Empty Tomb – Easter

The Empty Tomb: Resurrection

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! (Luke 24)

There you have it! He is not here! He has risen!

Your fifty-day journey comes to a head with this news. He has risen.

Fifty days! Count them: You had one-day of introduction – boon barekentan, forty-days of Lent, and nine-days from the end of Lent to today, Easter Sunday. Fifty-days of twists and turns, spiritual questioning and, hopefully, encounters with God. You have arrived at this day, born anew and born from above, ready to take on life with love and the passion that God has put inside of you. The Resurrection of Christ is your invitation to the Resurrection in your life.

Congratulations! You have just learned the secret of Armodoxy. It’s the foundation of faith for a people who have survived and thrived despite not having military weaponry and or aggressive inklings for world domination. You have experienced the formula for life, that behind Crucifixion there is Resurrection.

The answer to today’s question – the last question in this series – can only be answered by you, and you alone: Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Happy Easter: Christ has Risen! God bless.

Govea Yerusaghem: Luys Vocal  Quintet

Cover: Rise! by Gregory Beylerian

The Day After: Holy Saturday (Question 8)

The Day After: Holy Saturday

 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. – John 19:41

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you know that there is a period following that loss when it still hasn’t sunk in that you will no longer see this person. You start replaying the last few days in your head, remembering some of the last things that were spoken.

On this Saturday, the disciples and friends of Jesus were in shock. The events of the last week were surreal. On Sunday Jesus enters into Jerusalem as a “king” with the approval and praise of thousands of people. Five days later he’s abandoned. He was executed as a common criminal for the crime of… spreading love and harmony as the path to God. It must have been so confusing for his followers, as it is to us, two-thousand years later.

The Hope had died in their witness.

Those at the foot of the Cross, surely remembered the haunting last words of Jesus.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Even after being barbarically beaten and left to die, He forgives.

I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise. Even in His agony His love was directed to others.

Woman, behold your son! The Blessed Mother must have reflected on the 33 years of miracles and amazement, and now it had come to an end.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus taught us to rely on our Heavenly Father, and now, in His hour of need, had God forgotten him?

I thirst. The One who offered living waters that would satisfy any thirst, was now exclaiming his thirst.

It is finished. There was a purpose for all that happened.

Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!

On this Holy Saturday, on the road to Resurrection, the question that comes to us, a question which you, and you alone, can answer: Not knowing what tomorrow brings, what is your take-away from all that happened over these past few days, the days we call Holy Week?

Tomorrow: The Empty Grave

The Cross: Holy Friday (Question 7)

The Cross: Holy Friday

Each day of Holy Week, on the road to Resurrection, we have been confronted by a question which only you, and you alone, can answer. On this Holy Friday, we come up against the Cross, which in itself is an enigma. It is an instrument of torture. It is the instrument upon which the Son of God, was tortured and killed and yet, within our faith, it is the symbol of Christianity, and therefore the symbol of love.

Within the course of one night, Jesus was accused, stood trial on false charges, was taken back and forth between the chief priests, the councils, the Jewish king and the Roman procurator and was sentenced to death. The means of death was crucifixion – a slow, painfully agonizing means of torture by which an individual hangs from nails through his hands and feet while he suffocates to death over the course of a few hours. Meanwhile, crowds gather to watch the spectacle, mock and chastise him. All four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record this event in their Gospels, with graphic detail.

Jesus willingly accepts the path of the Cross, because it is there that He sacrifices for the salvation of the world. In so doing, Jesus transforms that cross from an instrument of torture to an means of salvation, just as he transforms the reality of the day, from a truly Bad and Evil Friday to “Good Friday.”

During His ministry, Jesus calls on us and challenges us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

As we stand before the Cross of Christ, on this Good Friday, let us listen to the words of our Lord carefully. Let us absorb the events of this day. The question on this Friday, on the Road to Resurrection asks, “Are you picking up your cross and following Him?”

Tomorrow: The Day After

Cover photo: Luna & Gregory Beylerian

Crucifix by Chris Brown, for In His Shoes:


Expression of Love: Holy Thursday (Question 6)

The expression of Love: Holy Thursday

Each day of Holy Week, on the road to Resurrection, we are presented with a question which only you, and you alone, can answer.

