Holy Week – A service for the “Rest of Us”

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This Holy Week has had its share of blessings in my life. Its usually a VERY hectic time of year for any priest, and compounding it all, we got through another podcast (#43!) and a couple of services that really reach out to a different group of people. Just like Apple’s introduction of Macintosh as the computer for the “rest of us” last night we had a service that was geared to the people who are usually unnoticed by the Armenian Church.

Tuesday evening we had the office of the “10 Virgins.” It actually rained that evening (amazing for Southern California) and some of the little girls who had signed up to participate as one of the “maidens” didn’t make it to church. So, we stood at the door, and offered a ‘spot’ to any of the people coming in. A group of young people, all with various hearing impediments, some completely deaf, entered the church and we motioned to them to wear a robe and be part of the service. Another girl with Down Syndrome, also participated. We got through the service – the Archbishop in attendance referred to them as the “wise maidens” (compare with the story in Matthew 25). The beauty of the evening was the fact that the service flowed – not by our plans but by God’s plans. We had a new group of people that became part of the worship community. I speak about this in detail (along with a humorous incident) in this week’s podcast.

Next – last night, Holy Wednesday, is traditionally an “off” day – in that there are no unique Holy Week services. A few years back I gave our kids an opportunity to write the service for Holy Wednesday. Considering that the orthodox faith we confess is dynamic, the writings of these children are the reflect of the Faith today. We’ve been doing these “youth services” for several years now. Last night we did one dedicated to the “Eve of the Last Supper.”

The service was billed as “English Worship Service” but much more than that, it was the Divine Liturgy from the earliest times. It had an upbeat flavor to it. At the end, people whose first language was not English (but Armenian) were genuinely moved.

I’ve always maintained, and last night it was apparent, the so called “Language Issue” is really not an issue at all. When the Liturgy reflects the Love of God, there is no issue that can keep you away from it.

Many people asked for copies of the Liturgy, here it is. In return, keep us in your prayers throughout Holy Week and always. (A formatted copy is available from our church)

BLESSED IS THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Priest: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Deacon: In peace let us pray to the Lord.

Priest: Lord have mercy upon us. I confess before God and before the Holy Mother of God and before all the saints and before you, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, all the sins that I have committed; for I have sinned in thought, word and deed and by all the sins that humans commit. I have sinned and I ask that you pray with me asking God to grant me forgiveness.

People: May God, the almighty have mercy upon you and grant you forgiveness of all your transgressions of the past and the present, and may He deliver you from those that are to come and confirm you in good works and give you rest in the life to come. Remember us in your prayers as you celebrate this Holy Sacrifice.

Priest: You shall be remembered before the Immortal Lamb of God, Christ.

Psalm 100

Deacon: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.

People: Worship the LORD with gladness; come into His presence with singing.

Deacon: Know that the LORD is God. It is He that made us, and we are His;

People: We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Deacon: Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.

People: Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Deacon: For the LORD is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.

People: Glory to the Father, to the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Deacon: Now and always and to the end of the ages. Amen.

Music ~ “Hrashkner” – “Miracles” (Gor Mkhitarian)

Presentation of the Gifts

The BREAD is brought to the priest saying:

Presenter: In peace let us pray to the Lord. Receive, save and have mercy.

Priest: Blessing and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the end of the ages. Amen.

May we be reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ is seated on the throne not made with hands. He accepted the death of the cross for us. Bless, praise and exalt Him forever.

The WINE is brought to the priest saying:

Presenter: In peace let us pray to the Lord. Receive, save and have mercy.

Priest: Blessing and glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the end of the ages. Amen.

May we be reminded that our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is our Redeemer; through the fountain of His blood flowing from His side all creatures have been renewed and made immortal. Bless, praise and exalt Him forever.

O Lord our God, you sent our Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly bread, the food of the whole world, to be savior and redeemer and to bless and to sanctify us.

† Bless now, O Lord, this presentation. Receive this upon Your heavenly Altar.

Be mindful both of those who offer it and of those for whom it is offered and keep us without condemnation in the priestly ministry of Your divine mysteries.

† The Holy Spirit shall come upon You and the Power of the Most High shall overshadow You.

The priest raises the holy Gospel Book and says,

Priest: Wisdom. Let us be attentive.

