Passages: Zech. 2:10-13; 2 Corinth. 6:16-7:1; Lk. 1:39-56
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Զաք. Բ 10-13; Բ Կորնց. Զ 16- Է 1; Ղուկ. Բ 39-56
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
It’s that time of year again, where students and teachers gather for a new school year. Excited to learn new things and create new experiences. Personally, I was not the most enthusiastic student. Without fail, within the first 15 minutes of my morning classes I would start falling asleep and lose focus on what was going on. Maybe it was because it was early in the morning, and I barely slept the night before, or maybe it was because the classroom was warm. But even classes after lunch or in the middle of winter when the weather was cold, without fail, I dozed off. This pattern continued to college and even into seminary life. While nestled in the cozy lecture halls, hearing about theology, history, and stories about what happened hundreds of years ago. If my class was any bigger and they didn’t take attendance, I’m sure I may have just slept in my bed altogether. Of course, now that I have grown up I have a sense of regret of the time lost. The amazing things I’ve learned pale in comparison to how much more I could have learned whether in seminary, college or High School. I am sure most of us have experienced this same scenario. And perhaps many of us feel some form of nostalgia, thinking back to our education years and perhaps the time, money and opportunities we wasted. Yet, this exact same experience is what many of us feel when it comes to our faith and Church attendance.
We fall asleep during the sermon, our attention is everywhere else but here. Church is too early, Church is long and feels like its unending and daunting. The warmth of the Church, the smells, the music accompanied by us being tired and uninterested. The result is a Christian faith that feels like being back in high school or college, pointless and boring. Sure we know we are Christian but we are void of any real knowledge, love, growth and especially personally connection to what is being offered through the services. It’s no wonder why our Churches are emptying, and people are looking for fulfillment elsewhere. It’s no wonder that we grow up thinking that Church is merely an institution that is trying to control our behavior or scare us with stories of heaven and hell. However, my dear, our Christian faith is not about controlling our behavior, nor is our faith, the teachings of the Church and the liturgy designed to bore us, put us to sleep or waste our time.
The prophet St. Zechariah writes, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people…” Sing and rejoice! Celebrate! Shout for joy, dance, and be ecstatic because God is with us, and we are with Him. How many of us see our Christian faith as a cause for celebration? How many of us recognize that the Badarak, the sermons, Bible Studies, the conversations with our priest are given to us by God as a means to rejoice, sing and see God’s presence in our daily life? vs. how many of us are falling asleep, wasting those opportunities, making excuses or completely ignoring there importance? To answer this question, we need to take time personally reflecting on these questions. But self-reflection can be difficult when we face the truth that perhaps we don’t care, faith is too hard, we come to Church for a different purpose, or we don’t want to change. Because my dears, though Christianity is not about controlling behavior, it is about Holy Communion, being one with God and when we are in Holy Communion, when we are truthfully children of God, then we cannot help but be changed and transformed into being God’s presence in this world. Whether that means by loving, caring for each other, being merciful or educating; whether this means as an individual, as a parent, a friend, stranger or spouse; each one of us is called uniquely to bring God’s presence into this world.
Remember last week when we spoke about why St. Mary is so beloved by the Church; she became the willing example through whom God took on flesh in the same way we are called to bring God into the flesh willingly. Each one of us will do this differently, beautifully, and magnificently. If only we don’t fall asleep, take care of those opportunities we have, to learn, ask questions, and live. That is why we pray not for material wealth but spiritual clarify, that is why we examine our conscience not to see if we are nice people or if we know theology but rather if we truly love God and desire to know Him. Doing so we will see how truly rejoicing and celebratory our Christian faith is even in hardship, pain or difficulty. We rejoice knowing that God is in our midst, God is with us, renewing, transforming, and strengthening us even when the world says we are worthless, we have failed, we mean nothing or when we are surrounded by darkness.
Therefore, sing, rejoice, dance, jump up and down, raise the roof and raise each other up. Be awakened and know that God is with us, God is in us, and we are called to bring God to others, bring healing, laughter, love, hope and resurrection to others. Come to Church and sing praise and thanksgiving to God. Rejoice not because Der Hayr might take attendance in Church, or he can see you yawning; nor because the choir sounds nice but rejoice because of the love of God. A love that God, Christ Jesus came by and defeated the only power that chained us down. A love in our life that when we truly know and believe in Him, entrust our life to Him, follow Him, then picking up our cross, magnifying Him as St. Mary says, and giving glory to Him will always be a joyful celebration. Glory be to You o` Lord our God, glory be to you, for everything O Lord we give you glory, now and forever, Amen!