On Sunday, September 11, we celebrated one of the five major Tabernacle (Daghavar) Feasts in the Armenian Church – the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachverats or Veratsumn Srpo Khachi).
There were three historical events involving the exaltation of the cross: when St. James (Soorp Hagop), the first bishop of Jerusalem exalted the cross, when the early Christians discovered the cross after it had been lost, and when the cross passed through Armenia on its way back to Jerusalem after being rescued from the pagan Persians. It was at this last event that the Armenians decorated the cross with flowers and sweet basil, and exalted the cross with great reverence and joy.
Thus, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Divine Liturgy includes an antasdan service (blessing of the fields) during which the processional cross is adorned with basil (a symbol of royalty) and the four corners of the church are blessed as a symbol for all the world. It is a ceremony of blessing and glorification to God for His bounty, His goodness and abundance throughout the world. On the Saturday preceding the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, faithful members of the St. Thomas Armenian Church family traditionally decorate the pedestal for the Holy Cross. Mrs. Rosine Hovsepian and Taleen Torisian decorated the Holy Cross this year.
All Christians recognize this Feast. The cross, or khatch, represents eternal life. It is God’s word and strength. The four Gospels are read from on this day, about faith in Christ and His crucifixion for us in place of us, and His physical exit from Earth. Significant from today’s sermon is that “Today’s raising of the cross is just a reminder of our everyday reverence of it. It is the power of God.”