During the Last Supper, Jesus speaks openly to his beloved and seated disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15)

Jesus tells his disciples that by love they will be identified as his followers, that is, Christianity is defined by love. Love begins with God and is expressed through sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice being the offering of life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Following the Supper, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

It is there that a mob arrives, led by one of the 12 disciples named Judas Iscariot. Judas kisses the Lord to betray him to the mob. Jesus is captured as a common criminal, then taken before the religious elite to stand trial for conjured-up charges. The passion, that is the suffering of the Lord, continues through the night. From mock trials to the religious leaders, to the government officials, He is humiliated, beaten, mocked, and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

From the point of his arrest to the sentencing, Jesus has been abandoned by all of his friends and followers. One of his friends betrayed him (with a kiss) while another, Peter, denied him three times, when asked if he knew Jesus. Yet all the while, Jesus does not abandon anyone – neither his friends, his followers, nor His accusers, nor any one of us, for that matter. He stands as a testament to the power of Love. He accepts the sentence and makes his way to the Cross. It is here that we understand that the Cross, therefore, is the ultimate expression of Love within Armenian Orthodox theology.

The sixth question on this road to the Resurrection, comes in a form first asked to Judas, “Do you betray the Son of God with a kiss?” and then asked of Peter, “Are you with Jesus?” They are one in the same question: Love is what defines us as Christians according to Jesus and He himself, in a gesture of Love is sacrificing his life. Are you with him? Or have you betrayed him? Certainly a very heavy questions for a very heavy night. The night of the Passion of our Lord.

Tomorrow: The Cross

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesay

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesday

On this Wednesday, the fifth day on the road to Resurrection, we are reminded of our aim, the presence of Christ. In Armodoxy, the Christ Presence is accessible to all. “Let the little children come to me,” says Jesus, “and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) The children, being pure of heart, have access and therefore, the potential for everyone to have access is a given.

Before He was betrayed, before his trial and crucifixion, Jesus ate one last meal with his loved ones. Known as the “Last Supper,” this is where Jesus gave his instruction to disciples. Addressing them by using the same descriptive phrase, “Little children,” Jesus tells them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13) He placed love as the highest standard for identification as a follower of Christ.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26) These words of Institution established the ritual of Communion.  It is a sacred and a holy act by which we literally and completely absorb Christ as the energy source by which we live the expression of love. The Christ Presences is not outside of you, but, in the words of Jesus, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17)

Today’s question, Where is the Christ Presence in your life?

Tomorrow: The expression of Love

Readiness: Holy Tuesday (Question 4 of 9)

Readiness: Holy Tuesday

Each day of Holy Week, on the road to Resurrection, we are presented with a question which only you, and you alone, can answer.

On Tuesday of Holy Week, the Armenian Church recounts a parable offered by Jesus, known as the “Parable of the 10 Maidens” (Matthew 25). The guests of a wedding celebration are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. As the sun sets guests are left in the dark. Half of them have come prepared with lanterns filled with oil, while the others have exhausted their resources. Jesus refers to these guests as “foolish” for their lack of preparedness. Jesus says, “The foolish guests said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’” The foolish guests had to leave the gathering in order to purchase more oil. While they were gone, the bridegroom came. The wise guests entered while the foolish ones, as a consequence of their unpreparedness, were left outside of the wedding feast.

The bridegroom alludes to Christ and the celebration is being in Christ’s presence. Preparation for this “feast” is to be wise, that is to always be prepared. Jesus concludes the parable with the words, “because you do not know the day or the hour.”

While yesterday’s question challenged us to look within and identify the change we are looking for, on this fourth day on the road to Resurrection, we are being questioned, Are you ready for the change that comes with the Christ presence?

Tomorrow: The Christ Presence

Cleansing: Holy Monday (Question 3)

Cleansing: Holy Monday

What is it that you fear that would make you silence voices of praise? was the second question of this Holy Week. Each day of Holy Week, leading to the Resurrection, presents us with a question which only you, and you alone, can answer.

On Holy Monday, we wash the altar of our church with wine and water. After Jesus came to the Holy City on Palm Sunday, he entered the temple courts, and began to drive out the merchants and moneylenders who were selling and trading in this sacred space. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of thieves.’” (Luke 19)

Jesus is the author of change. When he enters your life, your sacred space, He drives out everything that does not belong there and cleanses what remains.

What is it that does not belong in your life? This then is the third question on the road to Resurrection. With a question that is equally important, Are you ready for this cleansing?

Tomorrow: Readiness

Stones: Palm Sunday (9 Questions to Resurrection)

Stones: Palm Sunday (Question 2 of 9 Questions to Resurrection, an Armodox journey through Holy Week)

“Do you believe this?” is the simple question posed to us by Jesus, with which we began Holy Week. Each of the days of Holy Week leading to the Resurrection presents us with a question which only you, and you alone can answer.

On the Sunday before Easter, Scripture tells us that Jesus entered into Jerusalem, humbly, but was quickly elevated by the people to the status of king, a savior who had come to liberate them from the political bonds that enslaved them.

In the Gospel of John (12) we read, “…When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

The religious establishment fearing the possibility of a religious rebellion told Jesus to stifle the crowd – to rebuke them, to which Jesus says, “I tell you that if these [people] should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19)

What is it that you fear that would make you silence voices of praise? is the second question of this Holy Week.

