On the evening of February 13, 2019, worshippers gathered at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral for a unique service offering prayers in anticipation of the Feast of the Lord’s Presentation to the Temple.
In a homily, Diocesan Primate the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan related the heartwarming story told in Luke’s gospel, of how Joseph and Mary brought the newborn Christ to the Jerusalem Temple for the first time. When the elderly Simeon saw the infant Jesus, he held the child in his arms and thanked God for giving him, in his advanced age, this glimpse of the world’s salvation.
“He saw salvation in the most unusual of places: in the person of a 40-day-old child,” the Primate said. “Salvation for us is not an idea, or a philosophy, or even a hope. Salvation is a person—and that person is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.”
Noting the words of Jesus—“I am the Light of the world: he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12)—Fr. Findikyan cautioned that “many people out in the world—indeed, many of us—are not living a life enlightened by the Light of Jesus. We’re stumbling around in darkness.”
“But God wants us to embrace the Light of salvation—like Simeon did,” he said. “Today. Now. That’s why the Armenian Church makes a big deal out of this feast day.”
With those words, he was led in a procession of a dozen clergymen and deacons out to the cathedral plaza, where a bonfire was lit, in accordance with a unique Armenian custom, to illuminate the chilly February evening. A few hardy souls among the worshippers attempted to vault over the fire in keeping with the customary practice of the ceremony.
A reception followed in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium. The feast of the Presentation itself—Dyarnuntarach in Armenian—was marked on February 14 with the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral, celebrated by Diocesan Vicar Fr. Simeon Odabashian.
Click here to view photos by photographer Albin Lohr-Jones.