Photos courtesy of Violet Dagdigian, Kelly Janian & Greg Afarian
On Saturday and Sunday, January 5 & 6, Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Merrimack Valley celebrated with great joy and ceremony the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, presided over by our Pastor, Rev. Father Stephan Baljian.
On Saturday evening, following the Jashoo and Vesper prayer services, our Sunday School students read the Old Testament scripture readings for the Jrakalooyts or Vigil service. They also participated in the Vigil Divine Liturgy.
Following the services, the entire congregation, led by Der Stephan and the altar servers processed downstairs to Jaffarian Hall, where a beautiful table had been set for the traditional Christmas home blessing service. Because Saint Gregory Church is our spiritual home, this beautiful ceremony invokes God's blessings over our church and over our church family throughout the new year. After this, a special blessing was said over the new set of vestments given by our community as a gift for Der Hayr's 10 year ordination anniversary.
On Sunday morning, Der Hayr premiered these new vestments to the awe and satisfaction of all. The church was full and the church choir robust in sound as the solemn Divine Liturgy was offered on behalf of all the faithful. In his special Christmas message, Der Hayr (using a story about his recent experience at a musical event) reminded everyone that the birth and revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ were not just happenstance, or even a touching story, but rather they were part of God's pre-ordained plan for the salvation of mankind. The very act of God's humbling himself in order to be born as a human being was an act of compassion and voluntary suffering for the sake of all human beings and therefore has the power to comfort us in our own sorrows and set us free from captivity to sin and death.
Following the Divine Liturgy, the Blessing of Water (or churorhnek) service took place commemorating the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. This year's Godfather of the Holy Cross was Richie Shahtanian, son of Mr. & Mrs. P. Richard Shahtanian, Esq. Our sincerest congratulations go to the Shahtanian and Annaian families.
At the conclusion of the services, our Sunday/Armenian School students presented their annual Christmas pageant, under the capable leadership of school principal Mrs. Sossy Jeknavorian.
A festive spread of delicious foods and holiday treats awaited in Jaffarian Hall, where amidst a warm and celebratory atmosphere, we had our annual Christmas party, complete with a visit from Gaghant Baba (St. Nicholas) and presents for all the children.