Tomorrow: Cleansing

Lazarus: Beginnings

Lazarus: Beginnings (9 days to Easter)

John chapter 11

Lent is over and now Holy Week begins in the Armenian Church with a remembrance of Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus, who succumbs to an illness. His distraught sisters mention to Jesus, that had he been by Lazarus would not have died. Jesus proclaims, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” He asks the sisters, “Do you believe this?”
With this question – not a simple one by any means – begins a voyage through Holy Week, the most sacred and spiritually motivating time of the Christian year. From Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, to the Last Supper, His Passion, Crucifixion, Burial to the victory of Resurrection, we will journey together, day by day. And it all begins with a question asking for your answer, “Do you believe this?”

Tomorrow: Palm Sunday.

Cover photo: 2023 Luna & Gregory Beylerian

Worship – Lent Day 40

Lenten Journey Day 40 – Worship

What a beautiful day today is. It is day 40 – forty days ago you began this Lenten Journey. You feel a sense of accomplishment. It is a good feeling. It has been 40 days of fasting – abstaining from certain foods. It has been 40 days of intensified prayer life. It has been 40 days of charitable giving, not merely by writing out checks but giving pieces of ourselves. We have counted our blessings and our talents, contemplating our purpose and function within life and our world. It has been a time of reflection.

It is perfectly natural for us to look back today, perhaps even revisit some of the themes that we explored during this Season. But that backward look might, in fact, be counter to what we learned during this Lenten Journey.

Today as we gather on this 40th day of Lent we arrive as new creatures. We have been transformed. We have changed, perhaps not to the exact place we would like to be, but the change is noticeable. We have a new outlook. We see ourselves differently, as individuals and within the structure of our families, our communities and the world.

The one topic that naturally follows is “Worship.” It is the one area that we have not explored. It is the most extraordinary and natural. It is the final step we need to take during this Lenten Season.

In worship we understand ourselves in relationship with God in a rather unique manner. Worship is not prayer . It is praise. Worship is not asking. Worship is giving. It is giving ourselves and humbling ourselves before that which is greater than ours self. And so, Worship is the final step in the Lenten period.

It has been a beautiful journey this year because we have grown, both individually and together. By listening, by talking, by sharing, by extending ourselves, that is, by Loving! Think of it for a moment. The Love that we share with others defines who we are in, for and around life itself. And we have a new definition. We have a new lease on life today! We have opportunity to come face-to-face with this holy season, to look at the resurrection with new eyes. Our eyes are focusing beyond The Crucifixion and we see the Empty Tomb. We witness and become part of the Tomb.

Imagine that…. Sitting in the Tomb of Jesus. Imagine waking up after the torture of crucifixion. Imagine waking up after a burial. We can now share properly what we were intended to share from the very beginning – to become participants in the salvation process. It is not a question of being saved, but one of being a participant. And that is where worship grants us a perfect model.

Worship in the Armenian Church is participation. It is an act of participation. It is not witnessing, but throwing yourself into it holistically with all your senses. To visually see what is around you – the visual delights, the colors, the candles, the flowers. To smell the aroma of the flowers at the altar as well as the incense that takes our prayers to heaven. To be able to hear the beautiful tones and tonalities of the angels. Not saying I don’t understand so let the angels come to me, but rather asking, how can I fly with the angels. How can I participant? Our sense of touch is also important in the Worship services. We have to touch each another. We have to physically love one another. We have to kiss each other to say “You are important in my life just as I would like to be important in yours.” In that touching process we begin to understand what it means to put our feet in the shoes of others. In the shoes of our brothers and sisters, of our people, of others who are struggling. We place our feet in the shoes of others and we understand their difficulties. Perhaps the loss of a job? The loss of a loved one? Perhaps they have an inability to process the spirituality, to process the love that God has put in our heart. And so we reach out to one another physically.

Finally we appeal to our sense of taste. We participate by communicating, by communing with the Holy Eucharist, with the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ.
So we see that worship really is that final step in the Lenten Journey. It is a step that allows us to go beyond Lent, so that taking what we learned during these 40 days, we can apply it and make it a reality in our life, every single day and every single moment, in our relationships with one another, to draw on what we learned in the past, but not to stay there in the past, and to say that the life before me is so beautiful that I’m ready to walk. I am ready to take on the challenges. I am empowered by God. I have been given a new lease on life with Jesus Christ as my savior.

Jesus Christ. Love incarnate. You have been given a new lease on life through Jesus, through love.

We conclude with a meditation on John chapter 15, Jesus, the True Vine. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.


Thank you for joining us on this year’s Lenten Journey. We invite you to follow along a special series during Holy Week. This concludes the Lenten Journey.

The daily messages continue tomorrow with the Holy Week series at Epostle.net