Tag Archive for: thanksgiving

Advent 5-50: Hunger for Righteousness

Advent Day 5 of 50: Hunger

Along with the Thanksgiving celebration in America comes the tradition of packing it in with a large meal, symbolic of the first Thanksgiving meal shared by the pilgrims in the New World. And so, perhaps hunger is the last thing you’d expect to hear today, but Jesus was always one to give us the unexpected, so we follow suit.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” says Jesus (Matthew 5: 6) as part of the preface to his essential teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Hunger is a physiological experience. The body, in its interest in self-preservation, signals to the brain that it’s time to eat. Hunger needs to be satisfied for the rest of the body to continue to function.

It is no different in the spiritual realm. When the emptiness which comes from meaningless pursuits sends a signal to the brain, our spiritual appetite is engaged.

We know that in the case of physical hunger the meal can vary. Some foods will give a quick fix or satisfaction, while others can be more sustaining. It is no different in the spiritual realm. There are meals, like the ones that oblige our sweet tooth, a candy bar or a pie, that will provide quick satisfaction, but leave us hungry for sustenance. Here, Jesus points to the menu item: Righteousness. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

Righteousness is not an abstract or a subjective concept. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Remember, that we are on a journey through Advent. We are in preparation for the revelation of righteousness that will not leave us hungry. Today, we feel hunger and also have the guarantee that we will be filled. Patience is in order for our preparation.

Let us pray from the Psalms (37)

Do not fret because of those who are evil, or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Cover: Luna & Gregory Beylerian for Epostle.net

Advent 4-50: Meekness, the Key to Gratitude

Advent Day 4 of 50: Meekness, the Key to Gratitude

Meekness is often equated with weakness. This is certainly far from the truth, for Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Obviously, not a prize for the weak. In Jesus day, meekness meant control over oneself. In the New Testament, meekness means, “power under control.” Horses exemplify power. We gauge the speed of cars by referring to horsepower.  When a horse is harnessed and tamed, it is brought under control. This does not make the horse a wimpy animal, instead its power is focused and therefore channeled.

The blessing offered by Jesus is upon those who have taken control of themselves, through discipline and direction. Meekness is a way of saying we have lost (or are losing) the ego.  which skews our perception and prevents us from finding true fulfillment in life. We are taught to “believe in yourself,” while Jesus teaches, “Believe in me.” We hear, “Strive to be number one,” while Jesus says, “The last shall be first and the first shall be last.” We learn that the game-plan is “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  Jesus says “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” And of course we know the way of the world is, “Don’t get mad, get even.”  Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

In all these examples, the focused and controlled soul is the one that finds true success. Like the wild horse, we are not losing strength, only channeling it.

Everyone, in whatever arena, whether sports figure or surgeon, musician or architect, laborer or employer, finds success through discipline and control.

As the Advent season is beginning, our perception of Christmas is beginning to take form. We are led by the bright Christmas star. God who is revealed and lives among us has invited us to join in the celebration. Our first steps begin in a spirit of meekness, losing the self, controlling the power within, and acknowledging our reliance on God. And here, we find feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving.

In America we have a special day set aside for Thanksgiving. When approached in a spirt of meekness, thanksgiving becomes an art. We find sincerity in that act of gratitude because with the ego out of the way, we channel our attention to the Divine, for we understand that everything and all is from God.

Today we hear the prayer of the Pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving, after enduring the hardships of life in the new world. O Lord our God and heavenly Father, which of Thy unspeakable mercy towards us, hast provided meat and drink for the nourishment of our bodies. Grant us peace to use them reverently, as from Thy hands, with thankful hearts: let Thy blessing rest upon these Thy good creatures, to our comfort and sustentation: and grant we humbly beseech Thee, good Lord, that as we do hunger and thirst for this food of our bodies, so our souls may earnestly long after the food of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Cover: Luna & Gregory Beylerian for Epostle.net

