Tag Archive for: Church

Bible Origins

Armodoxy for Today: Bible Origins

We are in a four-day period on the Armenian Church calendar called the Fast of the Catechumens. This fast is unique to the Armenian Church. To follow on our lesson from yesterday, regarding the lack of specific scriptural readings for these four days, today we will look at the structure and make-up of the Bible.

On Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ, (Acts 2:1ff) the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the Church was born. The Apostles were the first Christian community, the first Christian Church.  They had no “Bible.” The Gospel or the “Good News” which they preached was that Christ had risen – resurrected! This was an earth-shaking experience in the lives of the Apostles, and their mission was to spread the Good News—Christ had risen, giving an opportunity for all humankind to share in this new life.  This was the first Gospel and it was transmitted orally.

The first Christians felt that Christ’s return would be imminent. In fact, throughout the first century, they were living with the expectation that the Second Coming of Christ was right around the corner. They lived their lives accordingly.  (See I Thessalonians 4:13-18.)

The Apostles spread the Gospel to various parts of the world. New Christian communities sprouted. As time went on, problems arose in the communities – daily problems – which were complicated by their expectation of an imminent end. The communities were faced with questions such as, “Should we obey the local authorities if Christ is due back any day?” Or “Is it proper for us to marry, if Christ will be returning soon?” Or, “What will happen to all those who die before Christ returns?”

To address these problems, the Apostles, now scattered throughout the known world, wrote responses to the communities, giving specific instructions on how to conduct their lives until Christ returned. Among the most popular letters were those of the apostle Paul. The books in the New Testament which follow the Gospels are the letters St Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and so on. The first of these letters (I Thessalonians) was written in the 40’s.

The Church existed without a bible. The Church had its worship services, which included partaking of the Holy Eucharist, reading psalms or prophetic literature of the Old Testament, and prayer. The letters they received such as those from the apostle Paul, were read during the gathering of the faithful, and are regarded as epistles, that is general letters to the community.

As more time went on, and Christ had not yet returned, further problems developed. For one, all the eyewitnesses to Christ’s life on Earth were passing away.  Who would covey the stories of Christ’s life to future generations? Furthermore, the communities and churches were asking about the details of Christ’s life, for example, His birth, His upbringing, whether He was baptized, and so on.  For this reason, the Gospels were written to provide the details of Jesus’ life. Again, the point must be made that they were written for the sole use of the Christian Church.  The Church demanded it, and, therefore, they were produced.

The Gospels according to St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, including the Book of Acts, (called the synoptic gospels) were written between 60 and 80 AD.  The Gospel according to St. John was written sometime later. Although these books were written, they had not yet been put into the form of a “Bible.”

There were other books about Jesus’ life as well.  For example, there was the Gospel of Thomas, or, as the author called his book, The Secret Words Which Jesus the Living Spoke and Jude Thomas Wrote Down. It might be thought of as a more complete Sermon on the Mount. There was also a book called the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ.  It is one of the more fascinating books of what is called the New Testament “apocrypha” or “hidden books.” One story relates how Jesus, while still in the cradle looks up at his mother and says, “Mary, I am the Son of God.” Another story is generated from the account of the anointing of Jesus by Mary Magdalene.  The story claims an old lady kept Jesus’ navel string in an alabaster box of old oil of spikenard.  It was out of this box that Mary took the oil to anoint Jesus. Still another story relates how Jesus and some other young boys were molding clay figures of animals. Upon Jesus’ command, the clay figures begin to walk and fly.  The entire book is filled with miraculous stories of this nature. This was one of many books that were circulating in the 2nd Century.

It was the Church that decided which books would be considered “The Bible,” designating them as scriptural canon. All of the books that are in The Bible as we know it today are in a list compiled in the 2nd century, except the Book of Revelation. It was in 419 AD, at the Regional Council held in Carthage that the Book of Revelation was accepted as being canonical. So until the 5th century the Church existed without the Bible that we know.

Tomorrow, we will journey further through the Fast of the Catechumens to learn closer the beauty of Christ and the Christian faith.

Let us pray, a prayer for Catechumens, from the Roman Catholic tradition, “We thank you for these catechumens whom you have called. Strengthen them in faith, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Keep them clean of heart and make them grow in virtue, that they may be worthy to receive baptism and enter into the holy mysteries. Amen.”

No Bible Today

Armodoxy for Today: No Bible Today

Today begins the Fast of the Catechumens. This four day period is unique to the Armenian Church. It takes place a few weeks before Great Lent and offers an opportunity for purification, by restricting diet to bread and salt.

There are no Biblical passages assigned to the four days of the Fast of the Catechumens. The Lectionary is a list or book of portions of the Bible appointed to be read at church services. Every day of the year is assigned with Bible readings that pertain to that day. For instance, the lectionary for Easter includes a narrative of the Resurrection from the Gospel accounts. These four days of the Fast of the Catechumens are the only days with no lectionary assignment, which begs the question, how can you have a Church without a Bible? Actually, the more correct question is, how can you have a Bible without a Church?

We have been conditioned to believe that the Bible is a book that was handed down to us by God. With the Protestant reformation came the proclamation that the Bible alone is the final authority on all matters of belief and practice. And so, hearing that the Church is the seat of authority in Christianity seems against religious conventions for many outside Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions.

The truth is that the Bible was not given to us by God. God gave us something much greater than the Bible. He gave is His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Even Christ, did not give us the Bible. He did not write anything that we know of, nor did he hand down a book to his disciples. More important, He gave us His Body, the Holy Church and he said with his words which cannot lie “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18). It was in turn that the Church produced the Bible, and that Bible was meant as a tool for the Church to evangelize and teach the catechumens.  (A catechumen is a recent convert to Christianity who is under instruction before baptism.)

