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In a few days' time, we will learn the name of the new Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem. Four or five names have been see-sawing in the consciousness of those following these developments for many long weeks already. But the haze of speculation will finally be removed with the elections and actual votes of the members of the St James Brotherhood (36 in all).
So 23rd and 24th January 2013 will be two important dates not only for the new person succeeding HB Patriarch Torkom II and leading the church in the Holy Land, but equally importantly for the Armenians still living and witnessing in those biblical and historical lands.
No doubt I will return to reflect on the 'name' choice next week, but in the meantime let me share with you the Armenian and English versions of the Christmas Eve sermon in Bethlehem (for calendar and protocol reasons, it is 19 January of every year in Bethlehem for the Armenian Orthodox Church) by HE Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchate during this interim period.
If you look at both documents, and assuming you can read both, the Armenian text (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/armenian_christmas_message_2013-3.pdf) is focused on the intra-Armenian family and representatives, whereas the English (shorter) text (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/armenian_christmas_message_2013-4.pdf) homes in -- and rightly so -- on a larger Holy Land society within Palestine, Israel and Jordan. There are special mentions, it will be noted, for Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad of the newly-recognised Palestinian state.
This blog comes with seasonal greetings to and from all Jerusalemite Armenians as we usher in the 'ordinary times' following Christmas. (For those who may not realise, Armenians celebrate Christmas on 6th January - the date when, historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ's birth until the fourth century. So our 'Christmas period', coinciding with Epiphany, extends to the beginning of this weekend.)
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), Ecumenical consultant to the Primate of Armenian Church in UK & Ireland, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net Follow him on Twitter here: @harryhagopian