Tag Archive for: fear

Advent 34-50: Worry

Advent Day 34 of 50: Worry

Jesus’ statement regarding worry seems childish, naïve and, well, unrealistic. What does it mean don’t worry about tomorrow? In a world that’s defined by long-term strategies, investments, and future payouts, the idea of living for today is absurd. With homelessness on the rise in every major metropolitan city, the idea of not worrying about what to eat, drink or clothing seems to contribute to the ever-growing problem.

At the beginning of this Advent journey, I suggested that you keep a journal of your travel toward Theophany. Reflect on the earlier teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. This statement on trusting our Heavenly Father is merely the logical follow up and conclusion to what Jesus taught earlier. Yes, if God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field which today are and tomorrow are gone, how much more will he take care of you?

But there is more to this than just not worrying. Anxiety, and the fear that causes it, are the opposites of faith. Fear is the biggest obstacle to your living a productive life. Fear is the opposite of faith. If you have faith you have trust. If you have trust then you diminish the power of anxiety because you completely submit to God. Of course, this all comes together when applied on the foundation established by Jesus earlier in the Sermon on the Mount. For instance, understanding that true treasures are not those on earth or discovering the true blessing in humility, these are the foundations upon which you escape the worry and the fear of this world.

Trusting God means to completely submit to His will. It means to allow God to be Father and for you to be His child. It means to enjoy the life that He gives you, to fly with the birds and to be clothed like the lilies of the field. Remember, in the old covenant God was known as Lord, but Jesus set up a new relationship, unlike any other, so that we dare to call God, “Father.” And not only my Father or your Father, but Our Father who art in heaven… Believe He is our Father. He takes care of every single part and aspect of the universe.

Certainly, you will always have fears and apprehensions of tomorrow, but you need to diminish them and the only way, the only cure for that is faith. To strengthen your faith, to really look at the examples that He gives us, look also at all of the examples that are plainly around you. Alongside the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields are the simple smiles of your children, the warm embraces of your loved ones, the monumental signs of the mountains, the crashing waves, the moon and stars, each of them telling you, as Albert Einstein says, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Life has not haphazardly been caused by an accident. God loves us and takes care of us.

Today we pray Psalm 37 (vs 3-5), Trust in the Lord, and do good, dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Amen

Cover: Envato Elements


Armodoxy for Today: Bidirectional

The shoreline is always safer than the waters that carry the boat beyond the horizon, unless, of course, the shore is susceptible to erosion, tide wave, or the squabble of men in war. Granted, there are safe and dangerous conditions connected to every decision we make.

The Christian is called to a life of productivity, using their talents to the best of their ability. This direction forward can be stifled by fears brought upon by past experiences. Theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard writes, “Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward.”

The gentle balance between learning from the past, and living for the day is Jesus’ message, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34) Today’s one minute in standard time.

We pray from the Armenian Book of Hours, the morning prayer, We thank You, O Lord our God, who granted us restful sleep in peace. And being awakened, caused us to worship Your awesome and glorified holy name. Grant us to pass the remainder of the day in peace. Living our lives with pure behavior in this world, may we reach the peaceful haven in eternal life. Amen.

Church Born of Fear

Stories from the Body then and now…

According to Holy Scripture, the first witnesses to the Empty Tomb of Christ, “Fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16) Fear, was the first expression of the post-Resurrection Church, and it was that fear that turned into Faith, the Faith of the Christian Church.

Having just celebrated Easter – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – we find ourselves in the period time (from Easter to Pentecost) dedicated to the birth and growth of the Church. The Church is not an accessory or an after-thought to Christianity. Contrary to the popular understanding of Christianity, it was the Church – the Body of Christ – which transferred the stories of Jesus to us. That is, everything we know about Jesus Christ we have received via the Church. You may hear popular formula of reading the Bible and therefore understanding Jesus, but in fact, Jesus gave us the gift of His Body the Church. Yes, “God so loved the world that He gave his Only Begotten Son” (John 3:16), and in turn, Jesus so loved us that he gave, established his Church so that we should not orphaned. (John 14-17)

According to Jesus, the Church is established and built on the proclamation of Christ’s divinity. In the 16th chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

That “rock” is the proclamation made by Peter, that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. Upon this proclamation the Church is built. And as we see, in the Apostolic era, that is, days after the Resurrection, there was no Bible, but there definitely was a Church. It was “raw” Church built on the gospel message that Jesus has risen. The Armenian Apostolic Church is a continuation of that original Church. The fear the Disciples experienced at the Empty Tomb was transformed into Faith through Christ. It is the same transformation of fear to Faith that the Armenian Church has witnessed as its people survived and flourished against all the odds.

As we look at the early post-Resurrection Church, we are reminded of the necessity of the Church for a complete celebration of the Christian faith, and that the cornerstone of that Church is the proclamation that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.