A quick look at history will lend more to the puzzle of which came first, the Bible or the Church? At the time of Jesus there was no Bible. At his Crucifixion, there was no Bible. At his Resurrection, there was no Bible. The Bible as we know it was finalized by the Church, with the different books in the 5th century. For five centuries, the Church existed and led the Christian community without a Bible.

The authority of the Church is singular: Jesus Christ. The ascription of “Apostolic” to the Holy Church means that it is in direct succession with the Holy Apostles who were commissioned by Jesus Christ himself. The Holy Bible has a unique place in the Armenian Church and referred to as the “Breath of God.”

These next few days, we will journey through the Fast of the Catechumens to learn closer the beauty of the Christ and the Christian faith.

We pray, a prayer of the Catechumens, “O Lord our God, who dwells in the heavens, and looks down upon all Your works, look down upon Your servants, the catechumens, and us, who have bowed our necks before You, and grant us a light yoke. Amen.”

Peter & Paul

Armodoxy for Today: Peter & Paul

During this week, the Church commemorates a group of leaders of the early Christian movement, the Church. The Apostles Peter and Paul are remembered on the same day because they shared in a ministry at Rome, where they were also martyred for their faith.

Peter was one of the disciples chosen by Christ to become a “fisher of men.” He was a member of the original twelve disciples and part of the entourage that accompanied Jesus from town to town. Paul, on the other hand, was a persecutor of Christians in the post-Resurrection era but converted to Christianity following an encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. Their stories are documented in scripture, in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. This is a continuation of the Gospel of St. Luke. Think of it as a part 2 of the Gospel, where the first part followed Jesus from Birth to Resurrection, the Book of Acts is the story of the post-Resurrection trial of the early Church. Their story is further documented in the epistles and letters which make up the bulk of the New Testament. Most notably, St. Paul wrote letters to the different spawning and growing Christian communities in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica and elsewhere. In his writings he encourages the believes of the new religion, to stay faithful to the person of Jesus Christ, and therefore, to God. He uses stories of his own trials and tribulations, his imprisonment, and his salvation through Christ, to encourage the members of these young communities.

The Epistles of St. Paul are some of the oldest Christian writings, giving us a unique view of the early Church community. By remembering the Apostles Peter and Paul we are called to look at the difference and similarities of these two giants of the Christian Church. They come to Christ in two different ways, they served in the same arena and in the end, they left an indelible mark on the history of the Christian Church and therefore Western Civilization. Their lives and ministries intersected at the point of suffering for the Kingdom. Both were persecuted for their faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

Where is our faith today? As we take the Advent Journey, we should examine the uncomfortable moments in our life, where faith in God might be mocked or challenged? How do we deal with those challenges?

We pray today, Psalm 63, O God, you are my God, early will I seek You, my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your Power and Your Glory. Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus, I will bless You while I live, I will lift up my hands in Your name.

Change Searched

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #758: As Google announces its search results, and change followed fear from 2021 to 2022. Christ and his relevance 2000 years ago and today: a lesson for the Church today.
Google Video on 2022
Google Searches for 2022
Google Video for 2021
IHS Toy Drive
Diocese Glendale Building
The Box & Daily Message
Element Band Christmas Album
Jethro Tull Christmas Album
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net
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Coinciding Scriptures

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #750: When scripture coincides with life events of a priest, a signal is sent to focus on the mission of Christ, the Church and the minister of the Gospel. A look at Luke 4:16-22: The mystery of importance and centrality for life. What about the “brokenhearted,” why are they overlooked, or just a clerical error? Favorite vs. Importance.
Daily Messages on Epostle.net
On the “Closed Curtain” – Bp. Daniel Findikian
Occam’s Razor
Richard Hagopian
Best of Armenian Folk Music
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net
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Posture Class

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #742: What can we learn from posture class as it relates to the Church. Identifying the nave of the church and the boat ride to heaven. Relevance as measured the posture of the congregants. The “mystery of the slump” is here too. A model church experience.
In His Shoes
Harry Belefonte
Cover: ShareFaith Media
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org and Epostle.net
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Narrative of Relevance

Next Step with Fr. Vazken: In this edition – An explosion in Yerevan rocks the city and its people, and then stops shaking. Notre Dame burns while Etchmiadzin struggles with renovation. The search for relevance is beyond-the-beyond. Planting money and the camp meeting. A revelation at Grapeblessing leads to the strength found in Armodoxy and Epostle.
Yerevan explosion
I found the pearl
John 15 – the Vine and Grapes
Grapeblessing explained
Ararat 1915 by Michael Ganian
Cover: ShareFaith Media
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org and Epostle.net
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Holy Spirit Building the Church

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #730: From the words of St. Paul (Ephesians 4) to the vision of Bishop Daniel Findikyan, “Building Up the Body of Christ” is the next step in direction and opportunity for the Armenian Christian experience. Pentecost and the witness of the Holy Spirit building Christ’s Holy Church: Direction for the Christian Church. Spiritual music from the Monastery of Holy Geghart. “Going back to move forward” – a quick look at Luke 2.
Building Up the Body of Christ by Bishop Daniel Findikyan (text & audio)
Second Palm Sunday Sermon
Unleashing his vision (2018 Interview with Bp. Daniel)
Story of Pentecost
Cover: Ruins of Havuts Monastery Armenia at Sunset, V. Kulkov
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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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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Next Step #726 with Fr. Vazken: Bubbles and more bubbles on Cinco de Mayo. Reflections/meditation on putting together a picnic, a diocese and life. An encore presentation of “Ani Bubbles.”
1927 – Making a Picnic, a Diocese and Life – Fr. Vazken
Building the Body of Christ – Bishop Daniel
Stage of Life in Hinduism 
William Saroyan on the Armenian 
Cinco de Mayo
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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