People: Come, let us worship Christ. Save us, O Son of God who rose from the dead, to You we sing: Alleluia.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Let us sing,

All: Soorp Asdvadz, soorp yev huzor, soorp yev anmah, vor haryar ee merelotz, voghormia mez. (3X)

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, who was raised from the dead, have mercy on us (3X).

Deacon: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Priest: Blessed are You on the throne of glory of Your kingdom, seated upon the Cherubim, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

New Testament Reading – Epistle

People: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Priest: Peace be with you.

People: And with your spirit.

Deacon: Let us be attentive.

Reading from the Holy Gospel

Sermon

All: Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Deacon: Now that we have been nourished through the Holy Scriptures, let us profess our faith in unison…

People: We believe in the all holy Trinity, the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, in the annunciation of Gabriel, in the nativity of Christ, in his baptism, in his passion, in his crucifixion, in his burial, his resurrection, his ascension as God, his sitting at the right hand of the Father and is awesome and glorious second coming, we confess and believe.

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Petitions

Let us ask that the Lord tend to our needs in His mercy.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For the peace of God and the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For all orthodox bishop and priests, for our Catholicos Karekin, the Primate Hovnan and my spiritual father, Vatche, for our priest and all those in God’s service, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For our country and the government of the United States of America, for the president, senators and representatives, and all those in public service. For the government of Armenia and Artzakh, for peace, tranquility and economic stability, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For our parish, the St. Peter Armenian Church Youth Ministries’ Center, for the mission In His Shoes, for the priests, deacons, choir members, participants and all those who make a difference in the service of love, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons. For travelers by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives, and for their salvation. For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and distress, let us pray to the Lord.

People: Lord, have mercy.

At this Holy Week of Passion each member of the congregation may read one of the verse and we invite everyone to nail their living prayer on the cross

Priest: As we prepare to receive the life giving and liberating Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, let us be attentive to His Passion, Crucifixion and Burial, and remember that He did so, in our place, so that we might live for eternity.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was condemned to die. He stood in our place. He was condemned and we continue to condemn him each time we fail to love.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was falsely tried. He stood silent against his accusers, knowing that his power came from above. His confidence makes us remember our need to trust in the Lord.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was beaten and tortured. God did not exempt His only begotten Son from the ravages of human brutality. He was kicked and punched just as we kick and punch him when we foster hatred and cruelty in our hearts for our fellow human being.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was spat upon. His own creation had rejected him and humiliated him. He was tormented and dishonored, but the real humiliation is ours when we continue to live with anger and remain unforgiving of others.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus picked up his cross. He did not reject it but accepted it. He took it for us, carried it and climbed it. Let us remember our own crosses and to find the strength to carry them through our most difficult times.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was assisted by Simon. There are Simons around us to help us in our troubles. May we become the Simons to help the Jesuses on the road of life – the poor and the suffering all around us.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was stripped naked. They tried to take his pride away, but in humility he showed us his divinity. Let us see his divinity in the face of all and never allow foolish pride to dictate our lives.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was nailed to the cross. The same hands that had formed humanity out of the earth, were now being nailed to the cross by his creation. Let us feel the pain of those nails every time we humiliate or torture God by forgetting our duty to love.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus gave his life on the cross. Between two criminals he was sentenced and crucified. Let us remember to look to him with the confession of the robber and ask that he remember us on the great day when he comes in his kingdom.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Congregant: Let us be mindful that Jesus was buried in a tomb. His body was precious and holy. His body was taken off of the cross and kept with hope in the hearts of those who loved him. Let us open our hearts to accept his body and essence in our darkest and deepest tombs.

People: Hear us and have mercy.

Music ~ “Orhnootiun” = “Blessing” (Gor Mkhitarian)

Priest: Lord, our God, grant to us and to those who pray with us Your abundant mercy. For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

Peace be with you all.

People: And with your spirit.

Deacon: Let us profess our love for one another that in one mind and in one spirit we gather together today as a family of Christ’s love.

The Kiss of Peace

Priest: Greet one another with a holy kiss: Christ is revealed among us!

People:

Krisdos i mech mer haydnetzav

Vor enn asdvadz asd bazmetzav

Khaghaghootyan tzayn hunchetzav

Soorp voghchoyni hraman duvav

Yegeghetzis mi antzun yeghev

Hampoyrs hot lurman duvav

Tushnamootiunun heratzav

Ser hunthanoor spretzav

Art bashdonyayk bartzyal uztzayn

Dook zorhnootiun i mi peran

Miasnagan Asdvadzootyan

Voroom srovpekn en srpapan

Christ has been revealed among us;

He Who Is, God, is her seated.

