Saturday, April 07, 2007

Palm Sunday

Last Sunday was my first Armenian Church Palm Sunday. We were in Boston last year, so I didn't get to go. I had heard that Palm Sunday was the best day of the year to go to church. If you only picked one Sunday to go to church, Palm Sunday was the one.

I had heard something vague about candles and children. In the "old country" (which varies, depending on where you are from. It could be Lebanon, Syria, Iran, or even Armenia), the kids used to hold lit candles and walk around the church on Palm Sunday. One lady at church told me that everyone had different candles. Different colors, different sizes, no rhyme or reason, just different festive colorful candles. My mom said that when she was growing up, the kids would have different sized candles according to their age.

Anyway, in this church, no candles. Maybe they used to do it? Looking at the kids, though, it seems like a good idea to just stick with the palm fronds. Palm Sunday, being the day to go to church, is also the day when everyone brings their tiny babies and their rambunctious toddlers, kids who are too young for Sunday School and don't normally come to church. These toddlers can handle palm fronds, and the babymommas can manage holding their infant and a palm frond, but seems like candles might not be the way to go, safety-wise.

Church was packed. The only time I've seen a crowd like this was at the funeral last November. The line for communion was incredibly long. One of the highlights was watching the priest give communion to a baby that couldn't have been more than four months old. This baby seemed to be the child of an Armenian man and an Asian woman, who must have converted, because she took communion too. The priest's face just lit up when he was giving the baby communion. I really like that this priest cares so much about making kids and their parents welcome.

I went up to him after the service and told him that, and also that I appreciated that he didn't just "phone it in" every Sunday like I have seen other priests do during my recent travels. He broke out into this huge smile and gave me a big hug. We all like to be appreciated sometimes.


Elize said...

Hi Anoushig Aghchig,

I accidently fell upon your blog and was very moved. I am an Armenian mother of two (37 yrs-old) and a Visual Communicator (designer). I was born and still live in Montreal where we have a very active Armenian community.

Last year I joined our Church Executive committee. My objective being to create a publication (monthly newsletter) talking about the "essence of the Armenian Church" and what does it all mean... here's the link to the .pdf pubs of Gantegh (which means lantern)

Our community is changing, it's gotten older and the younger generation do not "participate". We have a huge mentality gap with our community... it's evolving, we'll see where it goes. All this to say, the journey is enlightening and the essence of our church is beautiful.

I hope you enjoy and I would love your feedback on the newsletter.

Elize Bogossian-Melkonian

Anoushig said...

Elize, we are facing a huge challenge when it comes to getting the younger generation involved. I find that at almost every church that I attend, I am one of the very few people there who is older than high-school aged but doesn't have kids. There are a lot of barriers to getting involved. It is worth it for me; I just wish other people would agree with me.

Your newsletter is very nice. I always appreciate historical information and explanations of different feasts/church traditions/etc. I am primarily familiar with Protestant traditions and services, so I am always learning. You must face a special challenge because you are in a trilingual community! I think some churches have enough trouble balancing English and Armenian, but you have French to deal with as well.

I think my ideas about how to get younger people involved are maybe more suitable for a new post. I have a few ideas based on what I have seen is either present or lacking in the churches that I have attended.