On January 6, 2020, less than a week into a new decade, the Armenian Church of America welcomed the birth of Christ with an “Armenian Christmas” Divine Liturgy at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral.
Celebrating the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Jesus Christ for the first time since his elevation to the episcopal rank, Bishop Daniel Findikyan led an inspiring badarak before a crowded sanctuary and thousands of viewers watching an online broadcast.
In his sermon, the Primate spoke on the theme of darkness and light. He began by invoking the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, and you who dwell in the world and in the shadow of death, light has shown on you” (Isaiah 9:2).”
“Those words capture the heart of today’s Christmas celebration,” Bishop Daniel said.
A Sun That Never Sets
He went on to describe how the surrounding world—whether in the news headlines or in one’s personal life—is still a place of where people walk in darkness much of the time.
“But,” he added, “the light has shown on us: the light of that manger 2,000 years ago. The Light of Jesus Christ.”
Affirming that God has “come into this world and illuminated it permanently, and irreversibly,” he compared Christ to “a divine sun that never sets, never weakens; that only gives power—and love, joy and hope.” That light is there, waiting for us to accept it, he said.
On Christmas day, “the church and the Lord call on us to open our eyes, and open our hearts, to the Light of God.”
Bishop Daniel delivered his Armenian Christmas homily with passion and conviction, in English and Armenian. To conclude, he invited to the altar the Rev. Fr. Davit Karamyan, whom the Primate formally introduced to the public as the new Vicar of St. Vartan Cathedral. In an affecting moment, Bishop Daniel honored Fr. Karamyan by presenting him with a pectoral cross.
Gregory Badishkanian served as godfather for the churorhnek (Blessing of Water) ceremony, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus by the hand of John the Baptist.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Diocese broadcast the Armenian Christmas liturgy over the Internet. The live broadcast with a running narration was watched by thousands on YouTube and Facebook. Even more viewers have tuned in to the recorded program in the days that followed.
(Click here to watch the recorded program.)
The sacred music of the Divine Liturgy was rendered beautifully throughout the service by the St. Vartan Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian. Accompanying on the organ was Florence Avakian.
Following services on January 6, a traditional home blessing and Christmas reception were held in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.
An Armenian Christmas Eve service was held on the evening of January 5. The celebrant was Fr. Davit Karamyan.
Parishes across the Eastern Diocese also held Christmas services on Monday, January 6.
Click here to view photos of the Armenian Christmas liturgy by Albin Lohr-Jones.