Tag Archive for: Theophany


The Universe is an ordered system of bodies, forces and interactions. The Armenian Church organizes its liturgies and events according to a calendar. The post-Theophany period counts of 40 days to the event of “Dyaruntarch” or the Presentation, described in Luke chapter 2. During this 40 day period, the events leading up to the Theophany are examine in Holy Scripture.

Often the Nativity of Christ, commonly referred to as Christmas, is considered as the first of all celebrations of Jesus Christ’s life. In fact, the Nativity, as well as every other celebration, is defined by the Resurrection, that is, the Easter celebration. In Jesus’ resurrection, death was conquered. “Christ has risen from the grave” was the first “gospel” of the Christian Church. Gospel means, the “Good News.” You might imagine that after the Resurrection, the early Christian community was completely baffled and in shock. They had witnessed the violent death of Jesus, an execution so heinously delivered that nobody would have believed that anyone could have possibly survived that death. And there was no reason to even consider Jesus’ survival because they removed his breathless body from the Cross and placed his body in a tomb. Resurrection was not even considered. But early that morning, Holy Scripture tells us, the visitors to the grave were surprised to find Jesus’ tomb empty.

The Christian Community, which became the Church, was defined by the Resurrection of Christ. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) finds its meaning because of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. It was because of the Resurrection that people began to inquire about Jesus and his history, that is, who is he? Where did he come from? Who are his parents? And so on…

The Gospel narratives were written to share the Good News. The Good News was contained in the person of Jesus Christ. The Nativity narratives in St. Matthew and St. Luke’s Gospels were presented to answers questions people had about Jesus’ background: What were the circumstances surrounding his birth? Where was he from? What was the connection with Joseph the Carpenter?

As you recall, in preparation for the Theophany (the Advent period we just concluded) we focused on our spiritual growth to accept the power of the Theophany. Now, we too, like the early Christians, will look a back at the stories that come from Jesus’ childhood. For this reason, the Armenian Church assigns the Nativity narratives to the days following Theophany. The stories we are all familiar with peripherally, will be the focus of our next journey on the road to the Presentation or Diaruntarch.

We begin tomorrow with the stories that lead to the Birth of Christ, from the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Each day, we will read the Scripture and find the threads that tie the Birth of Christ, and to our lives today.

Let us pray, Lord Jesus Christ, we are in the joy celebrating your Nativity and Revelation. We stand in awe of your presence in our life. Open our hearts and our minds to all that is You, as we begin in our Scriptural study of the Nativity narratives. May your holy name be glorified today and always. Amen.

Theophany Sermon 2023

Theophany 2023 – Sermon by Fr. Vazken Movsesian
at the St. Gregory Armenian Church, Pasadena, California
6 January 2023
Sermon delivered in Armenian and English
Fast forward to minute 12:45 for English Sermon
Excerpt from Divine Liturgy in its entirety

Baptism Revelation: Theophany

We have arrived at the Theophany. Advent has prepared us to accept the great news: Christ is Born and Revealed. More than a “Christmas Celebration” we now understand that this is the Revelation of God to the world. “God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) says the Scripture that most have learned by heart. Following Advent and this Advent Journey, I trust that these words resonate deep in your spiritual consciousness.

It is not by accident that we haven’t spoken about the virgin birth, the obedience of Joseph, the visit of the Magi or the shepherds’ vigil until now. Today we move to the Baptism of Jesus, which is recorded by all the evangelists in their gospels. It was after his baptism, that Jesus began his ministry. In a very real sense, his baptism was the “birth” of him ministry; it was immediately after his baptism that Jesus went into seclusion and began the period of his life that we read in the Gospels. Reading the account of St. Matthew (chapter 3) we find, “Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

At this one moment in history, God is revealed as the Holy Trinity. The Son of God stands next to John the Baptist in the River Jordon, the Holy Spirit of God descends on Jesus in a dovelike manner and the voice of God the Father is heard. The Holy Trinity is revealed at this moment in History. Hence, the name of the Feast is “Theophany” = the Revelation of God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.  The Armenian word for the feast is Asdvadzahaydnoutiun, which is a literal transition of God is revealed.

In the Armenian Church the Feast of Theophany encompasses all of the events in the life of our Lord Jesus from his Birth to his Baptism. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, water is blessed to symbolize the Baptism of Jesus. Into the water is poured Holy Miuron, that is chrism or “Holy Oil” which is made up of the essence of forty different flowers indigenous to the Arartian plateau in Armenia. It is blessed every seven years by the head of the Armenian Church, who is referred to as the Catholicos, or the chief bishop. During the Blessing of Miuron, some of the previous batch is poured into the new batch. Technically, there are molecules in the miuron from the time of Christ. This is the strength of the Apostolic continuity of the Armenian Church.

