Armodoxy for Today: Connection
We just celebrated the Assumption of the Holy Asdvadzadzin. In our last message, I spoke about the connection between the grapes and the Blessed Mother. Even more, we cited the passage from the Gospel of St. John about the Jesus being the vine, the Father the vinedresser and we, the branches, are called to bear fruit.
In traditional churches such as the Armenian Church, it is easy to lose the connection between these celebrations and the purpose of these celebrations. Every celebration, every feast, every event, in the Armenian Church has to point to Jesus Christ. Without Christ, these stories are only a part of a history which may be interesting but bear no connection to “the vine.” In other words, they are irrelevant to the lives we lead.
This past week, the blockade in Artsakh continued. Here in Southern California hundreds of protesters took to the Los Angeles freeways, stopping traffic, demanding attention to the plight of the Armenians in the Artsakh, who are now facing another genocide. Meanwhile, the Armenian Churches celebrated the Assumption of St. Mary, with grape blessing ceremonies and people flocked to those churches to taste the fruit of the vine, without understanding the implications such as ceremony and story have on their lives.
St. Mary, who is revered as the Queen of Saints, and whose icon adorns the altars of Armenian Churches from Armenia to Los Angeles, to New Zealand and India, is an example of humanity elevating to godliness. St. Mary’s greatest action in life was that she said, “Yes” to God. “I am the servant of the Lord.” With that yes, she took on bearing Christ in this world.
The sad reality was too unnerving this past weekend and church after church offered commemorations of the Assumption and performed grape blessings without a connection to the reality that is unspeakable – a reality, Armenians have promised, “never again” and today find themselves begging others to the resolve for them.
The “Yes” that St. Mary said to the Lord is the example she lays for each of us. We read in the Luke chapter 1 that she is asked to bear Jesus. The consequences for pregnancy without marriage in those days was death by stoning. She asks, “How can this be, she has never known a man.” And the reply is, “Nothing is impossible for God.” She said Yes to God in the face of the death.
Today, the struggle in Artsakh requires extra ordinary, supernatural resolution. We know this, and yet we continue to appeal to governments that could care less about a group called Armenians. The only people who will care about this group is the Armenians and we have the power to do something. God has asked us to bear Christ, just as He asked St. Mary. We have not tried this option, if we had we would not be blocking freeways and protesting in foreign lands. The protest would take place in Azerbaijan.
In Yerevan, Zinvori Tun (the Soldiers’ Home), stands as a testament to the ugliness of war. Soldiers in the 2020 war were young children. They were killed and those who lived are in immense need of physical and psychological recovery. Our In His Shoes ministry has been supportive of these recovery efforts. Earlier this summer we visited the Home and saw first-hand the recovery effort. At the entrance of Zinvori Tun is a room which houses a khatchkar (Armenian Cross Stone). The president of the home, Haykuhi Minasyan, explained that the work they are doing for these “soldiers” is beyond human powers, and the khatchkar is placed as a reminder that their work is possible only with a prayer and God’s assistance.
This is the connection that we must receive from the Church, and if we don’t, then all of our efforts are futile and in vain. History shows us that we have to rely on our own resources and those resources accented by God are a powerhouse. Our smallest efforts are magnified with God.
This week, in the shadow of the Assumption, I’ll be sharing the connection of St. Mary’s Yes, and the grapeblessing to our real world problems. Join me, on these Armodoxy for Today sessions.
The reading today is from Luke chapter 1, the annunciation, “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. For with God nothing will be impossible.
Then Mary said, “Behold the servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Cover Photo: khatchkar at Zivori Tun