Tag Archive for: Communion

A Special Meal: Emmaus

Armodoxy for Today: A Special Meal

Following the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to many people, according to the gospel narratives. On one occasion, according to the Gospel of Luke (chapter 24), a couple of Jesus’ followers were on the road to Emmaus, a village about 7 miles out of Jerusalem. Jesus approached them, but they did not recognize him. The Gospel says, their eyes were restrained.

They strike up a conversation with Jesus, who is a stranger in their eyes. During their walk to Emmaus, Jesus speaks of the prophets and the law, beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

In the evening, these men invite Jesus to stay with them. And then something very special happens. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…

Yes, very early in Christian history, only days after the Resurrection, the breaking of bread – the community meal – was already established as the action of the Christian gathering. Jesus quoted scripture, spoke of the law and prophets, but they did not recognize him until he broke the bread.

That special meal takes place every Sunday in the Armenian Church. It is the sacred Divine Liturgy, which in Armenian is called, Holy Badarak, that is, the Holy Sacrifice.

The Prayer today is a hymn of the Armenian Church Badarak:

Christ is sacrificed and distributed among us. His Body he gives us for food, and his holy Blood he sprinkles as drops of water for us. Draw near to the Lord and take the light. Taste and see that the Lord is sweet. Praise the Lord in the heavens. Praise him in the heights. Praise him, all his angels. Amen.

Cover Photo: 2023 Luna & Gregory Beylerian

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesay

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesday

On this Wednesday, the fifth day on the road to Resurrection, we are reminded of our aim, the presence of Christ. In Armodoxy, the Christ Presence is accessible to all. “Let the little children come to me,” says Jesus, “and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) The children, being pure of heart, have access and therefore, the potential for everyone to have access is a given.

Before He was betrayed, before his trial and crucifixion, Jesus ate one last meal with his loved ones. Known as the “Last Supper,” this is where Jesus gave his instruction to disciples. Addressing them by using the same descriptive phrase, “Little children,” Jesus tells them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13) He placed love as the highest standard for identification as a follower of Christ.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26) These words of Institution established the ritual of Communion.  It is a sacred and a holy act by which we literally and completely absorb Christ as the energy source by which we live the expression of love. The Christ Presences is not outside of you, but, in the words of Jesus, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17)

Today’s question, Where is the Christ Presence in your life?

Tomorrow: The expression of Love

Escorted Out

Armodoxy for Today: Escorted Out

We are in the midst of a period called the Fast of the Catechumens. A catechumen is a recent convert to Christianity who is under instruction before baptism. The Armenian Church accommodated this group during the Divine Liturgy. This accommodations has fallen out of practice in recent times, but the form – the “order” – is still a loud one on Sunday mornings.

During the Holy Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, following the Scriptural readings of the day, the deacons let out a chant, “Mi vok herakhayits…” which translates, “Let none of the catechumens, none of little faith and none of the penitents or the unclean draw near to this divine mystery.” In earlier times, at that point, the church building was cleared out of all the catechumens. They were escorted to the front of the church building where instruction in the faith was offered to them. You might think of it as a Sunday School program. It is hard to imagine something like that happening in our churches today. We tend to think of the Church as an open arena for us to come in and out of. How dare anyone escort us out of the church! we think. After all, we argue, Jesus never put restrictions on those who approached him.

Quite true, but this is not about being unwelcomed in the church, as being escorted out the sanctuary may suggest. Instead, think of the serious with which the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Communion, was understood by the Christians of earlier times. It was so holy and sacred, that those who were not baptized could not participate. And to be baptized, implied knowledge of the teachings of Christ and the Church.

Looking at the structure of the Divine Liturgy reveals that those who were waiting to be baptized, that is the catechumens, were invited to come to church for the instructional portion of the Divine Liturgy, known as the “jashou,” literally meaning, “The meal.” They would hear the scriptures read and then the priest would give a sermon on the readings. This was the spiritual meal of the day, the jashou. The Creed of the Church (Nicaean) was recited, giving a chance to witness and articulate the Faith. Then the catechumens would be taken out to learn and pray.

