Not a dry eye – 20 years later

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Not a dry eye – 20 years later
Fr  Vazken
Fr Vazken | 3 Comments |
I’ve heard that expression “Not a dry eye in the house” in reference to a performance or speech well delivered. But I thought it was a cliche and an over-exageration of terms. But it came to pass yesterday at the 20th Anniversary of the Armenian Earthquake.At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy and just before Holy Communion, we stopped the service, precisely 20 years to the minute – 11:41AM when a devastating earthquake hit Northern Armenia and killed 25,000+ people.The memories are vivid in my mind. And apparently, so too in the minds and hearts of all our parishioners. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we began our service. With our soloist, Mariam Abrahamian’s powerful, yet soul stirring rendition of Naregatzi’s lament. Followed by two new songs composed and performed by Gor Mkhitarian. I don’t know – I know our church on the corner is magical, but I keep getting these reminders that shock me. Like you could feel the Presence and you could feel the swaying emotions as these songs were sung. And the final rendition of Hayr Mer (the Lord’s Prayer) to guitar music… where else could this magic have taken place?I know there were dinner dances and ‘Christmas’ parties that were beckoning our people (and us) but for my part – I think we honored the past and truly gave a tribute to the present in this short memorial. Thanks to all of you who made this day a special one.

More to come…

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Anush  Avejic
Anush Avejic December 08, 2008It was a very emotional service… First hearing the power in Mariam Abrahamian’s voice…singing this beautiful haunting melody. Though we remembered our past, it was a testament that we are still alive and strong! Then Gor’s songs. I was moved to tears by the words of his beautifully written songs. So heartfelt, so sincere. I looked over from where I was sitting and there was one of our little medz mairig’s….keeping beat to the music with her being. Like you said in your introduction, the language of music transcends boundaries. We were all ages, all different kinds of “hyes”, and it didn’t matter. The music bound us to our people….and to our church.I can’t wait til Gor’s concert. We just heard a preview of his new music yesterday….I’m anxiously waiting for the new CD.Thank you for organizing this beautiful service in a way that only our church would. In humilty and in memorium of our loss, but in encouragement of our present and our future.
Suzie
Suzie December 09, 2008
I second the reference to ‘not a dry eye in the house’. Sunday’s special remembrance service was very moving and I found myself wiping away tears. Anush, I agree – Gor’s words and singing was truly heartfelt and sincere – hence bringing us to tears. They were both tears of sorrow for our losses in the past as well as tears of joy from being lifted from that devastation and continuing to build a life filled with the power of hope and love.
Fr  Vazken
Fr Vazken December 09, 2008
You know – in preparing for the Christmas SPIRIT concert I’ve been thinking a lot about change in our Church.Obviously, the Gor music is pretty radical change when you think of the Armenian Church, or any ‘traditional’ church for that matter. Anush – your comments about the mayrigs – made me think about all of the changes and differences that I’ve tried to bring into the Armenian Church during my years as a priest. I never thought of it until now – but its always been that older generation who got it. Maybe its the years, maybe its the futility that they see in preserving something that doesn’t speak to the people. But, among the younger ones there is this false sense of clinging to something that makes for a warm security blanket. (Yes, I saw Charlie Brown’s Christmas last night… poor Linus, he needs all the security he can get with that dew of his.) And they fight for that security which gets them through the years, but in the end, there’s nothing in it.This weekend we’re in for a treat – because Mariam Matossian arrives and will be singing at our church (and of course, at the concert). She’s going to be leading a special class for our Sunday School students this Sunday and it should be interesting because we’ll be uniting the past tradition with the more radical change.Suzie, I believe you told me about one of our visitors this Sunday who mentioned that our church really had that unique balance of old and new, or traditional and contemporary. That’s what its all about, right? I mean, none of us are for abandoning our traditional worship and our Badarak, BUT on the other hand, we know that those are not the END we serve. I think that perspective – that traditions are the means, and Jesus is the end – has been our working platform. And it shows in every project we do.

On top of it all – did you catch this week’s Gospel passage? It was the story of the Great Banquet. As I was sitting through Gor’s playing and Mariam’s singing and subsequently the hokehankist – I had the great banquet in mind. This is not Burger King – you can’t “have it your way!” We are a church that is led by the Holy Spirit and the Pastor – the Parish Priest – is ORDAINED by the mark of the Holy Spirit. When he points the church in a particular direction, its because of his prayer life, his knowledge of the communities and the needs of the parishioners. The Holy Spirit guides the pastor to leadership. And as the Pastor, this direction that we have steered our ship on – I will tell you in no uncertain terms – is the path and direction for the Armenian Church today. Because its the same path we’ve been on through the centuries. This is the orthodox path.

Critics point to orthodoxy as something ancient and connected to the fathers of the church. They forget that those fathers were humans guided by the same Spirit! The Orthodox Church is alive today, not just in some history book.

The banquet passage is too close to my heart to let pass by. I’m going to use it as the theme for tomorrow’s podcast and will return to it next Sunday at church (since this past week, we had a musical sermon). I keep thinking about Nersess Shnorhali or Krikor Naregatzi. We love their works today – I wonder how they were received in their time? They were people like you and I, certainly with a gift for touching the soul with their words and tunes – a gift which Gor has. And their message was the same from the time of Christ.

Looking forward to a great couple of weeks of Christmas cheer.

atthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, 22:3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. 22:4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ 22:5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 22:6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 22:7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 22:8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 22:9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ 22:10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 22:11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 22:12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 22:13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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Vazken Movsesian

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