Passages: Is. 25:9-26.7; Phil. 1:1-11; Lk. 9:44-50
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. ԻԵ 9 – ԻԶ 7; Փիլիփ. Ա 1-11; Ղկ. Թ 44-50
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Living in the United States, when we ask what takes place in the month of November, almost all of us would answer, Thanksgiving. Every couple of years, November also becomes another important month for those of us living in the United States; election month. Whether it is the Presidential, Congressional, House, Mayoral or other elections, the month of November, since 1845, has been designated as election month. This is an interesting contrast – at the end of every November we recall all the things we are thankful for, we are grateful to God for His blessings and gathering around a dinner table we share a meal, stories, fostering our relationships through love; and yet, in the same month, we are divided, we spew hateful words, and ideas towards one another, we mock those who think differently than us and think we have the answer, in an effort to elect leadership for this country. What a strange ironic paradox, especially for us Christians. Therefore, how do reconcile this? How do we live with this paradox as Christian’s living in the United States?
In the prophet Isaiah we read today, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (v. 19) This is not something new but rather a reminder to us that our Lord God, it is He who is going to save us, protect us, guide and instruct us. For which, St. Paul adds in Philippians, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (vv.3-5) Whether we are living in America, Armenia, Canada, or anywhere else; regardless of the month, day or year, all of us must begin by thanking God, being grateful to God, by praying for each other, having empathy, compassion and mercy towards one another because we recognize that we in our brokenness, in our nakedness, in our sinfulness, we are saved, we are tended for and cared for by God the Father, whom we recognize and grow to know through God the Son, Christ Jesus and God the Holy Spirit. In other words, my dears, the dinner tables we gather around or the elections we participate in should come from a place of love and humility, recognizing that only God as our salvation and our strength in our communion, unity with each other. Or else both the dinner table we gather around or the elections we participate in, the community events we sojourn for, even Church becomes superficial and only serves our self interests.
That is why Christ Jesus, King of Kings chose humility, chose to enter this world and its brokenness; God chooses to be in communion with us, be with us. God looked at you and I, saw our frailty, saw our wounds, and tended to them through compassion, and mercy. In fact, to be more clear, when an argument broke among the disciples about who among them is the greatest, who is the best leader, who should be elected as group leader, Christ didn’t use himself as an example, but rather, “he took a child and put him by his side,and said to them, ‘Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.’” (vv. 47-48) None of us would elect a child to political office, nor would we sit them at the head of our dinner tables. Yet, Christ instructs us to receive that child, receive each other, meaning care for each other, protect, love each other like we would take care and love a child because that child is greater even though they are regarded as the least. Our greatness, our strength, therefore, is not in our place at the dinner table, our titles, age, education; our politics or dress; rather, our greatness is in our humility, in our heart, which we learn and are called to be a reflection of God. Therefore, no there is no paradox of November being a month of elections and thanksgiving.
Rather, it is an opportunity for us as Christian’s to be for the world, our families, our communities, and Church an example, of Christ’s love, compassion and care. To be the light and salt, as Christ calls us. To gather not just at our dinner table at home with loved ones we know and who may be like us, but to also gather around the Lords table, where all are welcome whether they think like us, dress like us, vote like us or not. The Lord’s table is where we learn how to love one another, the Lord’s table is where we learn how to be grateful to God, the Lord’s table is where to learn how to be humble and in our humility our Lord raises us up; from the ashes, from our pain, our sickness, our brokenness, our sinfulness. It is here we recognize who God is and who we are; where we learn that everyday we must be thankful and not just once a month; we learn here that He calls all of us to be leaders, stewards, caretakers of this world, our communities and Churches not just a few individual leaders we elect.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, rather than living in a dichotomy, where we talk about thankfulness and yet, tear each other down, let us see the child in each other, the one whom Christ places us His knee. Let us be that child, with a pure heart, love and compassion towards one another. Let us pray every day for each other by name (we all know each other’s names, but how often do we actually pray for each other by name). Pray and ask for God’s healing love and mercy for one another. Recognize and thank God for this day and every day; Know that He is the only one who can and will save us when we call upon His Holy name. Lord to God in the Highest, Amen!