The voice of peace has resounded;

Holy greeting is commanded.

This Church has now become one soul,

The kiss is given for a full bond.

The enmity has been removed;

And love is spread over us all.

Now, ministers, raise your voices,

And give blessings with one accord

To the God consubstantial,

While angels sing: “Holy, Holy, Holy…”

Deacon: Let us stand well. Let us stand in awe. Let us be attentive, that we may present the holy offering in peace.

People: Mercy and peace, a sacrifice of praise.

Priest: † The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.

People: And with your spirit.

Priest: Let us lift up our hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

People: It is proper and right.

Priest: We join the chorus of angels, singing the victory hymn, proclaiming, crying out, and saying:

People: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabbath, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna to God in the highest.

Priest: O Lord, You so loved Your world that You gave Your only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. He came and fulfilled the divine plan for us. On the night when He gave Himself up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy, pure, and blameless hands, gave thanks, blessed, sanctified, broke and gave it to His holy disciples, saying:

Take, eat, THIS IS MY BODY, which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, blessed it, drank, and gave it to His holy disciples saying:

Drink of it all of you; THIS IS MY BLOOD of the new Covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: Once again we offer to You this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray, and entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented.

† And make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ.

Deacon (in a low voice): Amen.

Priest: † And that which is in this cup the precious Blood of Your Christ.

Deacon (in a low voice): Amen.

Priest: † Changing the bread and wine into the actual Body and Blood of Your Christ, by Your Holy Spirit.

Deacon (in a low voice): Amen. Amen. Amen.

Priest: So that the Holy Eucharist may be to us for vigilance of soul, forgiveness of sins, communion of Your Holy Spirit, fulfillment of the kingdom of heaven, make us worthy with confidence and without fear of condemnation, to dare call You, the heavenly God, Father, and to say:

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Priest: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen.

Priest: Peace be with all.

People: And with your spirit.

Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

People: To You, O Lord.

Priest: The holy Gifts for the holy people of God.

People: One is Holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the highest. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Priest (After the fraction of the sacred Bread): The Lamb of God is broken and distributed; broken but not divided. He is forever eaten yet is never consumed, but He sanctifies those who partake of Him.

Then the priest places a portion of the sacred Bread in the Cup saying:

The fullness of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Communion Prayers are recited by those prepared to receive the holy Mysteries.

People: I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. Amen.

In Your love, Lord, cleanse my soul and save me.

Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not these holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body and the pledge of the future life and kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation.

Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not reveal Your mystery to Your adversaries. Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your kingdom.

The priest proceeds to receive Holy Communion.

Priest: I approach Christ, our immortal King and God.

The precious and most holy Body and the precious and most holy Blood of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is given to me Vazken the priest, for the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life.

This has touched my lips, taking away my transgressions and cleansing my sins.

Deacon: Approach with the fear of God, faith, and love.

As the congregations comes forward to receive the Holy Communion, the priest will say,

Receive the Body and Blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Music “Or” – “The Day,” (Gor Mkhitarian)

Priest: Save, O God, Your people and bless Your inheritance.

People: We have seen the true light; we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, for the Trinity has saved us.

Priest: Blessed is our God. Always, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen. Let our mouths be filled with Your praise, Lord, that we may sing of Your glory. You have made us worthy to partake of Your holy mysteries. Keep us in Your holiness, that all the day long we may meditate upon Your righteousness. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Priest: Christ our God, You are the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. You have fulfilled all the dispensation of the Father. Fill our hearts with joy and gladness always.

Deacon: By the holy cross let us ask the Lord, that he may deliver us from sins and may save us by the grace of His mercy. Almighty Lord our God, save and have mercy.

Priest: Bless and Protect your people under the shadow of Your holy and precious cross, in peace. Deliver them from enemies visible and invisible. Allow us to Glorify You always, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

People: Amen

Orhnestzitz uzDer hamenayn djam

Hamenayn djam, orhnootiun nora ee paran im

I will bless the Lord at all times;

at all times His praise Shall be in my mouth.

Priest: Be blessed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Depart in peace and may the Lord Jesus be with you always.

People: Amen.

St. Peter Armenian Church

& Youth Ministries’ Center

632 W. Stocker St. * Glendale, CA 91202

Fr. Vazken Movsesian, Parish Priest

08 April 2009

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