Tag Archive for: revolution

Post Theophany: John Forerunner & Baptist

Armodoxy for Today: John the Baptistn

The third person in the Nativity narratives is St. John the Baptist. In the Armenian Church he is celebrated as the one who baptized Jesus, (=M’grdich) and as the foreunner (=nakha-garabed). About a week after the Theophany, the Armenian Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist and Forerunner to Jesus Christ.

“John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,” writes the evangelist St. Matthew (chapter 3). John’s message was simply, “‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’”

The forerunner prepares the road for the one who is to come, and so John the Baptist, was actively preparing the people for the Revolution that was soon to come, that is, for Jesus Christ. I use the word “Revolution” intentionally, to draw attention to the uniqueness and newness/freshness of Jesus’ message. It was about to explode the society and all the conventions of the religious community. If it were not revolutionary, there would be no need for a forerunner. There is no need to prepare people to maintain the status quo.

The evangelist further describes John’s appearance as being “Clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.” It is important to note that this is one of the rare occasions in the Gospels that someone’s appearance is described. John was being compared to the Prophet Elijah who was, “A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” (2Kings 1:8) According to the tradition, Elijah was a forerunner to the coming of the Lord (See Malachi 4:5) and the connection between John and Elijah is made in several instances in the New Testament.

John the Baptist was the first to recognize Jesus, while still in the womb. His mother Elizabeth was a kinsman to Jesus’ mother Mary. When the two pregnant cousins met, John “Leapt in his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:41), thus he became the first to recognize Jesus, while still in utero.

This is our take-away from the Forerunner John: he knew where he stood in the salvific process. He was in complete acceptance of his position as forerunner to the Lord. In today’s terms, he knew he was the opening act to the main event. He did not try to overshadow Jesus, instead backed off and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Luke 1)

Let us pray, “Lord our God, Jesus Christ, who came to the River Jordan to be baptize by John. May my soul be humbled as I stand in your presence. May I find my calling in your service. May the example of John the Forerunner remind me to always seek the Glory of God and not my own. Amen.


Revolution: Evolving Love

Armodoxy for Today: Evolving Love

When political systems do not work there is a call for revolution. The word itself comes from revolve – that is to turn around. In Christianity we use the word “repentance” which means to turn direction and aim toward God.

From early apostolic days, the term repent was used to imply a change in direction toward God. The Apostle Peter urged people to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Repentance or repenting is a necessary part of the Christian life. What is often forgotten is that repentance takes place after self-evaluation. The necessity to repent is part of the human condition because we are not perfect.

One of the prayers offered by the priest in the Armenian Church is a prayer that you will never hear read over you, and if you do hear it read over you may want to check our surroundings. It is from the funeral service of the Church where the priest asks God, in His Mercy, to forgive the person of his sins, “because who is it that lives, and does not sin?” And in an explanation (if not to God then to all who hear this prayer) the priest confesses that “Only You (God) are sinless and to You belong the kingdom of all eternities.”

In fact, “sin” is merely an acknowledgement of our human condition. It means we are not perfect and we miss the mark of perfection. Think of a dart board, it is a target with a bull’s eye in the middle. Now imagine tossing darts at the board. For every dart that misses the center, that dart is said to be in sin. The dart that misses the bull’s eye by one ring and the dart that misses by three rings, as well as the dart that misses the entire board, have sinned; they have missed the mark.

Sometimes repentance is described with the phrase turning 180 degrees, that is, turning completely around. Not so. Sometime smaller adjustments are necessary, and the only judge of the degree of adjustment is you yourself. That is why self-evaluation is so important in the life of the Christian, and for this reason the Armenian Church gives opportunities, through days of prayer and fasting, for self-evaluation.

Each of us is in need of correcting our courses in various degrees. This is the revolution that is the beginning of living with heightened awareness. Inside of the word revolution is the word evolution and in reverse form the word love. The true call to Repentance is the call to turn around the LOVE that is missing from our lives so that we can evolve. All living forms evolve. Evolution is part of the living process. Things that are dead, decay. They do not evolve. And rightly so, they do not have the capacity to love.

The God-gift that is inside each of us is the capacity to love. Revolutions that do not accent the love within them are doomed to failure. Revolutions that have turned around the love within them are of the type that Jesus Christ ushered in with the Kingdom of Heaven. And so he instructs us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33)

We pray a prayer from the Book of Hours of the Armenian Church, “O God, Merciful, Compassionate and Patient, who pains for the sufferings of His creation. Console and grace us the reason for repentance so that we may enter Your Holy Church with spiritual enrichment, confession and repentance and along with your saints praise and glorify You, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. Amen.”

