Tag Archive for: Ascension

Ethnic Churches at Pentecost

Next Step #775 – May 25, 2023 -The other side of Ascension: Jesus, his love for his friends and letting go. Marriage and letting go of children: establishing their own and catching the wind to fly. The Ethnic Churches: understanding in the West and obstacles to manifesting the Orthodox Tradition. Daring to contemplate Jesus’ humanity: Walking in the shoes of Jesus? Jerusalem and the fallacy of national churches: Simply find the Agent of Process! Ultimately: Quest of Peace, coming up.
Last Temptation by Kazantsakis
Fr. Vazken on Last Temptation of Christ
Daryll Black, I am not a Black Christian
Fr. Vazken on Antiochian Orthodox Church
Building Up the Body of Christ, Bishop Daniel
Jerusalem, Armenian Quarter News
Tina Turner passes away 
Tina Turner
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://Epostle.net
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Changing over to Apostle

Armodoxy for Today: Changing over to Apostle

There comes a time when children want to leave the nest and part of the parenting skill is finding the opportunity to encourage that move. Sometimes it requires a push, so the young one can catch the wind as they spread their wings. In preparation for their departure parents have given their children the necessary upbringing and education. Of course, the education process continues through life activities and events.

When Jesus stood at the Sea of Galilee and called his disciples to follow him, his invitation was simple: Come. After his Resurrection, at the Ascension, the command was just as simple: Go. He first invited them to come, follow and learn. At the Ascension he said it is time for them to go, teach others.  It is precisely at the Ascension that the Disciples (students) become Apostles (those who are sent = missionaries).

The Apostles received the tools with which to do their missionary work on the day of Pentecost, hokegalust in Armenian, which means “Coming of the Spirit.” As we read yesterday in the Book of Acts 2, the Holy Spirit gave the gift of utterance to the Apostles.

The gift of God is communication. We are not created as robots, but entities with the ability to process thought and communicate it to others. Is it any wonder that the human being is the only member of the animal kingdom that procreates, makes love, facing each other. In the most intimate of positions, the human being has the opportunity to communicate at all levels with thoughts, speech, feel and touch. Language is the skill to communicate with others.

Armodoxy rejects the idea that at Pentecost the gift of utterance was a secret sound-code that was understood by only some. Scripture says that the people who heard the Apostles talking said, “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? … we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” The sounds that people heard were languages, not non-sensical words or sounds. The gifts of God are always practical; they have a function.

Words express our thoughts and teach, that is, they pass along knowledge. The object of those teaching-lessons is harmony among people. The idea that God would give people confusing sounds, or would want to confound people’s attempts to understand one another is foreign to Christian thought. The gift of the Holy Spirit brings us together, not draws us apart.

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. With the Holy Spirit, the Church would now move to continue the work of Christ. The Church is community. There is no such thing as one-Christian. Christianity is about working together, so that “Thy Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven” (from the Lord’s Prayer).

Christ taught his Disciples. When the time came and the Disciples were ready to continue the mission, what we may refer to as “spreading their wings,” Christ commissioned them to “Go” and share what they had learned, ensuring the continuity of his message in perpetuity.

The perfect vehicle for this is the group of people, that is community, that reach out to one another with hands, legs and voice, to find strength and work for what Jesus sought: Peace on Earth, good will toward one another.

The Church is one when it reflects this harmony in its teachings.

Today’s prayer will come from the last verses of Acts, chapter 2, the first Christian community after Pentecost:

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (NKJV)

Ascension from the Other Side

Armodoxy for Today: Ascension from the Other Side

The Ascension story ends with Jesus telling us, “I am with you to the close of the ages,” (Matt. 28:20) in other words and in all practical terms, he is with us forever! We all feel comforted by these words, because in Jesus, we have come to know him – we have  broken bread with him, laughed with him, cried with him, he has cared for us, healed us, tended to our problems and loneliness and supported us during our most vulnerable times – this same Jesus, the Son of God, promises, and therefore he cannot fail us, that he is always with us. We certainly receive much assurance and comfort from a pronouncement such as that when we think that we might have left and forgotten us. This is a nice reading from the point of view of the Apostles. But what about the point of view of Jesus Christ? Do we consider that it was difficult for Jesus to leave us too, and what assurance does he have from us? After all, he was on the other side of the table, with his friends. True, he tended to them, but he laughed and cried with them and took on some of the greatest challenges of life together. What was it like for Jesus, leaving his children? Would they stick to the game plan? Would they take on life the way he thought they would? Would they be safe? Would they stay faithful to all they had learned?