Today is a new beginning. It is a new day of celebration. In modern terms, you can think of it as a hard-reset, it is like hitting the reset button on your device and coming back to the original form.

Now that you have arrived at Theophany after an intense period of Advent, I invite you to follow along the daily podcasts, “Armodoxy for Today” where we will explore the intricacies of the Armenian Church and her faith. We’ll learn where do the Christmas narratives of shepherds, wisemen and stars fit into our Faith? What is the mystical and magical quality of Holy Miuron? What is the strength of the Holy Divine Liturgy that is repeated every week? Mostly, Armodoxy for Today will connect the dots between the relationships and aspects of our lives with the beauty of God’s Kingdom and His Love and Kindness for each of us. I look forward to having you join us.

For today, we play the hymn of the synaxis dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. It is meditative and I invite you to be swept away by the melody and this celebration by the Luyse Vocal Quintet.


Armodoxy for Today: Revelation (Eve of Theophany)

It is the eve of Theophany. And you might expect a message about a babe in a mangers or a star in the sky, but instead we take a detour and present a story from the Old Testament with a surprising twist at the end that connects to the Revelation of God that is celebrated on Theophany.

There is a tradition in the Armenian Church to chant “The Song of the Three” from the Book of Daniel (chapter 3) at the Eve of Theophany. Four chanters come before the altar, one narrates the Scripture while the other three sing a song of rebellion against the powers of the world and pledge their loyalty to God.

Many stories from the Old Testament feature royalty, and this one doesn’t disappoint. This about a king who is as unique as his name, Nebuchadnezzar. As the story is read, he has constructed a huge gold statue celebrating himself and his magnificent prowess. He has sent out an order for everyone in his kingdom to come forward, pay homage and worship before the statue. Should anyone refuse to do so, the penalty was death by means of a fiery furnace. Three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, refuse the order of the King. The orders for punishment are carried out and Shadrah, Meshach and Abed-Nego are thrown into the fiery furnace. They go in singing the praises of God and survive the heat and flames.

Their song, “The Song of the Three,”* says, “O Nebuchadnezzar, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar is furious at their contempt and their rebellious attitude. He has the heat turned up seven fold. The three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, continue to sing the praise of God.

The narrator continues, “Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king’s command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

God is revealed! On the Eve of Theophany, the Eve of the Celebration of Jesus Christ being born and revealed, this Scriptural passage is read in all the Armenian Churches as a reminder that during our worst moments, when the heat is on and even exceeding normal expectations of survival, God is revealed and in our midst. He never abandons us. The story of the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego is retold as a prelude to the greatest story ever told, a prelude to the Birth of the Savior, who stands with us during our most difficult moments and a loving and caring God who never abandons us.

Tonight we greet one another with the great news: Christ is born and revealed, blessed be the revelation of Christ!

Let us pray, “O Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On this evening you entered the world. The Word was made Incarnate. You stand with us during our trials and tribulations. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Keep the freshness of this story ever present in my life. Tonight we finish our Advent Journey and I proclaim the great news that you are born and revealed. May those who hear turn to the Truth and may I never turn away from this connection to Life. In all things I praise you along with the Father and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

*Note: The story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the three men can be found in Daniel 3 and I strongly urge that you read it in its entirety. The Song of the Three is part of the Armenian canon, that is, it is in the Traditional Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bible. Unfortunately, the Protestants (including the Armenian evangelical churches), have removed the Song of the Three from the Holy Scriptures along with several other books, and placed them in a group of books labeled as “Apocrypha (that is, “Hidden”). For the Armenian Church, Holy Scripture cannot be discarded.


Armodoxy for Today: Theophany

When we first began to journey through Advent I mentioned that there are three Gospel narratives concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. We are all familiar with St. Matthew’s account of the Nativity, with the virgin birth, to the visit of the Magi. Likewise we know that St. Luke presents the Nativity in the context of the census and with Joseph and Mary finding a birthing area in a barn because there was “no room at the inn.” The angels herald the Good News with the words “Peace on Earth and good will among men.”