Changes from a Mouse

Armodoxy for Today: Change

This Summer Disney is asking, “What if a Mouse Could Change the World”? Alluding to the little black and white cartoon character that debuted almost a century ago, the multibillion dollar company is using the mouse to point to their resorts, theme parks, songs, movies, and everything that is part of magic of Disney. It is interesting that the ad campaign does not refer to the mouse by name. The Disney mouse is so well known that there is no mistaking him with any of the other pop mouses, whether his girlfriend Mini, or Jerry of Tom and Jerry, or Mighty Mouse. Mickey is so well branded that thousands of children line up at Disney theme parks every day to get their mouse-ears. The shape of the cap is enough to make the connection. Yes, indeed, the little mouse could and has changed the world.

There is another mouse that we adopted about 40 years ago. It too has changed the world, primarily in the way we interact with the world. It is the electronic device that resembled more of a mouse when it had a wire connecting it to the computer, but even today in its tailless/wireless evolved form, allows us to change our world with words, graphics and videos in a manner that was incomprehensible only a 50 years ago.

In both cases – Disney’s Mickey and the computer’s pointing device – change has been embraced. The question, What if a mouse could change our world? is rhetorical. Of course, the mouse has changed our world, just as so many other things have changed our world.

In a few days we will remember a time when the terrifying power of the atomic bomb was unleashed on human populations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It brought an end to the Second World War, but it also instilled in our collective memory the scene of mass destruction. We saw an entire city destroyed in the blink of an eye. We saw beyond that blink, at the years and decades of disease and psychological trauma, the fear and anxiety with which subsequent generations lived, with take-cover drills and the Friday-morning bomb drills. Today, nuclear arsenals can destroy not only cities but the world and civilization itself. They are so destructive that there is no preparing for them. We have abandoned the drills and perhaps even some hope.

Change is inevitable. Change is happening. If we live, we change. When we die, we decay. A mouse brought change a century ago. A bomb brought change in a more existential manner.

The Armenian experience has been one of constant change. Living under different regimes, being invaded by barbarians and having to leave house and home, has left its scars on the people and the collective psyche. The Armenian church, with its centralized theology on the person of Jesus Christ, has offered the stability in stark reaction and in contrast to the changes that drive anxiety and fear. Ironically, Jesus Christ brought about a revolution, a change in the way we understand ourselves in relationship to God. The cornerstones of that revolution are faith, hope and love. These are the three elements of stability that counter act the anxiety of change in our lives.

Jesus Christ is the change that brings change toward peace and harmony. The centerpiece of the Armenian Church, and therefore Armenian Orthodoxy, is peace and harmony.

Let us pray, O Lord of hosts, commit my soul to the angel of peace, who will come and keep us tranquil by day and by night, while awake and resting. Increase in me faith, hope and love, so that I may walk with courage and strength as I journey through this life. And at all times I give thanks and glory to you. Amen.

Practices and Distractions

Next Step #607: Rev. Martin Luther King and the message of non violence: Connecting to St. Vartan (451) and the Velvet Revolution (2018). Meeting with Rev. James Lewis – “The Non-Violence or Black Church Movement.” Distractions from the comics to the comix, from the Grammy to the Super Bowl. A validation of Armodoxy and the Armodoxy playbook from the most obvious places.
Shirley Ceasar, “God will take care of you
Rev. Dr. James Lawson
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Last Christmas Sermon
King’s Sermon Audio
Fr. Vazken’s 1998 MLK Sermon
Gus and the Train
Nicene Creed
Cover: “Distraction” 2008 V. Movsesian, Brazil
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! 

Midwinter Blues Turn Fun

Next Step #87 – February 4, 2010

Special numerical calculations for 2010 – 40 days twixt Christmas and Groundhogs, gives way to the Purification period. 40 days twixt Presentation and the End of Lent – doesn’t happen, but once in a lifetime. Drop the embarrassment from Christian and Christian pastors this is about a LIVING Christ and his REVOLUTION. Follow up on the “Khrimian and Obama” lecture topped off with Superbowl wishes for a Super Sunday.
Song: George Harrison’s “The Inner Light” by Jeff Lynne (Concert for George);
Bubbles by Ani: 8 Gifts;
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net

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