Tag Archive for: Pentecost


In this post-Pentecost week, we have been talking about certain characteristics of the Church which point to structure and discipline. Whether its order vs. chaos or the canon laws of the church, it becomes clear that the Christian Church has a structure and a system of operations, which often becomes difficult for people, especially in the West, to understand and accept. We have a tendency to oversimplify some of the most critical and important concepts in Faith.

We have all heard preachers who call people to a “Bible based Church.” That’s fine and certainly within their prerogative, but the Apostolic Church was and continues to be a “Jesus based Church.” This is not merely a word play, but a built-in mechanism to assure that faith is beyond words, but actually engaging with Christ. Often, we hear a preacher or Christian teacher take a passage from one book of the Bible, verify it with a passage from another book, justify it with yet another verse from yet another book. The Bible was never meant to be read like that. The Bible is one book, about God’s love for us. From beginning to end, it is one book. It has its place within our Church – the collective body of Christians – as the “Աստուածաշունչ,” that is, the “Breath of God.” It is sacred, as the Breath of God certainly is.

As we learned, from Ascension to Pentecost, the Church took form. And through the centuries the Church evolved, like all living bodies. But the centrality of Christ never changed because the structure, the discipline of the Church was codified in the canons. This is what gave order and stability to the Church. There is a hierarchy within the Church made up of bishops, priests and deacons, and each has a role. This structure comes from the Apostolic era. We believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, and calls individuals to the collective work of the Church, each according to the gifts given to them.

As we conclude this post-Pentecost week, we read St. Paul’s message concerning the different gifts of the Spirit and how it is essential to honor the structure, the order and discipline of the Body. In reading it, we understand even in those early years of the Church’s history, this rebellion against structure was at issue. But we also hear that structure, order and discipline were essential for the Church.

From the 12th chapter of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, he writes,

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (NKJV)

Changing over to Apostle

Armodoxy for Today: Changing over to Apostle

There comes a time when children want to leave the nest and part of the parenting skill is finding the opportunity to encourage that move. Sometimes it requires a push, so the young one can catch the wind as they spread their wings. In preparation for their departure parents have given their children the necessary upbringing and education. Of course, the education process continues through life activities and events.

When Jesus stood at the Sea of Galilee and called his disciples to follow him, his invitation was simple: Come. After his Resurrection, at the Ascension, the command was just as simple: Go. He first invited them to come, follow and learn. At the Ascension he said it is time for them to go, teach others.  It is precisely at the Ascension that the Disciples (students) become Apostles (those who are sent = missionaries).

The Apostles received the tools with which to do their missionary work on the day of Pentecost, hokegalust in Armenian, which means “Coming of the Spirit.” As we read yesterday in the Book of Acts 2, the Holy Spirit gave the gift of utterance to the Apostles.

The gift of God is communication. We are not created as robots, but entities with the ability to process thought and communicate it to others. Is it any wonder that the human being is the only member of the animal kingdom that procreates, makes love, facing each other. In the most intimate of positions, the human being has the opportunity to communicate at all levels with thoughts, speech, feel and touch. Language is the skill to communicate with others.

Armodoxy rejects the idea that at Pentecost the gift of utterance was a secret sound-code that was understood by only some. Scripture says that the people who heard the Apostles talking said, “And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? … we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” The sounds that people heard were languages, not non-sensical words or sounds. The gifts of God are always practical; they have a function.

Words express our thoughts and teach, that is, they pass along knowledge. The object of those teaching-lessons is harmony among people. The idea that God would give people confusing sounds, or would want to confound people’s attempts to understand one another is foreign to Christian thought. The gift of the Holy Spirit brings us together, not draws us apart.

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. With the Holy Spirit, the Church would now move to continue the work of Christ. The Church is community. There is no such thing as one-Christian. Christianity is about working together, so that “Thy Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven” (from the Lord’s Prayer).

Christ taught his Disciples. When the time came and the Disciples were ready to continue the mission, what we may refer to as “spreading their wings,” Christ commissioned them to “Go” and share what they had learned, ensuring the continuity of his message in perpetuity.