Perhaps the closest parallel question might be asked of the parent whose child leaves home to start his or her life? You’ve cared for your child all of their life. You have cared for them, cleaned their wounds, help them through the difficulties of childhood and adolescence and offered unconditional love, been a friend in their loneliness and let them lean on you during their most challenging moments. But there comes a time when you have to break off. It is the order of life. Every beginning has an end. Unless a mother bird backs off and allows her young to fall out of the nest, it will never spread its wings to fly. And yes, there is chance that the young bird will fall out of the tree onto the ground, but it will never test its capability of flight until it tries to catch the wind.

A parent who gives their child in marriage may worry, will my child make it? Or, a parent may believe that their upbringing, the foundation they laid, will give the child the ground from where the family tree will grow and blossom. I suspect, this the feeling Jesus had when he left his children on that Ascension Day, knowing that they were going to meet all kinds of challenges in life, but confident that his prayers, his love and his connection to God gave his children the necessary tools to take on life. “Lo, I am with you to the end of the ages.” Of course. We have no doubt. And neither did he.

Today, I share a prayer by Yeretsgin Susan on the occasion of our son’s wedding:

Lord, we thank You for Your heavenly benediction in joining our son, and now daughter, in the sacrament of marriage.

Bless and enrich their marriage in love, companionship, mutual support, oneness of heart and progress in faith and life.

Protect their holy wedlock from sin, evil and danger. Foster between them the spirit of understanding, the spirit of forgiveness, and the spirit of peace, that no resentment, quarrel or other problems may cause them to stumble and fall.

Remind them of the lessons they have learned from their loved ones, especially those who have returned to their Maker. Grant them to see their own faults and to not judge each other. Keep their bond of love always new.  May they feel Your presence in their lives through the joy of marriage, that with one heart they may praise and glorify You forever.

Father, son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Cover: Water color, The Ascension from the Jesus  POV

The Commision Here

Armodoxy for Today: The Commission Here

The “Great Commission” as it is called, is the direction Jesus gives to his Apostles just before he ascends to heaven.

Saint Matthew records the event, remembering that only eleven of the original twelve disciples (less Judas) made up the disciple’s group. We read:

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Jesus commissions the eleven to continue his work, beyond the world they were accustomed to. Here, the Christian message is projected to the world, to all nations. There is no exception. There is no “favored nation status” for any one or any country. It is a command that his message is universal. Furthermore, he sets baptism as the entry point for the community and emphasizes that his commandments are the fuel of the Christianity. His commandments were summarized, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:36-40) And finally, he gives his unfailing word that he is with us forever. His love and care is unwavering and is ours beyond time restrictions.

Yesterday we read the narrative of the Ascension, today we read the actions, the descriptor of what Jesus expected from his church. It is important to note that this commission is not given to all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem or anywhere else. He does not include the rest of the students, often referred to as the 72 disciples, in this group. No, it is directed to a very special group that will soon become the nucleus of the Christian Church.

When we refer to the Apostolic Church, we are talking about the Church that links itself to this event. Each of those eleven (and later 12 with the addition of Mathias) went to different areas in the world. Peter went to Rome, Thomas to India, Matthew to Ethiopia, Jude Thaddeus to Armenia, just to mention four of them. Each of carrying out the commission. They ended in hostile areas, and all of them, except for John, were martyred. John, ended up exiled on an Island.

We will explore their individual stories, but for our discussion today, it is important to note the Apostolic Commission. It is the foundation of the Christian Church. And as we approach the feast of Pentecost, we will see how this small band of diverse people, who were considered appalling by the system, whose leader was sentenced to death, became the ones who carried the most influential and important message of all human history.

The Ascension is Jesus ascending to heaven. Yesterday I asked you to look not up to heaven, but all around. Today, with Jesus’ message and commission to the disciples we start understanding that the  direction of life is in the here and now. The mission of the Apostolic Church was and is to bring people to the message of love that Jesus taught. And yes, in that love we find that Jesus is with us now and forever.

Cover: Hills surrounding Datev Monastery

Heaven Up?

Today is Ascension Day. It is 40 days after Easter. In Armenian, it is called “hambartzoum.”

We read about the event in the first chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. The author is the Evangelist, St. Luke, whose Gospel narrates Jesus’ earthly life from his Conception to his Resurrection. In the second “volume” he begins with the Ascension, and thus, he chronicles the development of the Christian Church.

St. Luke writes, “In my former book… I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

“…After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

And so begins the journey of the post-Resurrection community. It begins with them looking up! Up to the sky! And thus begins the notion that heaven is somewhere in the sky, in an upwardly direction, not necessarily North, but up.

