Tag Archive for: Body of Christ

Doing Business

Armodoxy for Today: The Business Model

Many clergymen cringe when they hear someone mention the word business next to their church. It is insulting, they think, to refer to the church as a business. Understandably, if the Church is ordained by Christ, and is the dwelling place of God, it should not be tainted with models from the college MBA textbook. God should take care of His Church and speaking of a business model which brings tangible returns can be seen as anathema.

When I was growing up, as I was contemplating the priesthood, I had a conversation with my parish priest, Fr. Krikor Hairabedian (of blessed memory), who shared his understanding of the Church. He said, if Christ is the head of the Church, then he is the “boss.” Why would I worry about any of the tangible matters? God will take care of His Church. And Fr. Krikor proceeded to tell me how throughout his own lifetime, God had always taken care of every one of his needs. Needless to say, Fr. Krikor was a man of great faith. Now, 40+ years into my priesthood, I often think about that conversation with the good priest and can attest the same with my experience in the Church. “The Lord is my shepherd,” says the psalmist (23) and follows up with a declaration, “I shall not want.”

There is a mystical dimension to the Church that overlaps the material Body of Christ. And certainly, it is the formula by which the Armenian Church has “worked” for the last 2000 years. God is in charge, and everything falls into place and is taken care of.

The material Body of Christ is what functions on Earth. It is the legs, the arms, the mouth, the voice of Christ in the here and now. As such, it needs material support. The word “business” refers to the actual mechanism by which the work gets accomplished. Yes, we shy away and cringe at the statement that the church is a business, but in fact it is. It’s goal, however, is not the physical wealth, but the spiritual soul that resides in every human being.

A business – say a restaurant, insurance company or a department store – has as its ultimate goal the creation of more wealth. It has an obligation to its investors to make a profit, however, along the way, it accomplishes other tasks, which we can call overt goals: the restaurant feeds hungry people, the insurance company provides security for families, and the department store furnishes clothing and goods for people. The Church follows the same model but the ultimate goals and the overt goals are swapped. That is the Church has as its goal the salvation of the soul and accomplishes this by the teaching the message of love that Christ demonstrated. Along the way, needs to take care of electric bills, property maintenance and pay for supplies. Calling it a business does not discount the participation of God, it merely establishes an order, a system by which things get accomplished.

During this period, between Ascension and the Pentecost in the post-Resurrection era, the Church was being formed. The order and the systems were being put into place to accomplish the greatest work of all, functioning as the Body of Christ.

We conclude today and these thoughts with the reading of the first Psalm:

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1)

Non Denominational Closeup

Non-Denominational Closeup

As a kid I remember a commercial on television featuring a nice looking building. A voice asks, “Nice building, huh?” Then the camera zooms in to reveal cracks and chips that were painted over, and without skipping a beat the voice would divulge the truth, “…until you look up closely!” The body of the voice would then come on screen to plug some kind of texture coating that hid the scars of the building.

Usually things look nice from a distance, but upon a closer look the cracks start showing. Religion is also included in this rule. We will stick our discussion today to the Christian religion. One of the popular designations of Christianity that needs to receive a closer look is the term “non-denomination.” It is fairly popular these days because it is presented as a free-spirited version of Christianity. “Generally, non-denominational churches believe that the Bible is the sole authority that dictates every aspect of the church, with scripture shaping their beliefs and philosophies. They are also self-governing entities, with elders often overseeing the church’s organization, structure, and traditions.” (source: https://christianministryedu.org)

Before we take a closer look, let’s remember the course we have travelled to get to this point in Armodoxy for Today. We went through a period of preparation called Lent. We celebrated the Resurrection, and then continued with the formation of the first Christian communities. Currently we are in that period between Ascension (40 days after Easter) and the Pentecost (50 days after Easter).

There is a reason the Church asks you to take this journey. The Bible does not exist as a Book unto itself. When Jesus was crucified, there was no Bible. When he resurrected, there was no Bible. When he ascended, there was no Bible. In fact, there was no formal Bible for a few hundred years! However, at all those same events – crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and on into the formation of the communities –there was the Church!