We pray, O Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, as we celebrate your glorious Resurrection at this Easter time, may we be worthy to be members of your Holy Church, your sacred body, to be your hands, legs and mouth here on Earth. Dispel the fears and gloom that consumes our lives by helping us find the Faith that others have found throughout the centuries, so that we may better serve humanity and in so doing, serve you and your Holy Body. Amen.

Lenten Journey Day 32 – Trust

Lenten Recipe
Recipe #32 – Olivada

Lenten Journey Day 32 – Trust

Our lives are built upon trust. Trust and faith are what give our lives stability. Trust and faith come from experience, that is, they are based on our own personal experiences and history. For instance, we trust that when the light turns green for us, the on-coming traffic has a red light. This trust is built on our experience of the thousands of traffic lights we have breezed through, with the full confidence that the opposite traffic is stopped. If we did not have this type of trust, we would live in fear and suspicion. We would stop at every signal we came to, uncertain what to expect.

If we think a bit deeper about our habits on approach to the traffic light, we trust on multiple levels. We trust the equipments – the electronics, the switches and the light bulbs themselves. We also trust the programmers who have set the time switches for the red and green lights. We can safely say that we believe that the programmer is a trustworthy person, that is, someone who will not fool us by giving us a green light and a green light for the opposite street. Our trust, makes the programmer (or builder of the signal) a person who is worthy of our trust.

This type of trust we learn. It is a trust built on experience. It is on this trust that we build our expectations for life. If we do not have this basic trust, we are then betrayed to a chaotic lifestyle. Life become chaos, it does not have order or rhythm. It becomes chaotic because we are overly consumed with fear – fear of the unknown and of the harm that will ensue.

It therefore follows that fear and chaos are overcome by faith and trust. We learn to have faith and trust, which in turn give rhyme and reason to our life and existence.

This week we are challenged to look at our prayer life in a new manner, that is, not only as a conversation with God but a conversation with the self. We turn inward to find the strength to push outward – to push that love and compassion out. We find the strength to do this because we trust. We trust love because we understand that love to be God.

God is love. Unconditional love. If we have love in our heart and if we have love for one another, Jesus tells us, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are Christians by the love that we share and spread.

When we find it difficult to share our love, it is usually because we do not trust. We do not faith that love will be returned to us. We do not trust that love will not hurt. We have lost trust in love. But today we stand with a different outlook and a mature understanding of our faith and place in the universe, we now understand that God is love. And this understanding makes all the difference.

We trust God because God is the one constant in the universe. He is, the I am. Not He was, not He will be, but He is. God as the Eternal Present, is the only thing that can be trusted. He is the only constant in our life that dispels the fear and brings order to the chaos. As such, He – this constant – allows us to trust in ourselves, the love that is in our heart. To trust God means to trust love. We therefore can push ourselves and push outward that love without fear.

On this 32nd day of Lent we are noticing the change in our Journey. What started as the road to faith is now turning into the path of action. You have it within you to act, to trust your actions because they are built on faith, they are built on love, that is, they are built on the trust that you have in God.

Today we have a simple exercise: to love. It is the beginning to the path to action. It is the first step towards action. It is a true love, which may hurt, but we trust it. We are completely submitting ourselves to that love. Submitting to God is submitting to love. Push yourself today to freely explore submission to God. Substitute the love where you think of God. Substitute God where you think of love. Push yourself to love others – family, friends, or someone you do not know. Push yourself to engage in a random act of love. Then take the chance and really push yourself to love your enemy. It is there, in your action, that you see God manifested. There you see God born. There you see the chaos brought to order and fear dispelled. It is at that point that you truly understand, “Thy will be done.” It is His will that we love one another.

Let us pray:
O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give a sense of your presence, your strength and your love. Help us to trust your protecting love and your strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten us. For living close to you, we will see your plan, your purpose and your will in all things. Amen.

Lenten Journey Day 25 – Fear

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 25: Curry Butternut Squash

Lenten Journey Day 25 – Fear
By this 25th day of the Lenten Journey we realize many things have changed in our lives. It may seem as if our surroundings have changed when actually we are now perceiving things differently. We have a broader understanding of our prayer life. We communicate with God and with our self. We understand our fasting as a means of discipline, and of course, our giving – reaching out to others with compassion – as an articulation of faith. On this 25th day of Lent, we understand that beyond these 40 days, there is a the journey of life. What we gain from Lent, we will carry for the rest of our life.

These past few days we have studied the story of the Dishonest Steward and contemplated on the theme of stewardship, that is, being entrusted by another to look over assets. We are entrusted by God to look over His greatest gift to us: the life that we live. We are managers of that life.

Remember that in the story of the Dishonest Steward, we find a person who is commended for his shrewdness. Shrewdness is one man’s talent, while others may shy away from such expressions because of fear. That fear, in turn, prevents us from maximizing our potential. The fear of the unknown is high on the list of fears, along with the fear of the self, the fear of being put down. There are so many dimensions to fear, and whatever they may be, we realize that fear prevents us from maximizing our potential.  Fear is the hurdle to overcome. The obstacles to win the race of life are many. Overcoming fear is our first step.  Think about it in your life – all the dreams that you have, all of them are attainable, so what prevents you from reaching those goals if not fear?

