This past Thursday, March 24, 2016, marked the day on which Christians remember Holy, or Maundy, Thursday (Avak Heenkshaptee). St. Thomas Church was filled with parishioners who were family members of those participating in the Vodnluva (Washing of the Feet) service, and also those who wanted to participate in the solemn Khavaroom (Vigil of the Garden) service.
The Vodnluva took place first, with almost 20 children participating in this act of humility with our Pastor, Fr. Papken. Upon washing of the feet, Fr. Papken made the sign of the cross on each child was with blessed butter, which was also distributed to parishioners who wished to take some to their homes.
It was on this day that Jesus and His twelve disciples were to celebrate their last Passover meal, the Last Supper. A specially slaughtered Passover lamb was eaten. Bread was broken and wine was distributed to everyone at ritually ordained moments. The Holy Communion (Soorp Haghortootyun) was established during this Last Supper through the following words of Christ, God-incarnate: “Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then he took a cup and after giving thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of New Covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).
At the meal, Jesus revealed Himself as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and as the New Covenant that the Jews and the world both had anticipated. He was the New Covenant and the meal was the final Passover of the Old Testament. Christ would be the new and the true Passover lamb to be slaughtered, for us, and in our place. During the Last Supper, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet (Vodnluva) as an example of the love and humility that His followers must show others.
After the Vodnluva service, everyone was invited to the Mekhjian Atrium for a traditional Lenten meal of cooked lentils, vinegar, and vegetable-based dishes and salads. The mothers of the children participating in the Vodnluva, and Mrs. Ani Capan, prepared the dinner, which was blessed by Fr. Papken. After this brief period, parishioners returned to the church for the Khavaroom service.
During the Khavaroom (Vigil of the Garden) service, the Passion of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane is remembered. The service begins with the singing of songs from the Night Service. Seven Gospel readings are read, ethereal hymns are sung, and heartfelt supplications are made to the Lord. After each Gospel, candles on the holy Altar are extinguished, until the church is plunged into total darkness. This darkness signifies the darkness that fell upon the soul of humanity as a result of His Arrest, Passion and Murder.
We invite you to view all the pictures from the Holy Thursday service in our photo gallery.