Birthing Vision

Next Step #755 – November 24, 2022 – From Thanksgiving to the beginning of Advent, more than just a calendar season, here is a primer on a new look at an ancient subject. Death before Birth: The importance of preparedness for life events and spiritual awakening. Up close and personal: Reflections on the iAct vision of Gabriel Stauring & Katie Jay Scott, one year after their passing. Picking up the “Cross” as a metaphor to keep the vision alive and working.
Cover: “Pregnancy & Generation,” Envato Elements
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net
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Thanksgiving Expressed

In the United States we have a beautiful tradition holiday called Thanksgiving. It recollects the gratitude of the first pilgrims in America. In the Church, the tradition of Thanksgiving is as old as Christianity itself. Here is a special Thanksgiving presentation of AC101, an episode where the Thanksgiving service of the Armenian Church – the Eucharist or Badarak – is shown to parallel the traditional holiday outing and dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to all….

Ego Remedy

Armodoxy for Today

Ego Remedy

Throughout the gospels, our Lord Jesus calls us to a life of selfless living demonstrated by giving and doing unto others. It may seem like this call is an extra difficult challenge given the pressures of the day, but mastery of the discipline of selflessness – losing one’s ego – has always been the end game of true religion. Given the harsh conditions of life in which Armodoxy developed, discipline of body, soul and mind was, and is, essential for survival.

Selflessness yields inner peace and spiritual contentment.

Thanksgiving prayers are the true prayers of selflessness. The act of giving thanks implies that there is something greater than our self, and in fact, thanksgiving is the first step in losing ego, and understanding the self as part of a community, a community where we share our talents in an expression of love and care. It is us, following in the example given to us by Jesus Christ, himself.

This entire week, as a prelude to the Thanksgiving holiday, our “Daily Messages” looked at the joy of thanksgiving from different angles, and today see it opening a path to peace, one which is in our grasp and for us to create.

We pray for the strength and courage to thank God for the bounty, for the life, and the joy we enjoy. Amen.

Optimized Thankfulness

Armodoxy for Today
Optimized Thankfulness

What does a prayer of thankfulness, that is, a thanksgiving prayer, sound like?

By reviewing the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collection, we learned in yesterday’s message, that giving thanks, cannot be built on comparing our blessings with the blessings of others. (Daily Message: Comparison Shopping).

If we try to “comparison shop” as a means of thanking God, we will always come out on the short end of the scale. We may thank God for the beautiful house we possess, but next to God, who creates the valleys and mountains, and the gardens of trees and forests, our house is dwarfed. We can thank God for the luxurious cars we own, only to be reminded that the measurement of “horsepower” is meaningful because God has created the animals that move the land and inspire humans to gracefully count our movements. We may thank God for the beautiful airplane on which we fly, only to be reminded that God creates the wings, the feathers and birds that spark our imagination to create the machines that take flight. We can thank God for the art of the great painters, the words of the writers and the music of the minstrels, only to watch them pale next to a seascape hosting a sunset with clouds of deep reds and yellows that pull our imagination below the horizon.

The things we possess will always pale next to the wonders of God. Our prayer, the one of thanksgiving, is a simple one: Lord have mercy. In the Armenian Church, it is recited, chanted and sang, throughout all of our services, Der Voghormya. It is optimized thankfulness, with no excesses and packed with meaning. In asking God for His mercy, we acknowledge the greatness of the One who supplies and replenishes our lives day-to-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. In Armodoxy, this is the acknowledgement of God as Life-giver, Creator, the All. It resonates the words, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Pray this simple prayer of the Armenian Church and be mindful of all the wonders around you. Der Voghormya, Lord have mercy. Amen.


Comparison Shopping

Armodoxy for Today
Comparison Shopping

Jesus shares this story with us, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”  Jesus then tells us, “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

The lessons of this parable are many, but for this Thanksgiving season, we focus on the prayer of the first man, the prayer of the Pharisee, who, by the way, was a learned man. He knew Holy Scriptures backwards, forwards and all around. His prayer, you will notice, is a prayer based on comparison. “I thank God that I am not like the other man…” he says.

If you’re listening to this podcast, it means you have some degree of electronic access, which means that you’re better-off than most people on the planet. It is easy to say thank God I am better off than most, just as the Pharisee thanked God in his prayer. Unlike comparison shopping thankfulness is not about comparing things we do or do not have with those things that others have or do not have. It’s easy to look at the blind man and be thankful for our sight. Or hear of hunger in countries menaced by famine or war and be thankful of our food and peace. Thank God, we might say, that I am not like them!

