Tag Archive for: life

Greater Love: Memorial Day

Armodoxy for Today: Memorial Day

There is a park that I pass by occasionally on my morning rides. It has a sizable monument dedicated to the veterans of US wars. On the center plaque there are the insignias of the different branches of the military hovering around a lone statement that reads, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

I happen to know that this quote is from Jesus. In the Gospel of John (15), Jesus proclaims this truth in final discourse with his disciples before being betrayed and handed over to trial and crucifixion. But for others who had not read the Bible passage or had no reference to Jesus, the quote seems like a basic truth. And that’s how it is presented to the visitors of the park and this monument. The quote is without reference, neither to Jesus, nor to the Gospel in which it appears.

One of the most beautiful traditions we have in the United States is expressed in the Memorial Day holiday. It is an expression of appreciation for one of the greatest gifts, namely freedom, and the price that has been paid for it.

A value can be ascribed to everything, except to human life. Life is a gift given only once by God and therefore it is priceless. When someone loses their life for a cause, we say they have paid the ultimate price, again, emphasizing its pricelessness.

We have heard that freedom is not free, and interestingly enough, the price of freedom is measured by life, that is, the value of freedom is so great that it can only be measured, or given value, in terms of human life.

Stephen Stills writes,
Do we find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down

Whether the words of Jesus are referenced to him or not, the words “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” stands as an axiom. As Christians, however, we are consoled in knowing that our Lord, Jesus Christ, said these words as a statement about his offering, his love for his friends, for his children.

Memorial Day gives us a beautiful opportunity and a chance to reflect on something that should be reflected upon regularly, that is, the value of life and those things that are measured by life itself. Are there things that you love more than life itself? Freedom? Family? Love? Country? A close inventory can reveal much. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has said, “If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live.”

Jesus made it clear, that he loved us so much that he laid his life down for us, his friends. In return he asks that we lay our lives down, not to the grave but to surrender to loving one another. It is the greatest testimony to Memorial Day, to respect the price others have paid and understand that in living, and living fully, we honor their sacrifice.

Let us pray, On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace. Amen. (from Common Prayers)

Celebration

Armodoxy for Today: Celebration

The first day of May, referred to as May Day, is roughly halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. In European culture, festivals would take place, and still do, to celebrate the nearing of summer. International Workers Day is also celebrated on the first day of May, with a focus on man and his labor, similar to what we celebrate in the United States, possibly with less commercialization.

The human animal is uniquely endowed with this ability to celebrate different aspects of life. We hold gatherings and create events to facilitate the celebration.

Celebrating life was important to Jesus. His parables pointed to that celebration and he himself was attuned to the need to celebrate by leading a productive life.

Although May Day and the International Worker’s Day are celebrated on the same day, they are not related to one another except by the fact that they are both celebrated. Let that celebration be a good starting point to aim for peace and harmony. Celebration sets us up as humans to see the wonders of life and stand in awe. In that common refrain, we are tuned to one another.

Is it any wonder that the leader of the Divine Liturgy is referred to as the Celebrant. Today, we pray the prayer of the celebrant of the Divine Liturgy as he clothes himself with the garments of salvation:

O Jesus Christ our Lord, clothed with light as with a garment, you appeared upon earth in unspeakable humility and walked with men. You became eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek and have adorned your holy church. Lord almighty, having granted us to put on the same heavenly garment, make me, your servant, also worthy at this hour when I make bold to approach the same spiritual service of your glory, so that I may divest myself of all ungodliness, which is a vile garment, and that I may be adorned with your light. Amen.

Location of the Dash

Armodoxy for Today: Location

Every good real estate agent can tell you that the number one rule in real estate is location, location, location. Repeating it three times emphasizes its importance. Identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to their location.. So choose location wisely when purchasing.

The same rule holds true in life with the exception that in life only one of the three locations is chosen by us, the client, while the other two are more of chance landings. We are all born into this world – into this life – without our consent. We have no choice as to when or where we are born. On the other end, we may feel we have more to say about our death, but often it takes place without our consent. The only location that we have control over is the third one, which is the life spent between birth and death.

This three location reality is best understood by glancing at a gravestones. Most of them have three symbols etched on them. The first is the person’s date of birth. We have no control over when or where we are born. The second location is the date of death. The third symbol is the dash that separates the date of birth from the date of death. That dash represents our lives and is the only section of life that is mostly in our control. Some dashes are short others are long, but the real quality of the dash is its thickness.

