Fifth Sunday of Advent

Sunday Messenger

December 23, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Advent

A Very Merry Christmas to One and All

Before Others or Before God?

We go to Church, we’re involved, we fast during Great Lent. During Badarak we confess our sins, we bow down to the ground, we even beat our chests when we say “Վա՛յ ինձ, վայ ինձ, վայ ինձ”. Throughout our liturgical services, we sing the prayer of the tax collector, “Lord, have mercy” (Der voghormya) over and over. In fact, it is his prayer that serves as the foundation of the refrain “Lord have mercy” that permeates our liturgical and personal prayer.

But before whom do we do these things? The Pharisee stood before other people around him, and comparing himself with them, he was able to pridefully read his spiritual resume. In contrast, the tax collector bowed down before a holy and righteous God, not before other people, and was therefore compelled to humbly utter the words, “Lord, have mercy” (Տէր ողորմեայ). When we do the same, we can’t help but to see the urgency of our situation and our humble dependence on God for the cure.

The point is not to criticize pious activity, customs, rituals, and good works as such. They are good and even essential. They are a response to God, acts of worship born out of our faith. But without a heart of true repentance, one of humility, these things will only lead to judgment of others, pride, and arrogance. The downfall of the Pharisee is that his heart was in the wrong place. Instead of God, he used other people as his measure of spiritual success. The Tax Collector, on the other hand, like St. Gregory of Narek, contrasted his ailing and infirmed soul with the holiness of God.

In one of his sermons, Archbishop Norayr Bogharian (1904-1996) from Jerusalem encourages us to examine our own sins rather than point out the sins of others:

Everyone must be his own judge…Let us examine ourselves well; let us turn on our ourselves – on our own souls – that magnifying glass through which we view the transgressions of others, and we will see the sooty footprints of Satan are revealed in our soul’s dark corners…Instead of the Pharisee’s pride, let us clothe ourselves in the tax collector’s humility. (trans. Roberta Ervine)

A story from one of the Desert Fathers, a saying from an early Christian monk helps us understand humility and how we should view ourselves in comparison to others:

A hermit was asked, ‘What is humility?’ He answered, ‘Humility is a great work, and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labour, and believe yourself a sinner, and make yourself the servant of all.’ A brother said, ‘What does it mean, to be the servant of all?’ He answered, ‘To be the servant of all is not to look at the sins of others, always to look at your own sins, and to pray to God without ceasing.’ (trans. Benedicta Ward)

God sees our heart, so it’s a good idea to be as honest as possible with him when we pray. And when we are honest with who we really are in his sight, can we really attempt to impress him by reading off our accomplishments, bragging about how we are better than others? Or will we, like the tax collector, feebly bow before our Creator, our Great Physician, barely able to utter the words, “Der voghormya, Der voghormya, Der voghormya.”

By Dn. Eric Vozzy


Hebrews 4: 16-5:10 (page 198) New Testament
Luke 18: 9-14 (page 74) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Isaiah 40: 18-31 (page 716) Old Testament

REQUIEM SERVICES: Karasoonk (40th Day memorial Service) today will be for:

– BOGHOS KERDANIAN on the 40th Day of His eternal life requested by Silva Hovhannesian and Family, Noushig & Manouk Hovhannesian, Marina & Milan Zlatnicky & Family.

Hokehankist today will be for:

EVELINA KHALATYAN requested by the Balasanyan Family.

ALTAR FLOWERS: are donated today by Silva Hovhannesian and Family, Noushig & Manouk Hovhannesian, Marina & Milan Zlatnicky & Family in loving memory of BOGHOS KERDANIAN on the 40th Day of His eternal life.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” (Romans 15:30) Prayers are requested for Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, Annabelle Alexanian, Alice Charles, Armenoui Aznavuryan and Pearl Jamgochian for a return to better health and to feel the presence of God in their lives. Pray for our country and her leaders so that peace and kindness will prevail; for our children in their schools – that they may continue their education in a safe environment. As we approach a new year, pray that the “goodwill toward men” that is shown during the Christmas season will carry over into 2019 and beyond.

Coffee Hour: is sponsored today by the Aghazarian Family in loving memory of ARAM AVEDIS AGHAZARIAN (1st Anniversary of His eternal life). All are welcome.

COFFEE HOUR: This year we are looking for individuals or families, to run a Coffee Hour each Sunday. (Those who have been running it, are overloaded with doing more than one job on Sundays.) There are sign-up sheets for the next 4 month of Sundays. Anyone wishing to sponsor a special Coffee Hour (Birthday, Anniversary, 40 Days or more, etc.) other than the normal Coffee Hour must contact Merle Santerian 215-205-1507, to make arrangements 2 weeks ahead of time. Under the new scheduling, if a Sunday has no one signed up on the Board, to run the Coffee Hour, there will be no Coffee Hour that Sunday. So, please volunteer and let’s fill all the Sundays in on the Schedule. It is not that involved, and Merle will explain what you have to do to run one. Any questions just see her on any Sunday or call her at the above phone number. Thanks, for your cooperation! We know how much everyone enjoys the Fellowship Hour and we would like to keep it going.

