Tag Archive for: God

Birthing Rooms

Armodoxy for Today: Birthing Rooms

A foxhole is a hole in the ground used by soldiers as shelter against enemy fire. It’s been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. It’s an aphorism to suggest that in times of extreme fear or threat of death people will appeal to a higher power. In other words, when looking in the face of death, even the atheist will admit to a God.

Many years ago, I discovered another place where there are no atheists. The night my first child was born, it occurred to me that there aren’t any atheists in birthing rooms, either. When looking in the face of life, in its most delicate and novel state, you realize that the loss of your emotions is a connection to something greater than yourself. The details of fingernails that are thinner than paper point to life as anything but an accident.

I tested the theory a couple of times after that first experience. Same conclusion: There are no atheists in birthing rooms.

Today’s one minute for standard time.

Disrupting the Ballet

Armodoxy for Today: Disrupting the Ballet

The annular solar eclipse could not have occurred at a better time for us. It came at a time when we needed to stop and stand in awe. And those of us who witnessed it, did exactly that. We endured a week of news of escalating violence in the Middle-East and imploding war, which fed our skewed understanding of life as some sort of meaningless string of events. And then on Saturday morning, in the skies over our heads, we witnessed a spectacle of light and shadows. Our Moon came between our planet and the Sun in a cosmic ballet which once again took our breath away. At one point, it created, what is referred to as a “ring of fire” with the center of the Sun blacked out and a beautiful and circular ring hovering in the air.

A solar eclipse is a phenomenon which happens every couple of years. This time, it happened over the sliver of the planet that we inhabit here in the Western United States, making its appearance accessible to millions in its path. It is a phenomenon because the size of the moon, and its distance from the surface of our planet and the distance between it and the Sun is such that this small mass can blot out the entirety of the Sun, an object which is 400 times the size of the Moon.

We watched as the Moon danced before the Sun, moving closer and closer to the point of its annular eclipse and then the ring of fire appeared. I couldn’t help but also keep tabs on the time. The eclipse occurred exactly at the point that was predicted by the mathematics of its motion. And at that moment of eclipse, we wake up that this is not by coincidence or by chance. The cosmic ballet is choreographed by the God of the Universe to the second. The proportions, the angles, the time, come together perfectly as only a Perfect Creator could orchestrate. This is the world we are recklessly and negligently playing with, with our wars and our inability to resolve our disputes with anything but bombs and bigger bombs.

It was in the aftermath of the eclipse that I heard a song by Grammy Award winning artist India.Arie Simpson, called “God is for Real.” The timing of this performance was just as profoundly orchestrated for my reference as was my witnessing of the eclipse. At a time when hatred and evil are making headway in this world, we in the Christian community must focus on the wonders of God. This has been the message the Armenian Church has preached to its people during the worst turmoil in their history. And today, it comes to us. Here is an excerpt with an invitation link at the end to hear it in its entirety.

God is for Real by India.Arie

The sweetest honey to the brightest flower

The largest planet to the smallest atom

Snowflakes and the bird kingdom

Smaller THAN the eye can see bigger then the mind can conceive

Heard a man on the radio today, I mean I’m not going to believe in anything that I can’t see and I’ve

been through a lot of hardships in my life ya know ya know in my life

Must confess I disagreed with what he had to say

How he could he not believe that God is real I don’t understand how he could feel that way

When there’s earth, air, water, and fire, so many different flowers, sunshine and rain showers

So many different crystals, ant hills and volcanoes

That’s how I know that God is real. All of this is not by chance. That’s how I know that God is real.

All of this is not by chance.

YouTube Video: God is Real

Songwriters: Drew Ramsey, India Arie Simpson, Shannon B. Sr. Sanders.


Armodoxy for Today

This week of the Advent Journey is dedicated to what theologians refer to as, “The Problem of Evil.” Simply put, it’s the incongruity of believing in a good God, who is all powerful and being faced with the reality that evil exists in the world. In other words, given that evil is real with headliners such as cancer, war, molestations, earthquakes, and famine, either God is not all good or God is not all powerful. Why would a good God, who is all powerful, allow evil to exist?