The third Nativity story does not read like the other two. It is recorded by the Evangelist St. John in His Gospel. The time referenced is not two thousand years ago, rather it at the beginning of all time. It reads as follows:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

The final narrative, the one according to St. John, is about the eternal presence of the Christ. The holy words of scripture point to the Eternal One, the Creator and the Source of Light. And now, “The Word became flesh” and “Dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (14)

We refer to this event as the Theophany, that is, the Revelation of God. In Armenian, the word is descriptive of the event, Asdvadzahaydnutiun. In Jesus Christ, God is revealed to humanity. The Nativity is part of the Theophany. He that was at the beginning, the One that took nothing and created the stars and the sky, the sea and scenery, is now in our midst. Advent has prepared us for this moment and we now understand that no matter how long we prepare, we can never be prepared enough to stand in His presence. It is only by His grace that we can find the expression of awe that lifts up from our inner being.

January 6 is the feast of Theophany, Asdvadzahaydnutiun. It arrives in two days. The 50 days of Advent have been filled with lessons from Holy Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are ready to view the Theophany through the lens of Armodoxy. That means, with awe we await to witness the Nativity from Bethlehem to our homes. We look up to the heavens and see the shining star guiding us to the stable where the Child Jesus is wrapped in swaddling clothe and lays in a major. And the spot under the star is in our neighborhood, close to home. We now understand that the star shines above Artsakh, Ukraine, the Congo, Ecuador, and San Salvador because most of all, we understand that Jesus Christ is revealed under each of these locations. Tomorrow comes a revelation of God, on the eve of the Birth of Christ.

Let us pray, Lord God, on this Holy Day you came into a world in the most lowly of all conditions. You came to share Your Divine message with us. Fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit. Give us strength to marvel at the wonders of this Day and to stand in awe. Give us the perception to see the star of Bethlehem everywhere where you are born to those in need, to us and those who hurt.  I thank you for giving me the opportunity to be witnesses to this blessing. Amen.

Service, the Last Stop

Armodoxy for Today: Service

We started this journey at the direction of the Church almost 50 days ago. Advent, meaning coming. We have prepared ourselves for the coming of Christ – the Nativity, or in more distinct terms, the Theophany. Preparation has been emotional, spiritual and even physical with the scriptural passages and the exercises prescribed to us by the Church.

The last stop on the Advent Journey is the passage that comes to us from the Gospel of St. Luke and is read during the last Sunday worship before Theophany. It reads as follows:

Now there was also a dispute among [the Disciples], as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” (22:24-28)

This is the “last station stop,” so to speak, before the celebration of the Theophany. Having learned the lessons of the last six weeks, today we move on to service. Jesus tells us, in no uncertain terms, that he comes to us to serve and sets himself as an example for all of us to do the same: to serve one another. During his last supper with his disciples, he further demonstrates the message of service by washing the feet of the disciples (see John 13).

We find this as the last station stop because in order to serve you must first be spiritually and emotionally ready. This means you must be rid of egotism that will restrict or forbid you from serving others. Christian service is selfless, in other words, it demands that the self be put on hold while you tend to the needs of others. Without the training of the last six weeks, service would be extremely difficult because emotionally you were not at the spot to cast aside selfish pleasures to be able to help someone else. Service comes from an empathetic heart. Empathy is the result of understanding the pain of others, or walking in their shoes.

The path of Armodoxy is simple and interconnected. Today you are one step closer to the great news that Christ is in our Midst. Tomorrow, Theophany will be explained.

Let us pray, O Lord, Jesus Christ, you have given us an example of loving and serving. May we be worthy to be called your Living Body, the Church by loving and caring for others. Allow me to see the hurting world and the pain of people, and answer with my ability to serve others. Give me the strength and courage to express my love to all. Amen.


Armodoxy for Today: The Solstice

A few years back, I found myself in a village in Rwanda working with genocide survivors. We conducted some informal interviews, became familiar with their daily activities and then, as the sun went down, people wound down, and pretty soon, 7:00PM, in the dark of the night, people were in their homes preparing for their evening rest. There was no sound throughout the village. I thought it odd that people would be preparing to sleep at this early hour. And then it occurred to me, that without electricity, without the artificial lighting that the electricity provides, for all intents and purposes the day was over with the sun set.

Today we celebrate the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. From the Summer Solstice to this day, the days have gotten shorter and shorter, and now, moving forward, there will be more hours of daylight per day to live and enjoy. In a world without electricity, you might imagine how welcomed the longer days ahead would be, so welcomed, that this day would be celebrated as the “birth of the sun.” Indeed, the sun stays out longer giving more possibilities for work, play, socializing, that is, possibilities for life!

