Der Vasken's Sermon on August 6, 2017

Aug 10, 2017

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

These last two weeks, I was engaged in interesting conversations with young people ages 8-15 years old.  And I want to share a little bit with you today. 

I had the "privilege" of serving our Diocesan St. Vartan Camp program the last couple of weeks, and there our young people are looking for role models. 

We spoke about the life of a woman who lived a very long time ago.  This woman was an Armenian Princess.  And this Armenian Princess had everything she could ever want placed before her every day.  Yet, her heart wanted something that neither her money, nor her power could buy.  We spoke about St. Santookht, the first Armenian Christian Martyr.

A week ago, the Armenian Church celebrated the Feasts of Saints Thaddeus the Apostle and Santookht the Princess.   St. Santookht was the daughter of King Sanadrook of Armenia back in the 1st century.  She converted to the Christian faith after having spent time with the Apostle Thaddeus.  Santookht was captivated by the stories Thaddeus shared and taught about the life and teachings, and about the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth.  He taught the young Princess all about Jesus Christ; and all that He had said and done in and around Jerusalem.  He told her how Jesus led by example.  He told her how Jesus led great numbers of people back to living their lives around Faith, and Hope, and Love, and around Forgiveness, and around placing their Trust in God, like they never had before.  Through the Apostle Thaddeus, the Princess learned to follow the example of the Son of God; and she chose to give up her "way of life," to follow His example.  She chose to give up her Crown and Title, the Crown and Title of her father's kingdom; to pick up the Crown of Heaven, and wear the Title of the Christian Faith.  Thaddeus encouraged the Princess not to conform to the ways around her, but to transform herself with the promises of Christianity.

Who is the Shepherd whose example Santookht followed?

One of the most familiar verses of the Bible begins with the words:  "The Lord is my Shepherd . . ."  These are the opening words of the 23rd Psalm.  Saying that "the Lord is my Shepherd" is to say that we are aware and mindful of the many bad things that could happen to us and to our loved ones.   That we live in an unpredictable, and often unexplainable world.

But despite it all, we can face our world everyday because we know that there is a Shepherd in it Who cares about us and who embraces us with His opened arms.  "As our Shepherd," God is that Presence in our lives that makes the world much less frightening.  

The main message of the 23rd Psalm is not that bad things will not happen to us, but it is that we will not have to face those bad things alone, for God is with us.

The headlines of tomorrow will still report the violence and tragedies around us.  And news bulletins on radio, television, or the internet, will be no less alarming.  But, as Christians, we face the world with more courage and more confidence because we will not be facing it alone.  For the Lord is our Shepherd and His Example is always with us. 

So, as you leave here, ask yourself:

  • Whose example do you follow in your life today?
  • And what about that example attracts your attention?

Last week, was the Feast of Saints Thaddeus and Santookht.  They chose to follow the example of Jesus Christ.  May we do likewise in our lives.

  • Whose example do you follow in your life today? 
  • And what about that example attracts your attention?

Something to think about.

Amen.