Roots of Armodoxy: Liberty
Today is anniversary of Independence for the United States of America. This experiment in democratic principles of equal rights, general suffrage and government by majority is almost 250 years old. It is far from perfect, but still, the consensus is to strive for the “goal” as outlined by the constitution. The Declaration of Independence, signed on this day in 1776, claims that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These words are beautifully and thoughtfully crafted at a time when independence was only a dream for a group who had escaped the tyranny and ties of the Crown. Religion exists inside of political realities. In the Declaration of Independence can be heard cries for the rights that true religion has advocated even during oppressive circumstances.
The Armenian Church has lived within monarchies, kingdoms, dictatorships, oppressive and barbaric regimes, and even through atheistic soviet society. The Gospel Message of Christ is greater than any political ideology and must maintain its integrity despite the political climate of the age.
After enjoying only a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1920, Armenia became an Independent country in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. In the last 30+ years it has had its share of trials and tribulations, and sometimes it is tempting to be critical of system that sometimes brings with it social injustice and inequity for the masses.
Today, with the celebration of Independence Day in the United States of America, we have an opportunity to reflect on true freedom and liberty. We can appeal to history to see that at the turn of the 18th century to the 19th century, that is only 30+ years in the life of the United States, the country was far from perfect, there was slavery, there were disparities among classes of people, women were not allowed to vote, and the list goes on. It’s important to cut some slack on new countries, such as Armenia, that are going through their own growing pains.
It’s also an opportunity to reflect on us and our commitment to ideals greater than ourselves. We often talk about the Armenian Church as the oldest of Christian traditions. Yes, it does trace its roots to 2000 years ago with the person of Jesus Christ, but there is another reality, that of the Genocide. When the Turks wanted to annihilate and destroy the Armenian people they went after the Church. The Armenian Church was left in shambles after the Genocide. The reality of what we have today is thanks to what brave church leaders -both clergy and lay – have put together in the last 100 years, since the Genocide.
The greatest expression of Liberty is when we use our God-given power to create. Today is a day of committing to the ideals that we all find appealing and necessary for healthy living: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We pray for America, we pray for ourselves and we pray for our Armenian Church today. Heavenly Father, bless those who bless you. Give wisdom to leaders. Keep us vigilant in our commitment to pursue that which is necessary for our lives. And keep us focused on our commitment to work for peace on earth and good will toward one another. Amen.