Sermon for Sunday November 15, 2020
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
50, 110, 324, 480, 537, 744, 800, 900, 1200, 2300! Everyday more and more names are added to the list. Everyday more news of loss and pain are adding to our lists. Over 40 days of war, and of news that this week utterly broke our spirits, our hearts and our hope. I don’t think there is an Armenian that was not affected by the news of surrender this past week. Even for us diaspora Armenians, or for us who may be part Armenian, or perhaps we are not at all Armenian but as children of God our hearts ache at the reality of loss. The reality that again Genocide has and continues to take place, that our Churches and graves are desecrated and burned – and the world remains blind, stupid and silent.
Some will say that we may have lost but for 40 days we did our best, our brave soldiers fought continually to turn away the enemy and our loss could have been even greater. Perhaps yes, it is true that 3 million people fought against 100 million and somehow still remain. Perhaps yes, out-manned and outgunned, the children of Hayk and Tigran, Trdat and Gregory, the children of Van, Mush, Erzrum, Gumri, Abaran and Yerevan, together fought off tyranny and terrorism of Turkey and Azerbaijan fueled by the indifference of this world. Perhaps there is some silver lining to what has taken place.
Yes, perhaps, my dears. Perhaps just as we hear the stories of St. Vartan and his soldiers likewise, in a few hundred years our children’s grandchildren will hear stories of our brave soldiers and how this moment changed the course of history for the Armenian people. However, today we lost and we have to acknowledge that loss.
We need to accept that yes, we were defeated on the battlefield. But we need to accept that it is not our soldiers who failed us, who lost our fight. We need to accept that it is not merely the leaders, generals and strategists who lost the war, rather, we all lost this war.
My dear brothers and sisters what pains me is that today, we continue to lose. Seeing what is taking place in Armenia, what is taking place on social media between Armenians, between Christian brothers and sisters – our unity is losing to disillusion; our love is losing to hate; our hope is losing to hopelessness; our justice is losing to injustice; humility is losing to arrogance. We are still losing because we choose to point fingers and say to each other that it is his fault or her fault that we lost. My dears, we are all at fault when we lose. As St. Paul says, “if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26) Yes, today our body is suffering and in order for healing to take place we must acknowledge that pain rather, than lie or blame, point fingers adding fuel to the flame.
My dears, to suffer defeat, loss and death is a reality. No one can avoid it, not on the battlefield of war, not even on the path of our life. We all suffer, we all lose, we all die. In fact, Christ Jesus suffered. Christ was beaten, whipped, spat on, humiliated and crushed. Christ Jesus, hung on the cross, as His blood poured down into the earth. And on that cross, He gave up His spirit and bowed His head. My dear brothers and sisters, today we bow our heads. Today, the blood of our soldiers has poured into the earth and so yes, today we bow our heads in pain, in defeat and in our loss. But we know that we do not bow eternally because the story of the Cross does not end with Christ defeated. Our faith is in a risen Christ Jesus, as St. Paul teaches. Jesus Christ took on death and destroyed it. His love trampled down death by death and gives life to us and all who believe. A belief not in life without loss or suffering; a belief not in life without pain or disappointment; rather, a belief that life continues after we go through pain and suffering with our trust placed in God.
St. Paul tells us to “weep with those who weep” – meaning in our times of loss yes, we must acknowledge our pain. We lost therefore, let us mourn. However, we are still here, we still live. We lived after 105 years, we live today and we shall live tomorrow but we must live with hope, with love, with unity. We must live with wisdom and understanding to work as one body for the glory of God, who raises us up from the ashes. We must understand that the answer is not at the end of a pointed finger but in our open palms and hearts to do work. We must live not with fear of loss but with a spirit and vision of hope in the future.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, yes, let us mourn. Let us cry as we embrace each other. Let us remember those who died and remember everything we have lost. But let us not put our hope in the material or in words of false promises. Let us not look to the world for justice, or blame each other for why this happened. Rather, we must place our hope in God; speak words of prayers and working together create a vision of hope, light, and life. Whether we are suffering because of war, or suffering because of our battles in life, God hears our prayers, God our Father embraces us and suffers with us; and God will raise us up to life. Amen!