It was the annual Lenten luncheon sponsored by the Women’s Christian Fellowship of the Armenian Congregational Church of Southfield, Mi. on Friday April 7. It is always a well-attended event by all segments of the Armenian community.
Mrs. Carole Basmadjian graciously welcomed guests to the church’s dining hall beautifully outfitted for a sit down dinner fitting the occasion. She invited Pastor Shant Barsoumian to give the Invocation as he declared, “May Holy Week, the Resurrection of our Lord be a blessing for us all.” He added, “His sacrifice guides us. We must remember his sacrifice always and especially as we shortly will be approaching Holy Week, the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Crist.”
The Lenten menu consisted of Vospov Kufte, baked cod, salad, halva, and Lenten Cookies, a traditional Armenian menu appropriate for the occasion.
Mrs. Basmadjian welcomed Deacon Ms. Ovsanna Dervartanian to speak about Armenian Lenten traditions. She explained prior to Lent, Armenians were in a celebratory mood, eating whatever they desired, and having good fun times. “When Lent starts people then lived a quiet life and restricted their food consumption, including abstaining from food of animal flesh or any product produced by animals. The Lent period starts with seven Sundays. It signifies when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Ms. Dervartanian gave an explanation of the seven Sundays and their significance.
Included in the past lunch program were two songs sung by Mrs. Kathryn Charles accompanied by pianist Mrs. Susan Harrison. The musical selections included “Here I am Lord and “Come To Jesus.” Lyrics were uplifting, “I will provide ‘til their hearts are satisfied” and “sometimes the road is lonely and filled with pain, so cry to Jesus and live.. because when we walk sometimes we fall, so we call on Jesus.”
Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, Pastor Emeritus invited all the clergy to join him in giving the Benediction. He always refers to them as his brothers in Christ. Each clergyman gave a brief blessing, which was followed by everyone rising to sing “Hayr Mer.”
Participating clergy included Very Rev. Fr. Diran Papazian of St. John’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Rev. Shant Barsoumian of the Armenian Congregational Church, Rev. Hrant Kevorkian of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church, Badveli Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, Pastor Emeritus of the Armenian Congregational Church and Fr. Mikael Bassale, St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church.
We need to be mindful of how taxing Easter Holy Week is on our own clergy. Services can last up to three to four hours beginning on Holy Tuesday, for the Feast of Ten Virgins, Maundy Thursday of Washing of the Feet ceremony, Good Friday for the Service of Entombment, Holy Saturday, Scripture Reading and Easter Even Divine Liturgy, and finally Easter Sunday with morning services and Divine Liturgy.
We need to be grateful to our clergy who are steeped in tradition knowing grabar Armenian carrying on their Christian duty to us in memory of all our saints, martyrs, holy men, and Catholicoi.
Lent was marked by another appropriate Lenten Dinner. It was at St. John’s American Apostolic Church of Southfield, Mich. The dinner was blessed by Hayr Sourp. A crowd of 175 people feasted on a delicious lobster dinner with drown butter, potatoes, corn, and salad followed by sake and ice cream to honor a young parishioner’s 16th birthday.
In the Armenian Church a Home Blessing is done after Christmas and Easter by the visiting clergy who bring blessings of God to the family members, to the bread, salt and to the water of the house. These are the vital elements for human existence. Contact your clergymen to make an appointment.
We celebrate Easter as a victory over death. Satan came to tempt Jess but he relied on the word of God to keep him strong.
Greeter: “Kreesdos haryav ee merrelotz”
(Christ is risen from the dead)
Responder: “Ohrnyal eh harrootyunn Kristosee”
(Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ)
One of the highlights of attending Armeinan functions are the meet and greet aspects of folks you see infrequently. Such as the case with sisters Zoe Dakesian and Sally Tarpinian with whom I chatted at Armenian Congregational Lenten lunch, formerly of Massena, N.Y. Both ladies have great memories of Massena as a one-time strong Armenian community with Survivor Generation owners of grocery stores, dry cleaners, barber shops, and other businesses. “How did they do it with no language skill?” and they replied, “They just did it. They wanted to be self employed.” Bravo, Massena!