Those who claim to be non-denominational say that they accept the Bible as the sole authority in matters of their faith. By their own admission, they have exclude themselves from a major part of Christian history and development.

God’s greatest gift to humanity was not the Bible. Much more important than the Bible is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God the Father. Jesus’ gift to humanity was not the Bible, rather it was his holy and precious Body, namely the Church. And it was the Church that compiled the books together to give us what we refer to as the Bible.

The Armenian word for Bible is Asdvadzashunch, which literally means the Breath of God. The Armenian Church refers to it as the “breath” because it guides us as spirit, not as a book of laws and regulations, along the paths of Truth, Hope and Love.

I understand the appeal of non-denominationalism, especially in our world today when everyone is given a platform to interpret, or even worse, to create a derivative of Christ’s holy and sacred message. In other words, within the non-denominational category, you can have a few million or billion derivatives of the faith. This is why when we speak of the Armenian Apostolic Church, we are grounding ourselves in a Tradition that dates back to the time of Christ, that is, before there was a Bible. We are not a Bible-centered community of believers, we are Christ centered.  Non-denominationalism is very nice looking, and appealing, but when you look up closely you notice the chips and the holes. Jesus set up his Church and it is guided by the Holy Spirit. In his unfailing words Jesus says, “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18)

We conclude with a prayer from the Holy Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church: We thank you, Father almighty, who did prepare for us the holy Church as a haven, a temple of holiness, where the name of the holy Trinity is glorified. Alleluia. We thank you, Spirit of Truth, who have renewed the holy Church. Keep her without blemish through the faith in the Trinity forevermore. Amen.

On the Georgian Clergy Assaults

Next Step #321 – July 31, 2014

In the wake of the attack on the Armenian Church by Georgians, Fr. Vazken goes through the process of applying Armodoxy to acts of violence. This is not theoretical religious thought, in fact, he shares a recent episode of harassment at the Georgian border and moves the listener to the idea of pro-acting with members of the Faith community, to make the Body of Christ a real solution for peace. This episode builds on the last few Next Steps and promises to continue in the weeks to come.
Georgian Attack on Armenian Church
Song: “Peace” by Ravi Coltrane
I found the Pearl
i-ACT – Darfur Activism
Avon Walk
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Now on Stitcher Radio! 

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The Human Condition: Sex, Pentecost & the Church

Next Step #313 – June 5, 2014

From the death of a young girl on the streets of Glendale, opens a discussion about domestic violence and personal sexual imaging. The Pentecost – the birth of the Christian Church – opens a candid discussion about marketing and selling the Body of Christ. Keeping the message of Christ and salvation real and accelerating the revolution. Continuing on the road to Ascension. Themes in this episode may be disturbing to listeners.
Dr. Maya Angelou: “It’s Sacred: Church
One More Important part of Sex
Fr. Vazken’s Blog: http://www.armodoxy.blogspot.com/
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Now on Stitcher Radio! 

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New Means for a Bold Mission

Next Step #124 – October 21, 2010

Just back from the New Media Expo in Las Vegas with ideas and resources for Epostle.net expansion. How new media becomes a tool for evangelization. The Mission of Christ as expressed in Luke 4:14-21 becomes the Mission of the Church – the Body of Christ. Exploring the mission beyond the literal expression and finding the power of Love. Also: Druids and religious charity. Manfred Mann turns 70.
Song by Chingiz Sadykhov, Caucasian Medley;
Ani’s Bubbles: “Smiles”;
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net

Pay Phone Bank at the Mandalay Bay, LV
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50 Ways to Leave Your Nightmares

Next Step #103 – May 27, 2010

A look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit in defining the Body of Christ – the Holy Church. It’s Pentecost: Happy Birthday to the Church! Gifts of Grace: Technology and the Armenian Church and the Cupertino years. Sacrificing for others, in an expression of forgiveness. Memorial Day – some die, others work, but all give. It’s the sacrifice that makes us who we are.
Book Review: Muriel Mirak-Weissbach “Through the Wall of Fire: Armenia—Iraq—Palestine From Wrath to Reconciliation”;
Ani’s Bubbles: Forgiveness;
Music: “Amen Hayr Sourp” Dudukner Quartet
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net

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