Life and how we live it is up to us. It is the dash – the life we live – that has meaning

Once a young seminarian in a monastery, in a display of youthful pride, decided to play a trick on the one of the oldest and wisest monks. He held a butterfly in his hand and brought his fingers together to cover the small insect. He asked the monk if the butterfly was dead or alive? He thought to himself, if the elderly man answers alive, I will crush the butterfly and prove him wrong. If he answers dead, I will open my fist and the butterfly will fly out. Either way the monk will be wrong and humiliated because the young student had shown him wrong.

Approaching the monk, the young man held the captive butterfly in his fist behind his back. “Old man, tell me, is the butterfly I am holding, dead or alive?” The old monk, not to be tricked replied, “The answer is in your hand.”

Maturity of Faith, which is the theme of this week, requires us to take responsibility for our lives, to recognize that God has entrusted us with our lives and it’s up to us to be part of the answer to, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” We are the ones who fatten the dash – the life between our birth and life – and we take the responsibility on whether the butterfly flies or is crushed.

Let us pray, Lord help me to understand your love through the trust you have put into our humble efforts.  tremendous trust you have in me and in humanity. Give me the strength to stand responsibly before you as I follow your commandments and do that which is pleasing in your sight. Amen.

19i23

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.

Holy Week – Lazarus Saturday

Holy Week Day #1 – Reflections on the death and resurrection of Jesus’ friend Lazarus (John 11) and the question: “Do you believe this?”;
Song “At Their Father’s Knee” by Ian Anderson; Cover: Dali-e
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for ePostle.net

Direct Link for Download

Atmosphere

Armodoxy for Today: Atmosphere

If you’ve ever looked up at the illuminated moon, or studied close pictures of its surface, you can’t help but notice its pock-marked surface. Craters, large and small, are the witnesses to eons of bombardment by meteors, chunks of planets, debris, rocks, and ice slamming into its surface. Everywhere you look on the moon’s surface, there are craters. There’s no escaping the destruction of space-stuff on that surface.

The moon is our closest astronomical neighbor. It belongs to planet Earth, circling around us as Earth’s largest natural satellite. And yet, the surface of the Earth and the surface of the Moon have no resemblance.

The Earth is traveling around the Sun in its orbit, along with other planets and an assortment of debris, rocks, ice and space-stuff. Once these small bodies of matter enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they light up and we conveniently label them as meteors. They streak across the sky and we call them shooting-stars. Actually, they are merely matter becoming incandescent as a result of the friction. Thanks to our atmosphere, most of these objects burn away or slow down so much that their destruction is minimal. Thanks to our atmosphere, the surface of the Earth differs from the surface of the moon quite dramatically. Not only do we not have craters, but we have lush forests, vegetation, oceans, water and therefore, we have life! Of course, the atmosphere is also responsible for our weather patterns, which include beautiful moderate to fair weather, as well as hurricanes and tornadoes. Storms and monsoons cause floods and sometimes there is loss of life because of the harsh conditions. The atmosphere is responsible for life, as well as for the loss of life.

Natural disasters are built into the design of life. An earthquake happens because the tectonic plates, deep below the Earth’s surface, upon which we build our civilizations, settle and shift. Much like the atmosphere that saves us from meteors, the earth below our feet gives us an environment to build and create life.

We end today, with a short reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 13, where our Lord Jesus Christ explains that natural disasters are not based on our guilt, our sins nor the sins of our fathers.

“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Spiritual Coaster

Next Step #760: Solutions: Write a letter? Or move mountains? Take your pick of the solution and the means. Time to get a life and take on responsibility for life. Opting for spiritual power and choice at the end of the year. Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian, laid to rest: the funeral and burial.
Leveraging Love
The Parable of Archbishop Vatche – Next Step #759
Ian Anderson: A Week of Moments www.jethrotull.com
Cover Roller Coaster: Envato Elements
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for 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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Bittersweet

Next Step #713: Bridges between bitterness and sweetness: how to build them and how to cross them, in this episode. A series of coincidences or blessings that lead to “Lessons from Grandma.” Celebrating a miracle bigger than the one at the Red Sea! A quick first look at “The Zealot Gene.”
St. Sarkis, San Diego Consecration
St. Sarkis – photographed 
Armenian America online – Priest of the People
The Zealot Gene
Cover: Bittersweet, thecapturedgarden.com
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Before Refrigeration

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #699: Adopting the Cross and Jesus from Biblical times and now: clues to the adoption process. The danger of Revelation and the nonsense of non-denominationalism. Gorbachev’s revelation. Halloween, death, and afterlife before and after refrigeration units. Beginning the process of extracting media from SM. And… answering the questions should Uma have been Yvonne?
Loving as your son: St. Joseph’s example
Purgatory Concept from Maccabees
In Step with Christ: Halloween, Masks and Saints
Few Minutes with Der Hayr (1994): Halloween and Fear
Vernacular Verbose Special ed. 
Vitamin String Quartet
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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