SAVE THE DATE: “The Ladies of Holy Trinity invite you to an Afternoon Holiday Tea Featuring an Art and Faith Talk Contemplating the New Year by Leslie Movsesian, artist and member of the Adult Christian Education team. Let’s take time to think thoughtfully about where we were, where we are and where we are going as the New Year approaches. DATE: Saturday, December 29th, 2018 TIME: 2PM – 4PM Location: Holy Trinity Armenian Church “Tea Room” RSVP: *Bring an afternoon treat to share!”

We Need Your Help! Imagine children and teens sitting in a classroom wearing coats and scarves because they have NO HEAT. That’s the reality for the 130 children and teens who attend the Sunday school of Soorp Asdvadzadzin in Vardenis, Armenia. The school, which serves an impoverished region, may need to close its doors in the coming months. As it is, their devoted pastor has done his utmost out of his own funds to see that they get to the church center and have a pleasing room to gather. For $6800, a permanent heating system can be installed. The Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) has asked Sunday schools across the Diocese for help. During this holy Advent and Christmas season, when so much is spend on so many who have everything, please think of those who are struggling and give generously! Checks, payable to Holy Trinity Church School, can be given to Merle Santerian or Nancy Basmajian. (Please write “Vardenis” on the memo line. We thank you for your kindness and your open heart!)

This Sunday the Church School will be doing a special collection for this School. Our goal is to raise $2,000.00 and we’re almost there. It would be most appreciated if our parishioners who have not already given could help us raise the $500 needed to meet our goal. Thank you!

January is designated FAMILY WORSHIP MONTH!
Under Fr. Hakob’s leadership, our Church School and our Adult Christian Education ministry have partnered to plan a month of educational opportunities for children and adults designed to enrich understanding of the faith. The sacred space of our sanctuary will become a classroom, and EVERYONE is invited! Each Sunday will provide a different experience – we’ll hear a translation of selected sharagans, receive a guided “tour” of the sanctuary, and see the Badarak interrupted with commentary that promises to deepen our knowledge of the Liturgy. You won’t want to miss this! You can pick up a flyer in the narthex or the lobby.

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.

ROAD CLOSURE: Please be advised that beginning on Monday, January 7, 2019, there will be no access to church by way of the intersection at Tookany Creek Parkway and Ashmead Road as the long-awaited reconstruction of the bridge will commence. This closure will require many from Montgomery and Bucks Counties to find an alternate route to church. We have not been advised if detour signs will be put up to help in this regard, nor do we know how long this project will take. Please allow extra time to reach church because of this disruption.

FAR UPDATE: Ayo! has launched its Chocolate Bank Project for 2018. This amazing initiative collects and then delivers chocolates and other Christmas sweets to children who live in poverty. This year the Ayo! and FAR team plans to visit daycares in 14 villages — some of which have the coldest conditions in Armenia — to bring gifts of chocolate and other sweets, and to hold a celebration for children in need. Ayo! is also raising money to provide selected daycares with new bedding, including warm blankets and pillows, which will help them through the brutal winter. While the daycares generally have appropriate conditions for the children, they have a vital and urgent need for new bedding. Ayo! will be collecting chocolates, candies and cookies at FAR’s Yerevan until December 25th. Donations online will be collected until January 6th. To read more, go to: support this year’s Chocolate Bank … and More, go to:

> Non-Disabled Persons parking spaces are designated with white lines.
> Disabled Persons Parking spaces are designated with blue lines and are reserved for vehicles with a State-authorized disability placard or license plate.
> No parking is allowed in the driveway nearest to the kitchen door.
THANK YOU for your cooperation!

2018 Attendance: Plate/Candle Collection:

4 – 123 people $660.00
11- 80 people $392.00
18 -169 people $792.00
25 – 70 people $463.00
2 – 68 people $400.00
9 – 75 people $547.00

Weekly Expenses: $6,000.00

CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)

Saturday Dec 29 Holiday Tea 2:00 pm
Sunday Dec 30 Pomegranate Sunday

Saturday Jan 5 Theophany Eve and Fellowship
Sunday Jan 6 Feast of Theophany / Blessing of Water/ Christmas Pageant
Sunday Jan 13 Simultaneous Translation of Selected Hymns Day of Remembrance
Sunday Jan 20 Tour of Sanctuary with Fr. Hakob
Sunday Jan 27 Instructed Liturgy

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 recited every Sunday moments after the Gospel is read from the altar. Sometimes it is sung, but more often it is 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 Merle Santerian at 215-947-3777.

Would you like to:
– receive this Bulletin on Friday via email?
– request a Hokehankist, house blessing or hall rental information?
– find in-depth information on our faith, our parish and our activities?
– sign up for an event online?
– If the answer to any of these questions is YES, please visit our parish website at

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.