Guns & Earrings

Priest’s Message from the Nakhagoch (St. Andrew, Cupertino) 
June 1993 

The significance of the blood drive we held on Martyrs’ day was profound. In 1915 we Armenians shed blood unwillingly. Today, as a gesture of gratitude to our new home we willingly contribute back to the community. I would like to thank all those who participated in the annual blood drive. And a special thank you to Karine Manoukian who organized the weekend activities. Your blood is a tremendous weapon in our hands. It may seem we are continually asking for one thing or another. Isn’t it great that we’re able to give as well? 

As your pastor, many times I have to appeal to the general non-Armenian community for aid and assistance for various projects: be it resettlement issues; housing; welfare, etc. Through our blood drive and other community programs, we’re able to demonstrate that the Armenian community is not an isolated one. We care about the needs of the communities we inhabit and are willing to assist. 

 On April 24, we assembled at Plaza Park in San Jose where a colorful exhibit, building on the theme of Earth Day, showed the destruction of the trees in Armenia. The exhibit was seen by thousands of the city’s residents who were exposed to the harsh conditions existing in Armenia today.  Also, as part of Earth Day, some of our young ladies performed Armenian dances along with other ethnic groups. 

 The Martyrs’ Day commemoration, with the blood drive and celebration at Plaza Park, demonstrated that we are not a people living in the past – that despite all the persecution and abuse we have endured, today we live and continue to grow. I am confident the memory of our martyrs was well served. Thanks again to all of you who participated.

 On a lighter note: I wish I could tell you that I did it so that I would have a theme for an article or a topic for a sermon. That’s not why I did it. I did it for the same reason some of you wear a bracelet, a necklace, or a wig/toupee; or for the same reason you color your hair, wear designer clothes, smoke cigarettes, eat hamburgers, drive a nice car, etc. I did it as a matter of choice. 

What I did was simply get my ear pierced and place an earring in my left lobe. Sounds simple enough? I wasn’t so naive to believe that this little ornament wouldn’t cause some people discomfort. But never did I figure that there would be so much back-room discussion over such a small object. It proved one thing beyond a doubt: people certainly don’t have many problems, if a little earring can occupy so much of their concern. 

 We all hold certain stereotypes by which we look at people. A priest has his share of “baggage.” I remember how amazed a parishioner was to learn that I had gone to a Jethro Tull concert. After all, a priest shouldn’t enjoy rock & roll music, right? And when it comes to earrings, a priest shouldn’t wear one, right? 

 I have never hidden the fact that I don’t care to live up to these misdirected stereotypes we have of priests. A priest, as a servant of God, must celebrate life as the greatest gift God has given us. A priest must live with a zeal and excitement for life. He must be a listener of music, a singer of songs, an orator of poetry and a dreamer for the romantic. Life is here to be lived, not to be hidden away in the recesses of darkness. The purpose of religion is to bear witness to that celebration. 

There is a genuine beauty in life which demands us to partake and celebrate. Christ tells us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) 

Sure, life has its share of difficulties and problems, but our religion gives us an opportunity to rise above those pains. Silly thing, isn’t it? Commotion about an earring? Don’t we have real problems in our lives, in our community, in our world? Of course we do. And if someone desires to look a bit differently, act a bit uniquely, laugh a little more intensely, why stand in their way? 

 Stay well and enjoy every moment of life. 
 -Fr. Vazken 

c. 1993 Fr. Vazken Movsesian Address comments to: 

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