A beautiful tradition in the Armenian Church is to start the New Year with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on 1 January 2019.  As with every year, once again the faithful filled the pews of the Holy Resurrection Church to raise their prayers to the Almighty Father in thanksgiving for the year that passed and with hopes for the one ahead.

The celebrant of the Divine Liturgy and homilist was Parish Pastor, Reverend Father Avetis Hambardzumyan. The congregation in unison with the deacons accompanied the singing of the chants and hymns. In his sermon he warmly welcomed the attendance of the congregation on this first day of the year and reflected on the large number of congregants taking the sacrament of Holy Communion as a sign of renewing our spirits in the love and unity of Christ.

Following the Divine Liturgy, Fathers Norayr Patanian and Bartev Karakashian joined Father Avetis on the bema for the Pontifical Prayer (Hayrabedagan Maghtank), wishing steadfastness to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and a successful reign to the Catholicos of All Armenians.

For the first time this year, the Prayer of Thanks Pomegranates Blessing service was held to conclude the day’s services. In the Armenian tradition, the pomegranate is a national symbol representing life, abundance and prosperity. In Christian symbolism, the pomegranate represents the blood shed by Jesus Christ, also symbolising the Lord’s Glorious Resurrection and the diversity of God’s graces. In the Armenian Church, the pomegranate also depicts like its seeds, the numerous and various Church members, covered with a solid outer layer, being united into one Church. For this reason, the pomegranate is widely used in the ornamentation of the church architecture, arts, and miniatures.

Following the prayer of thanks for the harvest and bounty of the fruit that beautifully ornated the bema on this New Year’s Day, the congregants were invited to receive a blessed pomegranate to take home.