Evil is a problem which has perplexed people since the first-time villagers had to pick up after a devastating earthquake or a lightning bolt created a forest fire that wreaked havoc for people and all the members of the animal kingdom. In this day and age, when we understand that earthquakes are caused by the shifting of  tectonic plates, and lightning bolts are the result of charged clouds grounding, God doesn’t need to enter the equation. However, for theologians and clergy who make a case for a good and omnipotent God, forming an answer is called a theodicy. It follows that if God allows these evil, then is it possible that evil is a punishment from God? People of good faith, can easily reach this conclusion, and figure illness or death are paybacks from God for wrongs you have committed. And so, the question was brought to Jesus.

On this Sunday of Advent the Church offers the Gospel reading from Luke chapter 13. Here, there were two incidents that people perceived to be delivered as punishments from God. The stories – one of Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices and the other was of a tower which fell in Siloam causing the death of 18 people – were the focus of this inquiry of Jesus. On today’s scale, it would be like us asking Jesus if the Indonesians who died in last month’s earthquake perished because they were sinners? Or was it because of the sins of the Ukrainians that bombs fell on their cities?

In the passage, Jesus answers, Do you think that they were worse sinners than all the other because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Under no uncertain terms, Jesus gives the definitive answer that evil is not the punishment of God upon us! The idea that God sits in heaven waiting for us to make a wrong move so he can blast us with a lightning bolt is as absurd as it sounds. And Jesus emphatically gives us a big N-O!

So then, why evil? Can’t God vaporize all evil? Or is it that he just doesn’t want to? We will pick up with these questions tomorrow, on our journey through Advent.

We pray Shnorhali’s 15th hour: Christ, guardian of all, let your right hand protect and shelter me by day and by night, while at home and while away, while asleep and while away that I may never fall into sin. Amen.


Armodoxy for Today

In the parable of the “Prodigal Son” (Luke 15), when the wayward boy is reconciled with his father, the servants of the house hear the voice of the father command, “Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.” In this action, the son would be reconciled completely with his father.

Returning back to physical and/or emotional health – whether following an attack by a virus or after a broken relationship – is a difficult proposition and often, a more difficult process. Along the way, both physical and emotional health may be compromised making full recovery next to impossible.

The recovery granted to us by God is complete and full. By looking inward, we discover our weaknesses and count our strengths. The delicate balance between the two is defined by our perception, attitude, and our ability to communicate with God.

Begin with prayer, “Christ, you are the growing fire, inflame my soul with the fire of your love, which you have shed on the earth, that it may consume the stains of my soul, clear my conscience, purify my body from sin, and kindle in my heart the light of your knowledge. Amen.” (Shnorhali #10)

King of Glory

Armodoxy for Today

King of Glory

Armodoxy has developed in a land and among a people that have not known peace for long stretches of time. Armenia, at the intersection of three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia, has been trampled on by invaders, barbarians and would-be conquerors.

Sunday after Sunday in the Armenian Church, there is a “question-and-answer” session which takes place during the Divine Liturgy. This Q&A has been going on for centuries. The deacon, with the chalice in hands, approaches the priest and asks that the doors be opened for the “King of glory.” The priest asks, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle?” The questioning continues and upon his second inquiry, the deacon announces, “This is the King of glory!” and hands-off the chalice for the priest to prepare the Holy Eucharist.

It was the Psalmist who first framed the dialogue on behalf of a hurting world (Psalm 24:8-10). And it has been heard and overheard from altar areas ever since, during times of trouble, persecution and war.

Priest: Who is the King of glory… mighty in battle?

Deacon: This is – He is – the King of glory!

Wars are won and wars are lost but in the case of Armenia, the number losses far outnumber the wins, prompting a more appropriate question: Who is this King, so mighty in battle, that the war was lost? Perhaps not as an audible chants by the deacon, but definitely in the solitude of the mind. Ultimately, what does it mean to proclaim God as almighty – mighty in battle – in the face of horrific tragedies that we endure?

In Holy Scripture, time and time again, we find our Lord Jesus teaching by example. When a tragedy befalls another, he touches them with his love and asks us to do the same. During the Divine Liturgy, the deacon is heard inviting people to worship. He beckons the congregation to stand in peace, to pray fervently, to listen in awe, to prepare themselves and to approach the Blessed Sacrament. Simply put, he calls everyone to celebrate the victory of Christ. His pronouncement “He is the King of glory!” is a response to the priest’s question and at the same time it is an invitation for us to engage in the Kingdom which is in our midst.

