Holy Week: Christmas in Springtime
My heart is full; it is Holy Week, and alas I have felt the heaviness of this sacred time for us Christians. Perhaps, of all the nights of the year, tonight is when I am most certain of God and of eternal life. I have just returned from Maundy Thursday services, and in the Armenian Orthodox Church, these services constitute such a beautiful flow of prayers, hymns, and acts, that it is impossible for one not to be moved.
After the traditional Washing of the Feet Service, during which this year, 12 young boys of our parish community had their feet washed by the priest, the Armenian Orthodox Church has what is called a “Khavaroom” Service, or the Service of the Darkness. It is literally a service done in the darkness. It is in remembrance of the Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
After a series of hymns and prayers, the priest ascends to the altar, everyone is seated, and the only light in the entire sanctuary of the church, emanates from behind the closed, black altar curtain. A silence drapes the darkened church; small children nestle into their mother’s laps as the darkness lulls them to sleep; the priest begins to sing. The tune is melancholic, unbelievably so; the words, heart-wrenching. “Oor es, Mayr eem?” the priest sings mournfully. “Where are you, Mother mine?” Christ cries out to the Virgin Mary as He is crucified. Yes, our divine Savior, himself is human, and He cries out for that most tried kind of love, the love of a mother for her child. If it is not evident in any other moment, it is this very night, as these words are sung, and the Lord is crucified. My heart is full, laden with solemn thoughts, with humility, and with the burning wish that I be a better person, a fraction as forgiving and loving as the Son of God.
From where I sit at the organ during this service, I have a view of the altar from the side that allows me to catch a diagonal glimpse of the back of the closed altar. And so, as the rest of the Church is in utter darkness, bereft of all sense of time and reality, I am afforded a look upon the small, illuminated portion of the altar, and what do I see? The portrait of the Virgin Mary, embracing the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This, as the priest sings the words of Christ’s suffering and crucifixion, “Where are you, Mother mine?” My heart is full.
Posted by: Jasmine | April 3, 2008 10:58 PM
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Posted by: Maral | March 29, 2008 10:08 AM
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