Der Vasken’s Sermon on April 24, 2022

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

Last evening, like some of you, I attended an annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration for the Greater Boston Armenian Community and again, this afternoon, our church will fill with the sounds of traditional Armenian music and poetry to mark the 107th Anniversary of what has come to be known as the darkest period in our ancient history.

Every year the number of events and the style of the events vary greatly based on the organizing committee’s hopes and wishes. Each event is unique in style. Each event reflects the spirit of our people. I am personally very gratified to be a part of these events and programs every year. For me, they are part of something much beyond remembering a tragic event. They are deeper and more personal than simply facts and figures. It’s about what we spoke about last week on Easter Sunday.

We spoke about the two sides of the Cross of Jesus Christ and we asked: Is the Cross symbol of darkness and evil for you or is it a symbol of Christ’s triumph over evil and darkness? Is the Cross a symbol of death or a symbol of light? There are two sides of the Cross of Jesus Christ—the Crucifixion side and the Resurrection side.

For the fifty days following Easter, we continue the celebration of the Resurrection. In fact, today is called New Sunday to remind us all that with the Resurrection came a New Life, but this year, April 24th falls on this New Sunday. So how do we understand both and reconcile the two?

April 24th is part of the ongoing mystery of evil—deep, persistent, mind-boggling evil. It seems that almost every day we are faced with the terrible reality that evil exists in our world—as if Satan and his evil have been let loose on the world. Most of us don’t feel as secure as we once did. We collectively look over our shoulders and when we do, many of us ask: “Where is God in all this evil?” So how do we find the answer to that question when evil finds us?

Here is a biblical perspective. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, we see two main streams of power running throughout history. One stream is evil. Evil seizes what is good and ruins it. Since the fall of Adam & Eve, we live in a world often flooded by this stream and that is the bad news. The good news is that God lets loose His own stream of power to fix what evil has ruined, but here is the catch. God has chosen to exercise His power through you and me. It’s the promise that faith in the “other side of the Cross” enables people to overcome evil.

In other words, it is the simple decency and every day faith of people that will bring out Good from what is Bad. We catch glimpses of that decency most every time we hear about evil lifting its sinful hear in our world. We hear about people like this all the time—people who lift others up and not tear them down; people who help the fallen stand back up; people who put themselves second to the needs of others. When we do this, heroes emerge—firefighters, police officers, teachers defending their students and on and on.

We hear countless stories of people like this when faced with danger. They save someone they don’t know personally—no thought of fame or celebrity status; no thought of personal safety. It’s just a willingness to perform a loving and heroic deed for someone in need. These are everyday people who show us that God is present in our world even in the darkest moments.

The truth is that in this world of often times spectacular evil, God’s presence is silently here and it doesn’t need to be spectacular. God doesn’t chase the limelight that evil thirsts for. God’s power is present every day as a steady crossing guard at an elementary school, as faithful as a nurse holding a hand by a hospital bedside, as tender as a caregiver to the elderly, as firm as the hug of a child, as expected as the morning’s sun and as predictable as a parent who every day provides a warm bed, food on the table, clothes on the backs of their children and comfort in times of stress and tragedy.

Here is the take-away from today. It is the people of faith who share God’s Light in this world wherever there is darkness. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ makes all things new again. It creates an equal ground in which we can all help make our world a better place. There are two sides of the Cross of Jesus Christ—the side upon which He died and evil smiled and the side upon which He changed the course of the world and made all things new again.

That is the side we display high upon our church domes, wear around our necks and baptize, marry and bury our loved ones under. That is the Cross of Jesus Christ who unconditionally quietly and faithfully gave the world another chance.

So let us leave here today thinking about where does God need you to shine His Light into the world around you? What is it you seek from the Resurrection side of the Cross? There are two sides of the Cross of Jesus Christ—One is dead and the other lives forever. What is it you seek from the living side?

Amen.

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