To facilitate the spread of Christianity, the date of the Birth of Christ was moved to December 25 in the Roman Empire during the fourth century. Celebrating the birth of the Sun was replaced with the Christmas festivities, in honor of the birth of the Son! Meanwhile in Armenia, during the fourth century, the Winter Solstice was not celebrated to the extent it was in the Roman Empire. The date of Christmas was not changed and January 6 remains as the celebration date for Theophany. There are more factors for the different Christmas dates, but for today, suffice it to say, that Armenia was not touched by the date change. Until today, the Armenian Church celebrates the Nativity and Baptism of Christ on the same date, January 6.

The Solstice points to the cosmic time lock that has seasons and times changing over the globe. It’s a reminder that some of the great treasures of our Faith are found in the simplest phenomena of nature. Whether the birth of the sun or the birth of the son, there is a common thread that runs through both, namely, light. They are both gifts of light to the world.

How we process this revelation in the Christmas message, is how Armodoxy fits in to our cosmology. Join me tomorrow as we continue in the Advent Journey.


Armodoxy for Today: Rhythms

This week of Advent begins with a scriptural reading from Hebrews chapter 1. It reads like an essay, explaining that God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The scripture reads, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

This introduction to the book we have landed on today, namely Hebrews, has a cosmic flavor to it. Interestingly enough we read it in the Church during the week of the Winter Solstice.

The author of Hebrews continues his writing setting apart the Son of God from the angels, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’” For the author of this scriptural treasure, it is important to set Jesus apart from all of creation. As we recite in the Nicene Creed, “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of God the Father, only-begotten, that is of the substance of the Father. God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten and not made; of the same nature of the Father, by whom all things came into being in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, took body, became man, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. By whom he took body, soul and mind and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.”

When we talk about the Apostolic Church, we are speaking of the Church at the time of the Apostles. There was no Bible at the time. There was only the community of believers that assembled together to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be encouraged by one another. The Apostolic Church, and later the early Church, understood the Church and the Christian expression as part of a rhythm of the universe that began at Creation and then experienced the Fall because of our actions against the rhythm and harmony of the universe.

Christ is set apart. Christ comes to put us back into harmony and in rhythm with the universe, that is all of creation.

We are traveling through the period of Advent in preparation of welcoming the Nativity and Revelation of God in our lives. Today, we stop and hear the message of harmony and rhythm. We are a day off of the Winter Solstice. We look within at our lives and we look without at the patterns of nature. Christmas is near.

Let us pray a prayer that comes to us from Holy Scripture for the Book of Sirac, (43)  The beauty of the celestial height and the pure firmament, heaven itself manifests its glory. The sun at its rising shines at its fullest, a wonderful instrument, the work of the Most High! Let us praise Him the more, since we cannot fathom him, for greater is He than all his works; Awesome indeed is the LORD, and wonderful His power. Lift up your voices to glorify the LORD as much as you can, for there is still more. For who has seen him and can describe him? Who can praise him as he is? Beyond these, many things lie hidden; only a few of his works have I seen. It is the LORD who has made all things; to those who fear him he gives wisdom.

Permanent and yet Relevant

Next Step #605: The week of Theophany (the RESET button) and the revelation of God from the Armodox perspective. Searching for a permanence in a message that has to remain pertinent and relevant. Emmanuel: God with us – even in the fiery furnace in the song of three. And some of the insanity of greetings: the War and the Golden Globes, Priests and mechanics. Water Blessing at the hospitals and theophany. More…
Spirit – Hayr Mer – Gor Mkhitarian
Shaddrak Mishak Abendego, Louise Armstrong
Kim Kardashian’s wish for Armenian Christmas
Song of the Three (Bible)
Dates of Christmas (AC101 #25)
Cover: “Quiver Trees” Bing photo
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! 

This is 2020

Next Step #604: With the new decade, more searches for relevance – finding Faith after Sunday morning and throughout the week. Theophany – a point of singularity for your Faith. The Lion King’s gesture of praise and the blessing for a group on Christmas Eve. Bonhoeffer’s “Cheap Grace” and Christmas gift giving customs. Eighth Day “Milking Maid”. All the things you don’t need to say at Theophany.
Hover State Chamber Choir
VW: The Last Mile
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Motorcycle in the Smithsonian
Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship
This is 20/20” Anderson Cooper and Barbara Walter
Cover Photo – Winter, Bing photo
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! 

Tag Archive for: Theophany

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria