Armodoxy for Today: Christmas in July
The ad came in the mail. It’s one of the few things that still comes by mail. Red and green writing over a picture of a big poinsettia plant: “Christmas in July – SALE!” I smiled and moved on. Later that day it caught my eye while scanning through the TV dial, a big candy cane with the words, “Christmas in July – SALE” on the QVC in-home shopping channel. The next day, I couldn’t avoid it. The words were popping up on my social media pages, letting me know this was not only being promoted by old-school media, but this was a full blown campaign to bring the old-yuletide cheer to businesses wanting to scoop up some extra funds in mid-summer.
Imagine that, I thought to myself, marketers are bringing the Christ name-brand, that is Christmas, to the your local neighborhood to sell made-in-China wares to a sympathetic public. To be sure, the economy here in the US is dependent on year-end, holiday shopping. So some entrepreneur or entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the popularity of Christmas and exploiting it by creating an extra season of holly, candy cane stripes and jolly merriment and collect the financial rewards that comes with this new Christmas season. Imagine that, I thought.
And then it hit me: This was the goal we set out to achieve when we in the Armenian Church celebrate Christmas on December 25 and January 6. This was the Armodoxy formula: The Christian celebrates Christmas every day of the year! Christ is born and revealed every day when a Christian lives his or her life according to the tenants of love. The Christian keeps the message of Christmas alive and in focus all year long! Of course, no one is fooled by this Christmas in July campaign. The object is simply to make money. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use the opportunity to focus on the Christmas message in July, just as we should in August, October, March and May.
So with that introduction, welcome to our Christmas in July podcast, Armodoxy for Today. We begin with the very pronounced message that haunts us at Christmas time, namely that there was no room in the Inn for Jesus. The King-of-kings, the Son of the most high God, was humbly born in a stable and placed in a manger instead of a crib. There was no room for him, not in the Inn and not in the world. People did not want to be bothered with a young Mary who was going through her labor pains, away from her family and on the road in Bethlehem, God opened this small window of possibility for His Son to be born.
Enter Fr. Gregor Gregoryan of Yerevan, 2000 years after the birth of Christ. We recently met him at the Holy Asdvadzadzin “Zoravor” Armenian Church. A few years back, he and his wife had a child. They named him Monte. He was soon diagnosed with Down syndrome. Fr. Gregor looked for help and found none. Monte had come into a world that wasn’t ready for him, in fact, there was no room for him. People didn’t want to be bothered with him or with the struggle of his parents.
Fr. Gregor, a man of deep faith, leaned on God. He found other parents who had the joy of a Down syndrome child but were left out of the joy of parenthood because of the various stigmas attached to Down syndrome children. He brought together families and with the help of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Catholicos of All Armenians, a small center was established for these children. We went there and met with these children. They sang for us, played music and danced for us.
This is Christmas in July. In the next few days, we will be meeting Fr. Gregor, his children and the “Arev” children center he’s established. You’ll learn of the miracle that is taking place. You’ll be at one with the Christmas message: There was no room at the Inn, but this night, God made room in the hearts of men and women throughout the world.
The meditation comes to us from the Gospel Reading for the Sunday after the Transfiguration, Matthew (18:10-14), wherein Jesus says, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.