we sing,
You gave a sign to those who fear, and a weapon against the enemy. With it, protect those who believe in your holy name.
Who or what is the enemy? Our own selves, desires, addictions, our preference of earthly things over the maker of the earth. Rather than looking beyond ourselves and concerning ourselves first and foremost with eternal things, do we give our attention and priority to that which is immediate or temporal, our bodily senses, wealth and affluence, titles and legacy? In his prayer for Thursday, Hovhannes of Garni writes,
Instead of eternal glory that does not fade away, I loved the transient and the corruptible. Leave me not to my own inclinations.
What about the Cross? Where does it stand in the life of the Church? If the Cross is removed from the Church’s centrality, we risk becoming our own enemy. The Church will become institutionalized and politicized rather than the Body of Christ bringing baptism, salvation, healing, and hope to the world. Without the Cross at the very center of everything we do as the Church – local, diocesan, and global – we risk losing any true encounter with Christ for ourselves and for others seeking salvation in a world that is desperate for hope and love. Thankfully, we have been given this time to repent before all things are reconciled. Thankfully, the Cross has accomplished, continues to accomplish, and will accomplish, and so we live with hope looking forward to the time when, as St. Paul writes to the Romans,
Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:21-24a)
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Galatians 6: 14-18 (page 174) New Testament
Matthew 24: 30-36 (page 25) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Isaiah 65: 22-25 (page 741) Old Testament
“I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116:1-2 NLT). Please pray for Robert Barone, Merle Santerian, Steve Hovnanian, Alice Charles, Armen Mirakian and Pearl Jamgochian for a return to improved health and to feel the presence of God in their lives. Please also keep in your prayers the leaders and well-being of both the United States and Armenia.
NEW COMMUNION PROCEDURE – Before gathering for confession, please allow time for the Choir Members to come down and join us before we begin.
COFFEE HOUR FELLOWSHIP – Thank you to all who brought refreshments to share with our fellow parishioners during the summer. By doing so, you helped ease the burden by the same few having to do most of the work. Going forward, our intention is to provide at least coffee and tea and bagels and condiments each Sunday. Sometimes we may have more items; other times, perhaps not. With that in mind, we appeal to our faithful to become active participants in helping to provide refreshments. If everyone does it occasionally, the table will be full and the burden will not fall to just a few. For those who cannot bring something, we ask that you make a modest offering to the basket on the table. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
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.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD – it’s not too soon to start shopping for great fillers for your shoeboxes. You’ve done it before and you know how it works! More details will be forthcoming. So….On your mark, get ready, start shopping!!!
GIFT AUCTION: We are in need of donations for the Harvest Bazaar Gift Auction and are asking for your help. We will again feature our Raffle ticket items valued at over $100 and our silent auction for special items. Our goal is to obtain new gifts each in value of $100 or more but we are happy to accept gifts of various values that we can combine in our baskets. Gifts can be geared toward younger children like Star Wars, Spiderman, Pokemon, or other trending items for kids. For teenagers (movie theater basket) or adults (golf, tennis, restaurants, massage/beauty or home). Gift baskets and gift certificates are most appreciated. We also will have letters you can take to various businesses to see if they would provide a $20 to $30 gift certificate for free. If you own a business and are willing to donate, please let us know. Wine or liquor are popular items that we can combine with other items. For the special items we would look for large value items (over $200), liquor, jewelry, oriental rugs for home and vacation houses. In addition, if anyone could lend us their beach house for a weekend or week, that would help to generate funds. Cash will also be appreciated to purchase desirable items. Please call or email Cece Garibian at 215-884-9292 or firstname.lastname@example.org OR Tanya Paretchan at 215-947-4394 or email@example.com, for more details. Thank you in advance for all your generosity and support.
2019 Attendance: Plate/Candle Collection:
25 – 48 people $ 289.00
1 – 37 people $234.00
8 – 82 people $490.00
15- 82 people $488.00
22 – 71 people $285.00
Weekly Expenses: $6,000.00
CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)
Saturday September 28th – Fall Into Philly Kef @ Holy Trinity
Sunday October 6th – Church School Communion and Commitment Service
Sunday October 6th – Armenian Inter-Communal Cultural Program Armenian Martyrs Church @ 3 pm
Sunday October 13th – Reception with our Primate, His Grace, Bishop Daniel Findikyan – 2 pm (See flyer – RSVP required)
October 25, 26 & 27: Harvest Bazaar
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.
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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.