Archive for November, 2014

Advent Reflection

November 26th, 2014    |    No Comments »

On the Second Sunday of Advent (Յիսնակ/Heesnag), we read the parable of the fruitless fig tree. This story serves as a picture of fallen humanity in the garden, where Christ, the keeper of the vineyard, is the intercessor on our behalf. It is He who gives us the privilege and chance to serve Him and others.

Just as the fig tree grows, as we grow we should bear fruit. Contributing fruit to the world, to others, and to the Church, and all of these ultimately to God. In Matthew’s Gospel (7:15-20) we read, “Beware of false prophets…You will know them by their fruits…So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.”

Like the fig tree, we don’t always bear fruit. But God doesn’t just throw us away as being useless. He gives another chance, and more than once. But how does God help us bear fruit? Sometimes, Jesus sends others to help us grow in our faith and bear fruit. They can either challenge us, giving us the opportunity to show and grow in character, or they can offer a helping hand in our time of need. During the first week of Advent, the Armenian Church commemorates Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew. They chose to help others for the sake of the Gospel, specifically those who lived in Armenia. Serving Jesus was their priority during the time they were given by God.

From this parable we learn that God loves us, but also out of that love, He gives us chances; He understands our limitations of time and ability. This week, as we continue to take time to prepare and look forward to Theophany, be more aware of our limited time to change our lives and serve God. Just like Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew, practice spreading the Gospel by helping others. Be fruitful: Take some time to help the poor and homeless. Forgive someone, and bring reconciliation to a broken relationship. And love one another.

Second Sunday of Advent Lectionary readings:

Isaiah 36:22-37:11

I Thessalonians 4:1-11

Luke 13:1-9

I Thessalonians 4:3-11 – What is God’s will for us? That we should set ourselves apart to Him to live a holy life, as we walk with Him in faith and obedience. What should be some results? To love one another more than we already do, to live quietly, mind our own business, and work hard.

The parable of the fruitless fig tree

Advent Reflections

November 19th, 2014    |    No Comments »

Յիսնակ (Heesnag) or Advent, beginning on the Monday nearest November 18th, is the seven weeks preceding Theophany, consisting of approximately 50 days. It is comprised of three ancient one-week fasts, but later they came to define the entire transition period between the season of the Cross and Theophany.

We also take this time to prepare and look forward to Theophany, the birth and baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the wilderness, John the Baptist announced the coming of Christ into the world, quoting the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” During Advent we also prepare the way of the Lord.

Why are we waiting? Didn’t the Savior already come into the world? Today, what does it mean to prepare ourselves for the coming Savior? The hope of Christ’s birth still remains with us. We anticipate His coming, and the hope that comes from remembering His birth helps us focus our lives on the peace that brought God and humanity together through the coming of His Son.

This week, be more conscious in times of waiting, such as in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, or even looking forward to a holiday gathering or event. Practice patience, and think about the value of waiting and anticipating.

First Sunday of Advent Lectionary readings:

Isaiah 36:1-9
I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Luke 12:13-31

I Thessalonians 1:6-7 – How can we become better imitators of the Lord, to the point that our faith becomes known, like those of the church of the Thessalonians?

 

— Eric Vozzy is a student at St. Nersess Seminary. He works in the Diocese’s Department of Christian Education.

 

Advent

The Bodiless Powers

November 7th, 2014    |    No Comments »

Every year, a Saturday in early November brings us to one of the more unusual observances of the Armenian Church calendar: the feast day dedicated to the holy archangels Michael and Gabriel. We’ll greet it again this weekend, on November 8.

Angels in popular culture seem like benign, even childlike beings. But the Bible depicts them as something else entirely—something truly incomprehensible to the human mind. “Fear not!” is the characteristic greeting that issues from an angel when it is sent to converse with a human being—suggesting that there is something potentially terrifying in our encounters with them.

The multitude of angels make up the “heavenly hosts”—the armies of God waging an invisible war against evil forces. The archangel Michael (whose name means “Who is equal to God?”) is symbolically shown as a warrior who protects God’s people and contends with Satan; Gabriel (“God is my strength”) is best known as the messenger who announced Christ’s impending birth to St. Mary.

The Christian tradition regards the angels as “bodiless powers”: thought without physicality; will without animal substance; beings of pure spirit, who do not occupy even a single point in space. The very possibility of such creatures opens up deep questions about our experience of the material universe—and about man himself. For example: Are our thoughts just chemical reactions, or is human intelligence itself a sign of something beyond and above physical existence?

In that sense, the idea of angels enlarges our understanding of the universe that God has created, and of the place He has given to His human creations.

angels2