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” says Christ our Lord, “Nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

“The King of glory mighty in battle,” is the answer the Deacon proclaims to the priest and in-turn to all of us, every Sunday. We are invited to explore, engage and discover the King of glory for ourselves, “mighty in battle” who is here answering us, our sufferings, our dilemmas, and our wars, by touching us with his love and compassion. By accepting the invitation, we engage in the Kingdom of God. We accept a call to personal and community responsibility to extend ourselves. Indeed, the Kingdom of God is within us!

The Q&A, the Divine Liturgy and hence, our Church is calling us to this higher understanding of our Christian Faith, as members of the Kingdom, to engage in the struggles and sufferings that are all around us, not with a question but with the solid answer: He is the King of glory, mighty in battle.

Today we pray from the Lords prayer, “Our Father, may your kingdom come, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Greater than God

Armodoxy for Today

Greater than God

For Jesus, there is one thing which is greater than God. It probably sounds unusual to express this, in this manner, but in fact, when all is said and done, Jesus makes it very clear that one thing is more important than God.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5)

Jesus makes it clear that the sacredness of church, the worship practice, or even supporting your church are all secondary to our reconciliation with one another. He draws a line separating sincerity from hypocrisy, it doesn’t make sense to give outwardly if you aren’t at peace inwardly. “Leave your gift there before the altar,” he says. There is something much more important, and that is for us to be at peace with one another, reconciled and in union with one another. In fact, this is the first message given to us on the night of Jesus’ birth: “Peace on Earth/Good will toward one another.”

Christianity is about our reconciliation with one another and thereby being reconciled with God.

Let us pray the prayer of St. Nersess Shnorhali (23), “All merciful Lord, have mercy upon all your faithful, on those who are mine and those who are strangers to me, on those whom I know and those whom I do not know, on the living and on the dead, and forgive all my enemies, and those who hate me, the trespasses that they have committed against me, turn them from the malice which they bear towards me, that they may be worthy of Your mercy. Amen.

Bishop Daniel Interview

Next Step #749: “We are sitting on a treasure” says Bishop Daniel Findikyan, and admits that the value of that treasure is “inconceivable.” Listen in on this interview that goes beyond administrative issues and talks about Faith, Christ, God, and our spiritual life. Discuss: Truth through Jesus, the Prosperity Gospel, Old and New Testaments and Bible in the light, the gender of God, translating beyond language, and much more.
Check out Epostle.net for the latest and daily updates.
Bishop Daniel at St. Leon Cathedral (10/9/22)
The Next Step Interview with Bp. Daniel (2018)
Holy Spirit Building the Church
Cover Photo: Vahe Sargsyan at the 40th anniversary
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net
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First Step in the Metaverse

Next Step #740: Is it real or is it the metaverse? Perhaps both? The first step in the metaverse is the next step, as we prepare for the launch of Epostle.net and Web 3.0 experiences, Fr. Vazken takes this step and shares some thoughts along the path. Rotary phones, LSD, algorithms and creating worlds – controlling and resting some of the fears and apprehensions of the unknown. Tom Edison usurping the light from God? More…
Here comes the Metaverse, Are we Ready?
How the metaverse affects us
Captain Crunch and the AT&T hack
Rotary Phone & 17 year old
Joni Mitchell
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org and Epostle.net
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Shooting Star

Next Step #739: A “star” shoots from one side of the sky to the other, from brightness to fizzle, at a speed that beckons slomo. A look at the speed of life, the expectations for tomorrow and reflections. Nurture vs. Nature, the case for goodness in people. Innocence lost. The greatness of children in the words of Jesus. The clergy prop. Imagination: the gift of God to exploit.
Epostle.net – https://epostle.net
Next Step #423 – A second listen
Matthew 18:1-14
Harry Chapin 
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Next Step with Fr. Vazken #703: Mourning the loss of Gabriel & Katie-Jay Stauring, on this Thanksgiving Day. Personal reflections from Fr. Vazken about the life and legacy of two peacemakers who saw God. What if someone cared in 1915? The answer as is found in the work of Gabriel & Katie-Jay. Thanksgiving for the very special life that touched the world.
iACT Tweet on the passing of Gabriel & Katie-Jay
iACT Refugee Led Solutions
What if someone cared? 2008 Gabriel IHS honor
2015 – 20 Trips Later
2021 – iACT in Armenia
2021 – Interview with Gabriel & Katie-Jay
IHS Greetings of Hope
Joan Baez – Gracias A La Vida
Cover photo: Gabriel & Katie-Jay Stauring in Artsakh
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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