In our churches we cover the altar during the Lenten season. That curtain symbolizes sin, the separation between us and God due to sin. Because of our imperfection, we sin. And yet, perhaps that curtain can best be described as fear, as the fear that really prevents us from seeing the beauty that is all around us. Seeing the potential we have within us.
Beyond the parable of the Dishonest Steward, Jesus uses other parables to explain stewardship to us. Among them he speaks of stewards who are fearful; that is, people who are entrusted with life but fear to explore it. One such parable reminds us of three men who are entrusted with different amounts of money. To the first, $10,000 dollars is given; to the second, $5,000; and to the third, $1,000. When an accounting is required – “What did you do with the money that I gave you? – the first one says, “I took the $10,000 and I invested it. And I took some risks with it, but here it is. I have produced an additional $10,000.” The second man did the same thing. He took the $5,000 and he multiplied it and gave back $10,000 – “Here’s $5,000, and here’s $5,000 more that I invested and am giving back to you!” But the third of these stewards was fearful. To him was given $1,000. And he was scared. He was scared of humiliation. He was fearful that he might be condemned if anything happened to that money. Rather than understanding that money as a tool, he took it and kept it in his pocket, as if it had intrinsic worth in itself. When asked for an accounting of his stewardship, he reached into his pocket and gave back the $1,000. Nothing was lost! Not a penny! But he was condemned. He was condemned because what was given to him was kept and not utilized. He was scared to use it. He had that fear that each and every one of us possess: the fear of succeeding.

The reasons for those fears are many. They go back to our childhood and to our relationships with people who have demanded of us. Some of them are because of physical inabilities, handicaps or illnesses. They are all the same, and each of them accordingly prevent us from realizing our dreams, from reaching the goals that we set for ourselves and more importantly, from reaching the goals that God wants us to set for ourselves.

Each of the stewards in this story are given different amounts to remind us that life deals out different hands to different people. Some may have more, and others may have less, but in each case we have a responsibility to take what is given to you and maximize it. I invite you today to really think about that stewardship that God has entrusted us with – the life that you have – to end the fears that prevent you from really maximizing yourself and the potential that God has placed inside of your heart. There are so many beautiful things all around you, and I invite you to look beyond the material gains. This is not an exercise in prosperity but an exercise in fulfilling the dreams of your heart and of reaching the potential that you have.

During this Lenten Journey we realize that the curtains in front of us need to be drawn, and that we do want to see the beauty in life. Because we want it, we know that God has placed that desire in our hearts. Let us seek the beauty that God has set up all around us and know that with his help those potentials can be realized and actualized.

We now pray the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali
Protector of your Creatures, by the sign of your holy cross, keep my soul and body from the allurement of sin, from the temptation of the devil and unjust people, and from all perils of soul and body. Have mercy upon all your creatures, and upon me, a great sinner. Amen. (I Confess with Faith, 14/24)

Without a life-line

Next Step #658: Fear, anxiety and our worst nightmares are coming true in this age of pandemic. Being alone at the time of death: Faith and the belief that we’re not alone. Lost and disconnected: The challenge to walk in the shoes of others. MLK weekend, upcoming with prayers. Losing control and leaning on crutches: drugs, alcohol and religion.
Reddit: Nightmares
This week’s WD168
MLK Retreat 2021
Virtual Homeblessing
Footprints in the Sand
Luke 4
David Bowie, Space Oddity
George Winston
Cover: IHS at Mt. View by Fr. Vazken 2021
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand! 

Take it Easy


Next Step #614 – March 12, 2020 – Fears increase as Coronavirus is here, there and everywhere. A special edition on Faith as an antithesis to fear. Fr. Vazken talks about the importance for faith, education, knowledge as masses engage in the hoarding process. Taking it Easy – a trip in the Southwest, the Eagles and opportunities out of depression. Expectation: The Seven Hours of the Armenian Church, the Sun and Faith.

Joanna Chapman-Smith, “Melodies”
WD168 3/11/20
Reclaim Postponed
Take it Easy by the Eagles 
Cover: Corner in Windslow, AZ, 2020
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://InHisShoes.org

Burned it off

Next Step #610: On the Presentation of the Lord – Dyaruntarch – all you need to know about the celebration from the history, to the meaning, to the prayer to the bonfire! Heathen or not… here we come! On Fear: Active Shooter phenomena and the traumatization of our children. Fear and Faith. “Justifiable” fear – how to spot it 10,000 feet above sea level.
Song selection by Anush & Inga
Story of the Presentation Luke 2:22f
Teacher’s Unions and Active Shooter Drills
WD168 – Episode #4 on Fear
Cover: Dyaruntarch at St. Leon Cathedral, 2020
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!