Armodoxy for Today: Alive
Sunday was proclaimed as a National Day of Prayer for Artsakh and for the Armenian Artsakh. Throughout the world, Armenians especially, got down on bended knees to pray. The prayer was not to a state leader, a diplomat, a politician, a social media personality, musician or celebrity.
In the Western Diocese, we celebrated the Holy Divine Liturgy at the St. Leon Ghevontians Armenian Cathedral. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, the Primate, called on the community to unite in prayer, “turning that prayer into the soil for new life. From that prayer,” he said, “Will come the inner power arising from faith, to manifest good works.”
At a time when the losses of the Armenian people are so great, the call to a life of prayer, has changed the emphasis of finding answers from within, rather than seeking them from without.
As the Archbishop was about to end his sermon, a group of Sunday School students came into the packed sanctuary and lodged themselves at the foot of the altar, in the chancel area of the huge cathedral. They were holding in their hands sheets of paper with crosses drawn on them. Each child had drawn and decorated a cross to bring to church this morning. Archbishop Hovnan announced that the day was dedicated to the Holy Cross of Varak (a small town in the Van region of Armenia, where the Cross of Christ was kept during a time of persecution). The young kids were now the new owners of these crosses.
The Archbishop asked the children to raise their cross drawings up high, so that members of the congregation could see them, as we all sang the Lord’s Prayer together. The kids began buzzing with excitement. They took their papers with ornamental crosses painted on them and they began waving them as we sang the Lord’s Prayer. In that wave, we witnessed energy and vitality. Their enthusiasm was dispensed and transmitted to all of us. We smiled at their naive understanding of faith and realized we were being given the signal from God. The next generation was sharing an enthusiasm that came from deep within each child. We were singing “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and we were being treated to the manifestation of God’s will – the love and life expressed by these children – in our holy sanctuary.
The miracles are always around us. If we are willing to open our hearts to God’s love, we can become witnesses to those miracles. Today, we record a miracle as a first step toward victory. Children living, making noise and waiving the cross, the symbol of resurrection and victory, in the midst of an Armenian church. We understand it as a miracle because it happened before a community that knelt and prayed. And if at any time you doubt that such a small gesture is a true miracle, think of the fact, that only a 100 years ago, the same enemy had proclaimed that there would be only one Armenian left and that Armenian would be found in a museum. Every noise, every prayer, ever raised cross is a miracle pointing to victory. Add to this, it all takes place inside an Armenian Church 12 time zones away from where the Armenian Church began, on the other side of the planet, at Holy Etchmiadzin. Only by the Grace of God does this miracle take place.
We prayer the prayer from the Evening Hour of the Armenian Church. Lord our God, increase within us Faith, Hope and Love. Amen.