Tag Archive for: Purpose

Doing Business

Armodoxy for Today: The 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 of 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 the 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)

Labor & Work

Armodoxy for Today: Labor and Work

Here in America, we pause from our busy schedules every September to give a nod to our work. In other countries, they have worker’s days honoring the laborer, but here we honor the work itself and refer to this holiday as Labor Day.

For most people, I would say work is something we do because we have to. We like to eat, have a roof over our head and enjoy time with family and friends. Those things take money to acquire and so, to raise that money, we work. From early on, we make calculations and pass those calculations on to our children. If you want to live this particular lifestyle, you will need $xxx. Job xyz can provide you with enough capital to sustain that lifestyle.

A small number of people will select their life’s work based on their passion, even if the monetary rewards are insufficient to live on. And the truly blessed people are those who enjoy their work, and the monetary reward from the work is enough to sustain them without needing supplemental assistance – whether a second or third job, or a hand-out.

This may sound a bit like economics and philosophy mixed together and one may wonder what this has to do with our Christian faith. Well it has everything to do with it. Work provides certain rewards. When the rewards outweigh the purpose of the work, then desire for those rewards become the motivating force for work, for labor, for doing what we do.

Think of this: some say that gambling is wrong. Why? Every time we leave our homes, every time we sit in a car, we are gambling with our lives. Life if full of uncertainty and we gamble with our lives and much more. But the reason why gambling for money winds up high on the negativity scale is because it distorts our perception and understanding of what is valuable. Money is no longer a means by which we acquire the things we want, rather it becomes the object of what we want, our desires. It gives value to something that has no intrinsic value. A million dollars in a bank account only exists on paper. It is the number one with six zeros behind it. But when $1,000,000 is used, to buy shelter, an education, health services, act of charity, then it has a value! Money is not the object of our labor, it is the means by which we accomplish those things we need to accomplish.

Catholic and Protestant work ethics have evolved through the century. Here in the West, the Protestant work ethic, developed from the time of Martin Luther and John Calvin, is the struggle between discipline, frugality and taming the wants and the desires of a person. In the Armenian Church (and traditional Churches) we label these as seven deadly sins – anger, lust, gluttony, laziness, covetousness, pride and envy – all connected to the struggle we engage in daily.

Labor Day is a holiday and like most other holidays, the meaning is lost in vacations, excursions and sales. But for us, we will take this moment for introspection, asking ourselves the hard questions – the what and why of our work. Purpose and meaning come from this introspection.

We leave with this mediation from our Lord Jesus Christ, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

…Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty… Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever… (John 6)

Giving Thanks for Blessings

Next Step #77 – November 26, 2009

The Thanksgiving and Advent edition of the Next Step. As we wrap up our third season, a time to reflect on the meaning of thanksgiving, while looking at the meaning and purpose of Advent. It’s about getting ready, it’s about facing the message of Love at Christmas.
Song of the Day – “Blessings” by Gor Mkhitarian
Ani’s Bubbles: A Thanksgiving Prayer
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for ePostle.net
Sponsored by PredatorCycling.com

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