Much of our concept of heaven comes from this particular passage. Most of us are familiar with a world map or a globe you find in geography classrooms. At the top is the Arctic circle and at the bottom is Antarctica. If you’ve even seen this map flipped, you know how odd it seems. Its oddity is in the fact that we are not familiar with the image.  Likewise, the concept of heaven is engrained in us from images that have been projected in movies, stories, and even in Scripture.

Heaven is not only up, it is also around, within and without. St. Luke marks this occasion, “When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ’See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Today is Ascension. The disciples were looking up. Where are we looking?

Tomorrow we look further in that direction.


Anticipation differs slightly from expectation. Yesterday we spoke about expectation and the disappointment that arise when expectations aren’t met.

The Disciples of Jesus and the early Christian community anticipated an imminent end to the world. In that anticipation they saw Jesus returning in full power to set things right and to restore “order.” The disappointment they felt when things didn’t turn out as they wanted was accented because their anticipation had moved to expectation.

You can anticipate as much as you want and will not be disappointed until you expect a result. You are watching a movie or reading a book, and as you are pass the midway point you anticipate the ending. If it turns out differently, “disappointment” is not the word to use to describe the twist. However, when you expect an ending, disappointment is what you feel when it turns out differently.

This may seem like a minor or petty point but the difference between anticipation and expectation is not inconsequential. Expectation implies control. You may anticipate something or event, but when you expect that same event, you are expressing a wish that is connected to your own means.

This Thursday we celebrate the Ascension of Lord Jesus Christ. On the eve of the Ascension Jesus asks the Disciples anticipate the Promise of the Father, instead, they expect something else…

We read in the Acts of the Apostles, “Being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1)

Jesus calls us to a life of trusting God, trusting so much that we can anticipate being blessed in His presence. Trust God and anticipate His goodness. On this eve of Ascension, you have a chance to examine your feeling and if need be, catch yourself, to stay in the joy of anticipation. All things happen in God’s time. Listen to God talking and read not into it your desires.

Don’t Look Up

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #729: Ascension… The story of Christ continues through the Church with a strict command to NOT look up. The work of the Church is around us. The shooting in Texas, the death of children, and conditions of the world… where then to look? Beyond the “whys” is the “where” – making sense of faith on the street and not in the books… The Next Step is a step toward Armodoxy.
Ascension according to Acts
Texas Shooting
NPR: What now?
The Sound of Santour
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Ascension Relevance

Next Step #624: Ascension day: Thoughts of Ascent for Christ: Leading and pushing us to heights. Answering the “Where is God?” question, not as an apology but in real terms: Armodoxy at its best – one you won’t want to miss. When a pastor loses faith and a look at the broken heart. Ascension as a direction for every follower of Christ: He is with us to the end of time! (Matthew 28:20)
NPR – How The Pandemic Has Changed Worship
Architects of Denial
Armenian Christianity Today on Ascension
In His Shoes
Dorothy leaves Oz; Broken Heart
Cover photo: Pixnio, public domain
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Numbers of Ascension

Next Step #573: Ascension Day 40 days after Easter – the Great Commission. Why 40 days? Authority in Heaven & Earth: Mystical traditions of numbers. Why did “some of them [disciples] doubted”? More on randomness and order, slots included. An Ascension day tradition: vijag and what it means to us today. Toumanian’s insight on destiny and superstition. Ascencia honors In His Shoes as “Chef of the Year”: Inspiring to move from victim to victor. And much more.
“Vijag” by Zulal
Ascencia Chef of the Year Award
Ascension Message
Great Commission
Hovhaness Toumanian Poems
28 Known Galaxies
Nick of Time by Richard Matheson
Cover: Lady at Sevan 2014
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Poitier’s Priest

Next Step #468: The Ascension Edition: About the celebration of fortune telling – The tragedy of Anoush and Fr. Boyle’s alternative. Sidney Poitier’s Priest: Reflections from Portland’s Armenian Church. Chris Cornell’s voice silenced. Jesus on Ascension day: the promise of eternity of Love. Aqua Velva as a refresher on a hot day. 100th Anniversary for JFK and Perry Mason.
Hamparnalov by Seminaries at Vazgenian Seminary at Lake Sevan
Ascension of Christ
Anoush Opera
Fr. Greg Boyle Commencement Speech at Notre Dame 2017
Sidney Poitier “Measure of a Man
Chris Cornell’s Wife to him
Pope / Trump Gift Exchange
Lilies of the Field
Cover: Grotto Altar, Portland, Oregon
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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