Etchmiadzin for All

Armodoxy for Today: Etchmiadin for All

In a world that is plagued with war, disease, poverty, intolerance and indifference, the feast of Holy Etchmiadzin may seem obsolete and/or archaic. What is all this talk about Holy Etchmiadzin when the news is shouting out horror and evil?

The Church steers us to the answer in the epistle reading of the day, from Hebrews chapter 9. Here we read about structures, about altars and tabernacles. In the Armenian Church we read this in the context of the new covenant and therefore state the invitation in the hymn of Holy Etchmiadzin: “Come, let us build the altar of light!”

The altar, which pointed to rules and regulations is now standing as a beacon of light, and therefore, as a lifesaver offering and giving hope! The Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church attests to this subtle change of focus when the celebrant prays, “God of truth and Father of mercy, we thank you, for you have exalted our nature, above that of the blessed patriarchs; for you were called God to them, whereas in compassion you have been pleased to be named Father to us.”

As children of our Heavenly Father, we are called to the highest calling: to share the Light with others, especially those living in darkness. “You are the light of the world,” says Jesus (Matthew 5).  “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Come let us build the altar of light, says the hymn, so that evil is exposed. Etchmiadzin is the altar of light that must be raised in a world of darkness.

“This is the verdict,” Jesus says, (John 3) “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

We pray, from St. Nersess Shnorhali’s prayer, O Christ, the true Light make my soul worthy to encounter with joy the light of your divine glory, on the day I will be called by you; and to rest in good hope, in the mansions of the righteous, until the great day of your coming. Have mercy upon your creatures, and on me, a sinner. Amen.


Cover: Altar of Descent, Holy Etchmiadzin, Fr. Vazken 2014

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