THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
May 31, 2020
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
The story of Pentecost is familiar: Christ had instructed his disciples just before his Ascension:
[Do] not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
On the Feast of Pentecost, as the disciples gathered in the Upper Room where they shared their last meal with Jesus, without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, a gale force. The same Spirit who moved over the waters at the beginning of creation now filled the whole room where they were sitting. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and the Disciples started speaking in a number of different languages!
People from all over the world in Jerusalem witnessed the event. Some mocked, accusing them of being drunk. Others were deeply moved by its profound and miraculous meaning. All of them mesmerized as they heard the wonderful works of God being spoken in their native tongue (Interestingly, both Tertullian and Augustine have interpreted “Judea” in Acts 2:9 as Armenia). The Disciples remembered the promise Jesus made to them, that the Father would send a “Comforter” to guide them into all truth (John 14:26). Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his Church, and the promise was fulfilled that day. This is why the Armenian Church refers to the Feast of Pentecost as Hokekaloosd meaning “Coming of the Spirit.”
The Apostles suddenly found themselves with the power and opportunity to communicate with people all around the world. And with that power, guided by the Holy Spirit, they would begin their separate missions throughout the world to heal, preach, and spread the news that Christ was raised from the dead, illuminating people with Baptism.
Fountain of life, distributor of grace, O Spirit who descended from above, You distributed your imperishable gifts to the apostles. Hovering over the waters, you made creation. Descending upon the waters of the Font, You gave birth to Sons of God.You always adorn and renew your church.
These are words from the hymn Աղբիւր Կենաց sung on the Feast of Pentecost, exquisite words which articulate the role of the Holy Spirit as the fire who illumines us at Baptism. Indeed, the mystery of Baptism centers on “turning to the Light of the knowledge of God” (դառնամք ի լոյս աստուածգիտութեան), the words which follow the renunciation portion of a baptism. This is why Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew are referred to as the “First Illuminators” and why St. Gregory the Enlightener is named as such.
Pentecost was a restoration of the Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11:1-9), a story that begins with a world with one people with one language and ends with a confusion of languages resulting in people being divided and scattered across the earth. At Pentecost, God calls a scattered Israel to be united in him and languages are once again for the purpose of praising God, praising him for coming to us. Rather than humanity striving to reach God by way of our own achievements and accomplishments resulting in confusion and division, on the Day of Pentecost, God has come to us, uniting his people and gathering them to himself and in himself. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: “Perfect peace is brought by Christ, who reconciles humanity to God.”
In the Garden of Eden, the communion for which we were created to enjoy was ruptured. Pentecost is a restoration of that lost communion, the Church being the conduit for renewed communion with God. The gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, bestowed at Baptism, mystically raises us from the corruption of sin and unites us together into God’s family, the Church. Are we living as though we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit? Do we believe it? The divine, healing life of God, his peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) dwells within each baptized person. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:11),
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.
And so the Church is called to task. Led by the Holy Spirit, each one of our parish communities, our Diocese, the global Armenian Church is to share the same uniting peace of Christ with the world, to invite others to gather as one Body of Christ, to share the Kiss of Peace, to be in (comm)union with God, to share and be blessed by his love, forgiveness, and healing, to share the good news of Pentecost! One of the many things we can learn from Pentecost is that our faith and the expression of it is neither meant to be personal nor private. Yes, each of us must individually and uniquely experience God, but never in isolation, and even if in physical isolation, we are still connected to the greater whole, the Church, we still always pray, “Our Father…” Rather our faith, the Gospel, is meant to be lived, shared, spoken, and demonstrated in community, in the context of the living and breathing Body of Christ. And so the Holy Spirit enables us to cultivate a “language” of faith, to speak boldly to the world. There is no time to waste and our world is becoming more and more confused and “scattered.” Beginning with ourselves, how will we start sharing that good news today?
By Dn. Eric Vozzy
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Acts 2: 1-21 (pages 108 -109) New Testament
John 14: 25-31 (page 100) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
REQUIEM SERVICES: Hokehankist today will be for:
– Deacon Krikor and Margaret Ohanian
-Kahana Mgurditch and Yeretzkin Ovsanna Minassian
-Hrant and Nuvart Antaramian
-Armenag and Marta Mirakian
-Charles and Naomi Antaramian
-John and Mary Mirakian
-Charles and Leona Garabedian
-George, Margaret, John and Ara Tatoian
-Tom and Elizabeth Ayvazian
-Irv and Tina Kantner
-Martin and Lucy Garabedian
-John and Marge Leck
requested by Rose, Melanie & Andrea Minassian, Jon & Charlene Simonian & Family (NY), Grant & Kathryn Antaramian & Family (VA), David & Marta Brann, and Armen & Theodora Mirakian (NY) for the souls of their loved ones.
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6).
Prayers are requested for Edward Tatoian, Rose Minassian, Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles and Armen & Theodora Mirakian.
FAR UPDATE: After Three Months of Confinement, FAR Children’s Center Kids Take Trip to Garni Gorge
For three months, the 28 kids currently residing at the FAR Children’s Center in Yerevan have been confined to the Center’s campus where they have filled their days with home school, support and discussion sessions, cooking, gardening and other activities. But last week they were finally able to get out to see a bit more of their world when they spent a day exploring Garni Gorge. The kids, each of whom come from tough backgrounds of abuse, abandonment and neglect, have had more and more difficulty staying positive and productive during lockdown. They needed a boost and hiking was the chosen remedy. At the gorge they walked for about four hours, played outdoors, went to the river, skipped stones and then picnicked for dinner, before returning to the Center in the evening. “They were so happy and relaxed that we think we will try to do such trips more often as the lockdown continues,” said Center social worker Tatev Ghazaryan, who accompanied the kids, and also noted that there was no one else at the gorge, and that staff and children still took all precautionary measures. To read more, go to: https://www.farusa.org/post/after-three-months-of-confinement-children-s-center-kids-take-day-trip-to-garni-gorge To support FAR’s Child Protection Program, go to: https://www.farusa.org/donate