Der Vasken's Sermon on June 16, 2019

Jun 18, 2019

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

An Honor, a Commitment, a Sacred Duty.

In anticipation of today, I tried to put a definition to the term "fatherhood" and this was what I came up with.  Fatherhood is an honor, a commitment, a sacred duty.  Today, from coast to coast all across the United States, Father's Day will be observed and that gives us a chance to reflect, with gratitude, the deeper meaning of fatherhood.  

If you think about it, the culture that surrounds our lives, especially the "Pop Culture," sometimes falls short on projecting fatherhood in the proper light.  And although I enjoy much of what "Pop Culture" has to offer, it often fails to treat fatherhood or motherhood or parenthood with the due respect or seriousness these divine institutions of our lives so deserve.

Fatherhood, motherhood and parenthood are riches given to us from God.

  • They are blessed by Heaven.
  • They are endorsed by God Himself.
  • And they are valuable to us far beyond anything that has to do with a biological meaning.
And so, as I said, if you think about it, the culture, that surrounds our lives, sometimes falls short on projecting fatherhood in the proper light.  When I grew up, like many of you, fatherhood in Pop Culture produced men of character.  Back then, fathers were respected.  They were respected for "carrying the mantle of the family" forward.  They were respected for their wise counsel or for their life experience.

Today, in stark contrast, in many of the images portrayed about fatherhood in Pop Culture, the father is either missing from the picture all together or the joke or the gag of every scenario imaginable.  Gone is the wise counselor.  Gone is the respect and honor and love.  And to me, that's simply a shame because, I know, these images enter too many good homes, and they affect the home in very unchristian ways.

Today's image of fatherhood is very different (than it was in the past) than how the Armenian Church views fatherhood.  The Armenian Church places great reverence upon our fathers and mothers and to the role they play in the life of the family because, to no surprise to any of us, the Armenian Church values the parental role as vital in raising the Children of God in this world.

From time to time over the years, people have approached me to share a story, to share a joy in their life or to share a heartache they are dealing with.  But even more than sharing something, I am asked a number of questions--different questions from different people.  Sometimes those questions are unique and very specific; other times it is a question I have heard before.  

One of those more common questions deals with the Book on the altar where I stand during Badarak.  They have noticed that, during the Badarak, I read silently from the large Book that sits on the altar table.  And so, over the years, I have been asked a number of times what it is that I am reading while the choir sings and the deacons chant.  And so I briefly share with them that I am reading prayers on behalf of them and on behalf of everyone in church.

Through those prayers:

  • I pray over what  the chalice holds;
  • I pray over the Bread and the Wine;
  • I pray for the living and the dead;
  • I pray for their forgiveness;
  • I pray for the Intercession of the Saints;
  • And I pray for the Angels of God to guard us all.
Today, I want to end by sharing a short portion of those prayers.  This prayer speaks about fatherhood, but first, let me say this.  The greatest tribute we pay to fatherhood lies in the way we apply the word "Father" to God.  Christians were the first people of the world to call God "Our Father" and that's a privilege and that is beautifully conveyed in this private prayer of the Badarak. 

Listen to the words:  "God of truth and Father of mercy, we are grateful that you have exalted us above  even the patriarchs of the Old Testament.  For you were called 'God' by them, but You are pleased to be called 'Father' by us."  The priest recites this prayer right before the congregation sings the "Hayr Mer" Lord's Prayer, reminding us that it was Jesus Christ Himself, Who taught us to call God "Our Father."  And when we think of God in terms of His Fatherhood, we should understand "godliness" to be "the duty" to which all fathers are called. 

Today, let's thank the fathers, who bless our lives and let's honor those fathers, who have departed this world.  Their role, their duty, comes from the image of God Himself.  And let's remember we become stronger families when we allow the fatherhood of God to enter our homes.  So on this Father's Day, ask yourself:

  • Do you take time to pray each day?
  • And in that time of prayer, do you ask God to help you and your family reflect His Love?
Happy Father's Day to all our dads.

Amen.