Q&A: King of Glory

Deacon’s Q&A: Who is this King of glory, mighty in battle?

Matenadaran Ms.3833

by Fr. Vazken Movsesian

(Written for the WD Deacons’ Chant, Autumn 2021)

Sunday after Sunday in the Armenian Church, we hear a question-and-answer session taking place during the Divine Liturgy. It’s the same Q&A session we have heard for centuries. In fact, it was heard loud and clear in churches last year, specifically on September 27, as Azeri’s began attacking and shelling Armenians in Artsakh.

The deacon, with the chalice in hands, approaches the priest and asks that the doors be opened for the “King of glory.” The priest asks, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle?” (Ո՞վ է սա թագաւոր փառաց, Տէր հզօր զօրութեամբ իւրով, Տէր կարող ի պատերազմի). The questioning continues and upon his second inquiry, the deacon announces, “He is the King of glory!” (Սա ինքն է թագաւոր փառաց) and hands-off the chalice for the priest to prepare the Holy Eucharist.

It was the Psalmist who first framed the dialogue on behalf of a hurting world (Psalm 24:8-10). And it has been heard and overheard from altar areas ever since, during times of trouble and persecution just as it was last year in the midst of the 44-day war. In churches where Armenian souls congregate, the scene is repeated.

Priest: Who is the King of glory… mighty in battle?

Deacon: He is the King of glory!

With a war that cost us thousands of lives and the loss of land, another question surfaced: Who is this King, so mighty in battle, that we lost the war? Perhaps not as audible as the chants of the deacon in church, but definitely in the solitude of the mind, many were haunted by the reality of this question. We have heard it, and hear it often. More so, the Q&A of Psalm 24 is an issue of relevance: What is the relevance of our church service and our Faith to the events taking place in the world today? What is the connection between our actions Sunday morning and our response to the tragedies that take place during the rest of the week? Ultimately, what does it mean to proclaim God as almighty – mighty in battle – in the face of horrific tragedies that we endure?

When Abp. Hovnan Derderian first organized the Deacons Council last year, he did so to celebrate a ministry which often gets forgotten amidst ritual. During ordination, deacons are vested with rights and responsibilities which go beyond the Sunday worship service. Through the Deacons Council our intention was, and is, to exploit those gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to the deacon. It was only a couple of months after we began holding Council meetings that the War broke out in Artsakh. Immediately, the Deacons Council began collecting funds for the war effort and following their calling, the deacons began holding nightly prayer sessions, many of which were streamed and shared with sisters and brothers in Christ throughout the world. Each of those prayer services were invitations to the faithful to look within, to share with those in need the gifts and talents with which God has blessed us. In Holy Scripture, time and time again, we find our Lord Jesus teaching by example. When a tragedy befalls another, he touches them with his love (cf. Luke 7:11f) and asks us to do the same (Matthew 22:39). This is a calling for deacons, priests, and everyone.

The ministry of the Deacon is defined by service and assistance (Acts 6). During the Divine Liturgy, the deacon is heard inviting people to worship. He beckons the congregation to stand in peace, to pray fervently, to listen in awe, to prepare themselves and to approach the Blessed Sacrament. Simply put, he calls everyone to celebrate the victory of Christ. His pronouncement “He is the King of glory!” is a response to the priest’s question and at the same time it is an invitation for us to engage in the Kingdom which is in our midst. “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” says Christ our Lord, “Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

“The King of glory mighty in battle,” is the answer the Deacon proclaims to the priest and in-turn to all of us, every Sunday. Sure, Christian apologists, saints and fathers of the Church bring their message and connection to the Psalmist’s inquiry, but today deacons invite us to explore, engage and discover the King of glory for ourselves. Just as they invite us to stand, to listen and to participate, so too, today the invitation is to witness “the King of glory mighty in battle” who is here answering us, our sufferings, our dilemmas, and our wars. By accepting the invitation, we engage in the Kingdom of God. We accept a call to responsibility. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you!

Today, as we remember the beginning of the War in Artsakh and the horrific events that followed, let us listen even more fervently to the proclamation: He is the King of glory – a King who resides with us and within us. Herein, we understand ourselves as members of a Kingdom and therefore accept responsibility for our lives and the world around us. Our Divine Liturgy and hence, our Church is calling us to this higher understanding of our Christian Faith, as members of the Kingdom, to engage in the struggles and sufferings that are all around us, not with a question but with the solid answer: He is the King of glory, mighty in battle.

-27 September 2021


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