Often, when we hear about the rules and regulations of the discipline of the Church we are critical of the moves that do not follow our understanding of the Faith. I mention this small little action practiced by the Church of earlier centuries to emphasize reverence and discipline with which they approached the Holy Sacrament. This, then becomes an opportunity for us to question our sense of reverence and discipline toward the Blessed Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is a forgotten part of the tradition of our Church, but an important exercise in the Armodox self-evaluating process.

Let us pray the hymn of the Holy Eucharist, “Christ is sacrificed and distributed among us. His Body he gives us for food, and his holy Blood he bedews for us. Draw near to the Lord and take the light. Taste and see that the Lord is sweet. Praise the Lord in the heavens. Praise him in the heights. Praise him, all his angels. Praise him, all his hosts. Alleluia.


Armodoxy for Today: Cleansing

During this week, the Scriptural reading given to us by the Church follows the first miracle – the water into wine – which we encountered yesterday. John 2:12-22, shares the story of Jesus cleaning the temple.

Jesus found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.  When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.  And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 

In the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – a story similar to this appears as Jesus makes his final entry into Jerusalem, the day traditionally referred to as Palm Sunday. In the Gospel of John, we read the story at the beginning of his ministry. Building on the topic of “Maturity of Faith” from yesterday’s Armodoxy lesson, we may assume that the cleansing of the temple was not a singular event.

The Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus, is distributed and received every week. The repetitive nature of the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion is an expression of Jesus coming into our lives, not only once, but always there to remove and cleanse all that does not belong in the sanctity of our lives.

The Gospel continues, So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. “Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

The Cleansing of the Temple is a scene right out of the movies. It speaks to people on many levels. It is the man-of-principle going up against the corporate machine. It is the individual versus the institution. Most importantly, it is Jesus Christ entering our temple, our lives. Once there, he is ready to clean house, to remove the hatred, the laziness, the envy and jealousy that are doing business there. It is up to us, as is the case in the story, whether we argue with him, stop him from doing so, or open ourselves to the cleansing he provides.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, you enter the Temple in Jerusalem to clean out all who do not belong there. Come into the holiness of my temple and wash me thoroughly from my sin. Rid my life of pride, envy, anger, laziness, gluttony, lust and covetousness, and should they return may your Holy Body and Blood be forever cleansing me, into your Kingdom. Amen.”

Invite to the Banquet

Armodoxy for Today
Invite to the Banquet

This week of Advent is dedicated to a parable offered by our Lord and recorded by St. Luke (chapter 14:12-24).

Suppose you wanted to celebrate your daughter’s birthday with a party on 20th of the month. You send out invites to your relatives, friends and even neighbors. “Help us celebrate our daughter’s birthday” says the invite. “On the 20th at 5PM, in our backyard, join us for a bar-b-que,” finishes off the invite. You send them off and start receiving responses: the first one says, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it on the 20th can you change the date to the 19th?” Another says, “I don’t like bar-b-que, too bad you’re not serving baked foods. I won’t be coming.” The next one complains that the outdoors, your backyard, is too cold. “I wish you had the event in a hall. I won’t be attending.”

Such a scenario would be humorous at the least, and downright rude on the courtesy scale. Jesus shares the following parable with us. His intention was not to be humorous, nor to get a rise out of us. Instead, he speaks of the lessons that is part of our Advent Journey on the road to Christmas through Armodoxy.

Jesus said, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

This story, the Parable of the Great Banquet, has many dimensions to it. It speaks of the invitation to Christianity and Christian living in particular and talks about the call to humanity, to living in harmony with and within our world, in general. It points to the essence and the purpose of Christmas. For this reason the Armenian Church has prescribed this parable as the theme of this week in Advent.

We have heard the parable. We dive into to tomorrow, as we continue our Advent Journey. I look forward to having you join us.

Let us pray, Heavenly Father, you have invited me to our Kingdom. From the day of my baptism from the holy font until today, I have tried to follow your ways. Sometimes I wonder off the path, and I find excuses to justify my missteps. Today, I put those excuses to one side and I look to you to keep my feet on the path you have opened for me. Amen.