In the history of the Armenian Church, you find that the prayers of thanksgiving are offered at times of abundance as well as times of scarcity, at times of peace and at times of war and even genocide. Thankfulness is the ability to put the ego on hold, in check, and understand yourself as a part of something greater. It is the beginning of religiosity and ultimately peace.

We pray with the Psalmist (26) Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your loving kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. I will wash my hands in innocence so I will go about Your altar, O Lord, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works. Amen.

Unashamedly Thankful

Armodoxy for Today

Unashamedly Thankful

In an effort revive or resuscitate the slowdown of “Black Friday” sales and give sales a boost, several years ago, retailers came up with some alternatives buying days, including Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, and No-tax Sunday. Perhaps out of guilt for the constant push to buy goods and services, alternatives such as Giving Tuesday and Social Saturday were offered as means of boosting the economy (read spending money) while giving the consumer an altruistic feeling of goodness. Retailers and their advertising consultants unashamedly have usurped the thanksgiving spirit of the holiday with a collection of spending opportunities, the latest of which is Black Friday sales throughout the entire month of November!

The one truly universal religious holiday in America, that is, Thanksgiving, has now been marred with spending opportunities that feed our financial anxieties – never sure if we are getting the best deal or not, on this or that product, and never sure if we need or not, this or that product.

Thanksgiving transcends religious brands. It is the beginning of all true religions and religiosity. It is the wondering of the human spirit that looks up to the heavens and contemplates his existence, realizing that there has to be something more than the human consumption of tangible goods, and coming down on his knees, is thankful for the bounty of life. At that point, the self – the ego – has found its place behind that which is bigger and greater.

Unashamedly, Armodoxy is about thankfulness. Thanksgiving is the first prayer of the Armenian Church and for this reason, not only is the month of November dedicated to thanksgiving, but every day of every year, begins with a prayer of thanksgiving.

We prayer, today the prayer of the Psalmist, (95) “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.”

Gratitude: Not an attitude

Armodoxy for Today

Gratitude: More than an Attitude

Often, we have heard the sage advice that attitude is a major component of a healthy life. There are even popular statistical notations that tout that success in life is primarily a function of attitude as opposed to circumstances. No doubt, these quaint sayings are easy to understand but more difficult to implement especially because we look for some backing and proof.

Armodoxy is a history that supplies the proof for the miraculous. Armenians have faced a history of terror, butchery, and barbarous crimes, all contributing to a country and a people that have been void of peace for centuries. Yet the essence of Armenian spiritual prayers and hymns is thanksgiving. The Armenian Church prayer book, Jamakirk, is a collection of praise and worship. In the face of horror, Armenians have composed hymns and recited prayers that reflect thanksgiving and gratitude.

If anyone has a right to protest to God for the horrors inflicted on its people and land, it is the Armenians. Instead of protest, their prayers reach to the highest heavens with praise and worship. It is herein that the Armenians have survived and built life in the face of death, being a living witness to resurrection in the face of crucifixion.

Armodoxy is the witness that gratitude is more than an attitude.

We are reminded of our Lord Jesus’ words, “…I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16)


Next Step with Fr. Vazken #703: Mourning the loss of Gabriel & Katie-Jay Stauring, on this Thanksgiving Day. Personal reflections from Fr. Vazken about the life and legacy of two peacemakers who saw God. What if someone cared in 1915? The answer as is found in the work of Gabriel & Katie-Jay. Thanksgiving for the very special life that touched the world.
iACT Tweet on the passing of Gabriel & Katie-Jay
iACT Refugee Led Solutions
What if someone cared? 2008 Gabriel IHS honor
2015 – 20 Trips Later
2021 – iACT in Armenia
2021 – Interview with Gabriel & Katie-Jay
IHS Greetings of Hope
Joan Baez – Gracias A La Vida
Cover photo: Gabriel & Katie-Jay Stauring in Artsakh
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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