Armodoxy for Today: Structure
The Armenian Church has unique readings for every day of the calendar year. These are daily prescriptions for the soul and mind, to be taken with plenty of fresh air and fresh thoughts. The fact that the Nativity stories of Jesus Christ as prescribed after the Theophany, and not before, is enough to tell us that Scripture is not meant as a history lesson, or a chronology, rather it is a means of bringing structure to our lives.
Structures are built upon foundations that are multifaceted. The fresh air blows and you start understanding in new ways that your spiritual side is living, it is evolving, it is being challenged and at the same time it is challenging to you.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and Mary, his mother, “Wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6) A manger is a feeding trough for animals. It is small enough for an infant baby and secure enough to make for a cozy crib. The fact that mangers are found in barns and stables, makes us believe that the first witnesses to the Birth of Christ were barn animals. These assumptions and deductions are nice ways of developing a story and contributing to a history. These are only one of the foundations found in Christianity, but not enough to sustain the structure of our spiritual life. The structure will crumble on only this foundation.
The fresh air that blows gives us fresh thoughts. For most, January 6 is referred to as “Armenian Christmas” because the Armenians are the only ones who continue to celebrate the Nativity on January 6. A spiritual life cannot be sustained on this alone. As we learned during our meditations throughout the Advent season, the feast of Theophany is an overwhelming, life-changing and life-building event. It is the acknowledgment that the God of the Universe is revealed to humanity. Thus, the foundation for our spiritual life is much deeper and sounder than a birthday celebration.
The understanding of Theophany juxtaposed next to the narrative of “no-vacancy at the inn,” now challenges us to think beyond the historical facts. Where are the mangers located in our lives? Where can God rest comfortably and cozily? Can our lives – our hearts – function as mangers and if so, how do we anticipate God growing with our lives? What kind (manner) of power would we possess? In a personal manger, where God is snuggly and cozily situated can there be room for hatred, intolerance, bigotry or racism? And thus the hear Armodoxy difference, it’s our responsibility to prepare the room, the manger, the heart, so that God can reside within.
Let us pray, O Lord our God, you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Today, I invite you into the coziest spot in my life, dwell in me as you dwelt in the saints and keep me from temptation so I may be delivered from evil. Amen.
Music: “Purpose” by Jonny Easton