The perfect vehicle for this is the group of people, that is community, that reach out to one another with hands, legs and voice, to find strength and work for what Jesus sought: Peace on Earth, good will toward one another.

The Church is one when it reflects this harmony in its teachings.

Today’s prayer will come from the last verses of Acts, chapter 2, the first Christian community after Pentecost:

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (NKJV)

Pentecost – Hokegalust

Armodoxy for Today: Pentecost

A young girl in a parking lot
Was preaching to a crowd
Singing sacred songs and reading from the Bible
Well, I told her I was lost
And she told me all about the Pentecost
And I seen that girl as the road to my survival…
~Paul Simon (Duncan)

The Pentecost is a turning point event in the life of the post-Resurrection Christian Community. While the word Pentecost eludes to the 50th day after Easter, let us refer to it by its Armenian names Hokegalust as it is more descriptive and, therefore, more meaningful for the Christian. Translated, Hokegalust means the coming of the Spirit. Jesus promised the Great Comforter. On this day, the promise is fulfilled. We read the story in the Book of Acts, 2nd chapter.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

The first and most important take-away from this story is that the Uncreated Essence, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the One that was floating above the Earth before time,  the Holy Spirit, has landed upon this group of individuals – each from a different background – and has transformed them into a Community, which will eventually change the world. This is a sacred mission that is here to transform the world, its understanding of peace, harmony among people, and the golden key that turns the locks to every door, namely, love.

The Disciples were ordered to go to the world and spread the message of faith, hope and love. Thus, the Disciples turned into Apostles, meaning one who is sent. In Armenian, the word Arakyal (apostle) comes from the verb Arakel (one who is sent).

The revolution starts now. Jesus came and he touched the Disciples and the people with his message, but it was on this day that his message was given the feet with which to walk and change the world.

Join us tomorrow as we continue on the theme of the hokegalust – the Sacred turning point and beginning of the Revolution, on Armodoxy for Today.

Business Model

Armodoxy for Today: Business Model

Many clergymen cringe when they hear someone mention the word business next to their church. It is insulting, they think, to refer to the church as a business. Understandably, if the Church is ordained by Christ, and is the dwelling place of God, it should not be tainted with models from the college MBA textbook. God should take care His Church and speaking of a business model which brings tangible returns can be seen as anathema.

When I was growing up, as I was contemplating the priesthood, I had a conversation with my parish priest, Fr. Krikor Hairabedian (of blessed memory), who shared his understanding of the Church. He said, if Christ is the head of the Church, then he is the “boss.” Why would I worry about any of the tangible matters? God will take care of His Church. And Fr. Krikor proceeded to tell me how throughout his own lifetime, God had always taken care of every one of his needs. Needless to say, Fr. Krikor was a man of great faith. Now, 40+ years into my priesthood, I often think about that conversation with good priest, and can attest the same with my experience in the Church. “The Lord is my shepherd,” says the psalmist (23) and follows up with a declaration, “I shall not want.”

There is a mystical dimension to the Church that overlaps the material Body of Christ. And certainly, it is the formula by which the Armenian Church has “worked” for the last 2000 years. God is in charge and everything falls into place and is taken care of.

The material Body of Christ is what functions on Earth. It is the legs, the arms, the mouth, the voice of Christ in the here and now. As such, it needs material support. The word “business” refers to the actual mechanism by which the work gets accomplished. Yes, we shy away and cringe at the statement that the church is a business, but in fact it is. It’s goal, however, is not the physical wealth, but the spiritual soul that resides in every human being.

A business – say a restaurant, insurance company or a department store – has as its ultimate goal the creation of more wealth. It has an obligation to its investors to make a profit, however, along the way, it accomplishes other tasks, which we can call overt goals: the restaurant feeds hungry people, the insurance company provides security for families, and the department store furnishes clothing and goods for people. The Church follows the same model but the ultimate goals and the overt goals are swapped. That is the Church has as its goal the salvation of the soul, and accomplishes this by the teaching the message of love that Christ demonstrated. Along the way, needs to take care of electric bills, property maintenance and pay for supplies. Calling it a business does not discount the participation of God, it merely establishes an order, a system by which things get accomplished.

