Tag Archive for: January 6

Advent 36-50: Son & Sun Collide

Advent Day 36 of 50: Son and Sun Collide

Armenia was the first nation to accept Christianity. By decree of the King, Tirdat, Christianity became the official religion of Armenia in the year 301. In a pluralistic society such as ours it is difficult to imagine or even conceive of a state mandated religion. That it happened in the 4th century and that it was so well received that it became the dominant force binding and building the people of Armenia since then is what miracles are made of.

Twelve years after Armenia’s acceptance of Christianity, the Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity as an acceptable religion in the Roman Empire. From that point on people were allowed to freely practice Christianity one of a handful of religions.

Christians celebrated the Nativity – the Birth of Jesus Christ – on January 6. It was a combined celebration of Jesus’ birth, the Visit of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ. Essentially, January 6 was the date to celebrate all of the events from the Birth of Jesus to his baptism.

Within the Roman Empire there were groups that worshipped the Sun, and the Winter Solstice was a true celebration of the Birth of the Sun. To move people away from Sun worship to the Son worship of the new Christianity religion, Emperor Constantine changed the date of the Nativity to December 25, twelve days prior to January 6. The twelve day period accommodated pilgrims who wanted to celebrate the Birth of Christ in Bethlehem and his Baptism at the River Jordan. It was a 12 day journey between the two pilgrimage sites by foot.

In Armenia there was no need to separate the feasts and January 6 is the date that the Birth and Baptism of Christ are celebrated to this day under the name Theophany, that is, The Revelation of God.

Let us pray from the Morning Hour of Worship of the Armenian Church, We have become joyful after those days when you humbled us, and those years when we saw evil. Look, Lord, upon your servants and upon the work of your hands and lead their sons. May the light of the Lord God be upon us. Justify for us the work of our hands, O Lord, and prosper the work of our hands. Amen.

Cover: Envato Elements

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Armodoxy for Today: Partridge in a Pear Tree – Advent

Christmas carols happen to be one of my favorite genres of music; however, usually by December 25th most of us have had our fill. Reprogramming our car radio button away from 24/7 Christmas carols might be easy enough, but don’t erasing your playlists too quickly, because today is the first day of Christmas and you know what that means… 12 days of Christmas with drummers drumming, maids a milking, gold rings and of course, a partridge in a pear tree.

Between December 25 and January 6 there are 12 days. It has been said that in early centuries, pilgrims who would go to pray at the sight of Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem would travel to the River Jordan, to offer their prayers at this place of His Baptism. The travel time by foot was approximately 12 days. In some churches the visitation of the Magi (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) is celebrated on January 6 justifying the elaborate gifting pattern during the 12 days of Christmas is expressed in the song. For the Armenian Church, the Nativity and the events to the Baptism are remembered on January 6. But calendar considerations are not what drives Armodoxy (#56). The 12 days of Christmas are the last sprint we have on the Advent Journey we began over a month ago.

Listen to the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It is one of the favorite sing-along songs because each verse builds on the previous verse. We begin today with the partridge in a pear tree. Each day is a gift of value. Each day has a beauty to it, albeit in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree that there is beauty and value to be found in each gift.

As we wind down our Advent Journey we come back to the tangible world we inhabit. Christianity is about the spiritual plane, yes, but it is grounded in the physical dimension as well. In other words what we learn from the spiritual lessons, we have to apply to our life in this world. For instance, we learn about loving one another, but this is not a concept, it is a way of life and therefore, we must practice the “loving one another” on the relationship we have in our lifetime.

As we go through the last 12 days before Christmas, we see a real world that is hurting. There are wars, some small, some large, but all of them are devastating. They strip us of our humanity. We live in a time where the need for peace is essential to our survival as a civilization. Countries and governments have the capability of obliterating our world and our planet many times over. These countries and governments are made up of people. The partridge in pear tree is a call to all of us to be attentive to the need to harbor peace and goodwill among one another. The greatest threat to our planet and our existence as a human race is our inability to understand one another. Jesus Christ, revealed in our midst, is for us to understand that we are all his children, as such we are all united with one another through blood and spirit. If God so loves us, and if God seeks to understand us, and if God gives us a path to understand Him, then the only logical next step is for us to love and understand one another. This knowledge, is the first step toward peace.

We appeal to the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Two to Many

Armodoxy for Today: Two to Many – Advent Journey

As we move closer to Christmas on our Advent Journey, it becomes apparent that we will be meeting for Christmas on December 25th and then again on January 6th. Yesterday we spoke about the Winter Solstice, the birth of the sun and the Birth of the Son. Sometimes people, in their zeal to strike a conversation about Armenian Orthodoxy, will make a statement to the effect that Armenians are fortunate, they have two Christmas’ to celebrate. The statement is somewhat true, for in reality the Armodox understanding is even greater than two celebrations.

December 25th in the West and January 6th in Armenia are only dates of convenience, that is, dates on which the Birth of Christ may be marked and celebrated with official festivity, whether a worship service, a concert, or a party. Calendars are convenient means by which we measure time. There are groups that organize services by other calendars, for instance the Julian calendar, in which case their December 25th is on our January 7. Even within the Armenian Church there are differences of calendars. In Jerusalem the feast of Theophany – the Revelation of God – which we celebrate on January 6 is celebrated on the 19th of January.

Armodoxy, cuts through the conversion tables and date calculations and presents a very simplified – even more meaningful – proclamation of the date of Christmas. For a Christian, Christ is born every day. Imagine a world in which every day is celebrated as Christmas? The fundamental Faith that was expounded by Jesus Christ was exactly this! You don’t preach one thing, and live another way. You don’t turn on God today and forget about Him tomorrow. Christ is born and in our midst every day. The Christian lives with the celebration of God and man reconciled. The Christian every day strives for the message heralded by the angels on the night of Jesus’ birth, “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward one another.” (Luke 2:14) Looked at it another way, is there a day in our lives when we would not proclaim the Christmas greeting that Christ is born and revealed?

We learn today that Christmas is on December 25 and on January 6, but it also must be on February 11, August 31, September 7, in a word, every day. Armodoxy converts the two days of Christmas one final time to many days, to every day. It is with this understanding that we now proceed into the final days of the Advent season and our journey through it.

Let us pray, Lord God, help us to live as Christians every day of our lives. Celebrations of your birth are important markers on our calendars and reminders of a salvific event. Allow me to live my life so that I am marking every day as a day of celebration of the love you have for me and humanity. Amen.