Der Vasken’s Sermon on November 5, 2023

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

“Der Vasken, people in general just seem to go with the flow these days.”

I attended a gathering this weekend in New Jersey that honored graduates of the St. Nersess Seminary, who are now serving in ministries throughout the Armenian Church all across North America. One graduate, who I hadn’t seen in many, many years, made that comment to me as we were speaking. We were discussing the feeling he had about certain people he served over the years.

Let me be clear. He wasn’t complaining. He was simply stating his observations. It’s a temptation to go along with the flower as they say. To float along with the stream, to live from one day to the next and somehow never make any meaningful or important decisions. For many people, going along with the flow is the style of today. Some people resist having to decide or make decisions. They let choices be made for them by others, by events or by the world around them. I think we all know of people like this. They do what others do. They think what others think. They choose what others choose. They say what others say.

I have noticed this myself especially when I hear people let their spiritual and moral choices be made by our surrounding culture—those choices that shape our life and soul. It’s like they pick and choose bits and pieces of what people around them are saying because the flow of society is going that way.

I don’t believe we should be doing that. I believe we are members of the Armenian Church because we come from time-tested traditions—sacred traditions that we have raised our families and children on for centuries. Let me give an example of what I mean. People come to church every Sunday. We come for different reasons, but we all come for one main reason. We want to grow closer to God. We want to grow closer to Christ. We want to touch our sacred traditions, but here’s the thing. Some come believing that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Badarak as they should, but will not let Him be truly present in their lives.

When we live in a way that has nothing to do with our following of Christ, when there is no connection between our receiving Holy Communion and what we do with the rest of our week, that is a way of saying that something else is more important. My wants are more important than His. What others think about me is more important to me than what God thinks about me.

This is a big part of a 21st century spiritual crisis. If receiving Holy Communion has no changing effect on our life, it means we are blocking the power of God’s presence with all kinds of stop signs and detour signs and no trespassing signs in certain areas of our life. It shows when what we do here has no impact on how we live, how we vote, how we spend our earnings or how we work. It’s like we make Jesus a prisoner of these four walls. We communion with Him here. We worship Him here.We honor Him here and we leave Him here like a precious jewel in a safe deposit box that never sees the light of day.

So as we leave here today, let us take some time to think about our understanding of who He is in our lives. We might believe the words of Jesus Christ that bread and wine become His body and blood but many of us find it challenging to become like Him as our Church Fathers say to become Christ-like.

Do we trust Him enough to take His truth into the world, into our places of work and into our social or civic lives? Every time we come to Badarak, we are challenged to make a decision. Will we serve the gods of the world around us or the Lord Who created us and rose from the tomb to show us His ultimate love for us.

Something for all of us to think about.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.