During this period, between Ascension and the Pentecost in the post-Resurrection era, the Church was being formed. The order and the systems were being put into place to accomplish the greatest work of all, functioning as the Body of Christ.

We conclude today and these thoughts with the reading of the first Psalm:

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1)

Holy Spirit Building the Church

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #730: From the words of St. Paul (Ephesians 4) to the vision of Bishop Daniel Findikyan, “Building Up the Body of Christ” is the next step in direction and opportunity for the Armenian Christian experience. Pentecost and the witness of the Holy Spirit building Christ’s Holy Church: Direction for the Christian Church. Spiritual music from the Monastery of Holy Geghart. “Going back to move forward” – a quick look at Luke 2.
Building Up the Body of Christ by Bishop Daniel Findikyan (text & audio)
Second Palm Sunday Sermon
Unleashing his vision (2018 Interview with Bp. Daniel)
Story of Pentecost
Cover: Ruins of Havuts Monastery Armenia at Sunset, V. Kulkov
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Tech, Spirit, Empowerment

Next Step #574: DishDivvy CEO & Co-Founder Ani Torosyan discusses technology and entrepreneurship as means of empowering the weak, offering opportunities for growth, self reliance… offering hope! This on the week of Pentecost – the feast of empowerment.  A very upfront-and-personal interview with a shaker and mover. Soufra – from the refugee camps in Lebanon, to a flight over Latin America, to a theater in Glendale – here’s a story that inspires and teaches about the realities of life and overcoming the odds. From their table to yours, it’s Plan A all the way!
Spirits in the Morning by Kantara 
DishDivvy Links
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>> Californians learn more
Fr. Vazken’s Pentecost Sermon (Armenian & English)
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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Pentecost Vibrations at Sardarabad

Next Step #520: Sardarabad at 100: vibrating to the sounds of Pentecost. Beyond politics, this episode of the Next Step focuses on listening to the secret language that vibrates within us… the Bells of Etchmiadzin wakening us to our missions. Garegin Chukhaszyan ends hunger strike. Acquiring language skills: Pentecost and Savant models.
Sardarabad Winds of Passion
Sardarabad Wiki
Sardarabad at 90 by Fr. Vazken
The Last Station Stop
Sardarabad Monument in Newhall
Anthony Bourdain in Armenia
Garegin Chukhaszyan hunger strike in his own words
Savant Syndrome
Acquired Savant Syndrome (Wisconsin Medical Society)
Fr. Krikor Zakaryan interview (Next Step #519)
Cover Photo: Sardarabad 2009, Fr. Vazken
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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Pentecost Close to Home

Next Step #470: Intolerance escalates; bullies back down from bigger bullies all in the name of comedy? Maher, Griffin and the rest (excuse us Professor & Mary Ann). Pentecost- the power of the Holy Spirit to transform. Protest a la capitalism = putting out the fire with water. Continuity and growth by finding the next generation of protesters. And more…
Adana by Zaruhi Babayan
Teachings of Fr. Mesrob Sarafian
Reflections from the Priest’s funeral (Next Step #31)
Five Differences between Orthodox & Evangelicals
Upcoming Decennial Forgiveness Day: http://inhisshoes.org/event/7×77/
From 2007 Forgiveness day: http://7×77.org
Photo: Portland Art
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Subscribe to In His Shoes » Next Step with Fr. Vazken by Email
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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Depth of Spirit

Next Step #415: When a daughter brings her father’s treasures to Fr. Vazken, it sets the backdrop for three dimensional conversation. Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit which adds depth to the flatness of two dimensional reality making the Church active. The obligation to speak out with the voice.
Sts Sahag Mesrob Children’s Choir & St. Mary Narek Bell Choir
Gor Mkhitarian “Passport” Debut
Dekmejian Speech
Photo: Depth of Spirit by Fr. Vazken (2011)
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Between A & B

Next Step #364: The Pentecost “business” model explored. Nationalism within the ethnic church in the diaspora; Finding the means and tools to accomplish your mission and the build-up of infrastructure. What’s next in life? — a story that helps find the find.
Song – Karen Margaryan’s “Two Pianos
In His Shoes YouTube Channel
What Color is Your Parachute?
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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!