The 3 Ways to Bethlehem
THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
January 7, 2018
The 3 Ways to Bethlehem
by Mesrop Vartabed Parsamyan
The Bible provides us several different roads to reach Bethlehem.
The first way is described by the evangelists Matthew, by the image of the Magi, who as I stated previously, were called wise men. They were the scientists of their time and were studying the stars and planets as well as predicting the future. Fundamentally, they were considered the intellectually elite of the time. The story of the Magi indicates that some people may reach the Bethlehem manger by way of science, research, and knowledge. Indeed, you have probably heard people express that there exists a gap between religion and science. Some scientists even say that an intelligent man cannot be a man of faith. From experience and history, however, we know that numerous people have found the very way to Bethlehem as a result of science. Yes, one can be a scientist and a believer! Even today, many leading scientists are people of great faith. Those scholars who have eyes to see and follow the light of the Lord do reach Bethlehem, and science is not bothering them, but rather helping. The famous French naturalist, scientist, philosopher and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin arrived at the following conclusion: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
The second way to Bethlehem is reported by Luke the Evangelist. He writes that Joseph and Mary embarked on a journey to Bethlehem to fulfill their civic duty, to pay taxes, and to be registered for a census proclaimed by Caesar Augustus. Indeed, the journey to faith passes also through our daily lives; by our being law-abiding citizens of United States of America, fulfilling our civic duty, taking care as parents of our children, loving and honoring our parents and family in our roles as children, honoring and expressing gratitude to our neighbor, loving each other, and just going outside and greeting people with a warm smile…
In this humble and simple way, God reveals himself to us, works miracles in our lives and leads us to the manger of Bethlehem — to the cradle of our faith. Mary and Joseph didn’t think that seven hundred years ago the prophet Micah prophesied that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. No, it was just their civic duty to go to Bethlehem, and God worked a miracle in that way. He gave a Savior to the world, a bread for eternal life in the city of Bethlehem, which, you may know, means “house of bread.”
There is a yet another way to Bethlehem, the way of the shepherds, who went to Bethlehem receiving direct revelation. They received a vision from God, in which the angels announced the good news: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Such revelations are not frequent happenings. In fact, they are given only to those pure in heart, as it says in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Shepherds came to deep faith through a supernatural, spiritual experience. This, then, is the excellent way to Bethlehem.
Of course, the Magi, the scientist, could cast doubt on the experience of the shepherds, who, in turn, could lessen the intellectual journey of the wise men. Neither the wise men nor the shepherds, however, had any reason to disapprove of the journey of the Holy Family, who were just fulfilling their civic duty: going to be registered and pay their taxes.
In the life of faith, everyone is traveling his way, but what is important is that at the end of the journey all of us find ourselves together in Bethlehem, not at the Dead End of unbelief.
During the season of Advent, we are all invited to travel our personal “road to Bethlehem.” When we arrive at our destination on Christmas Day, we will hopefully be closer to the Lord than when we began the journey.
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Acts 6: 8-8:2 (pages 113-115) New Testament
John 12: 24-26 (page 98) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
“Pray constantly” wrote St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians. Among us, pray for Pearl Jamgochian, Annabelle Alexanian & Albert Santerian. Pray for the families of the more than two dozen who were killed and many others who were injured during the horrific attack in the holiest of places – a house of worship in a small Texas town. May they feel the strong presence of God at their sides. Please continue your prayers for those affected by nature’s great storms as many remain without homes, comfort or well-being. Pray for leaders all over so that peace in our countries will prevail.
Blessing of the Water: Sunday January 7, 2018, the Godfather of Water Blessing this year is going to be Matthew Santerian.
CHOIR PLATE COLLECTION: On this day of Water Blessing, the Choir will have a plate collection.
FELLOWSHIP HOUR: is sponsored today by Michael and Legna Santerian, Merle Santerian and Angel Ebrahime in honor of Matthew Santerian, Godfather of Water Blessing. All are welcome.
With Love, We Remember: Please join us at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, January 14 for A Day of Remembrance. This involves a short candle-lighting service and hokehankisd to honor the memory of those in our community who passed away in 2017 and received the burial rites of our church. Through this ceremony, the entire Holy Trinity parish shares in each family’s loss and remembers all the departed with love, gratitude and consoling prayer.
LAST WEEK TO GIVE: Christmas Gift for Vanadzor: The Ladies of Holy Trinity are collecting money every Sunday until Armenian Christmas to send a financial gift to Vanadzor, the home for senior Armenians outside of Yerevan. The collection container sits on a table in the Narthex. During this holiday season, please remember these elderly Armenians. Thank you.
REMINDER: According to the Diocesan Bylaws, membership dues are to be paid no later than December 31st each year in order to be a member in “good standing” and to be eligible to vote at the annual assembly. Any monies received after that date will be applied to the new year. For any questions regarding your status, please call the church office.
FAR UPDATE: Fund for Armenian Relief just released the first episode of its video series Go FAR, which represents some of FAR’s most important values: heritage and legacy. Go FAR follows Armene, an Armenian-American from Longmont, Colorado, as she experiences Armenian life firsthand. During her travels, Armene visits the Armenian Genocide Memorial, the Gyumri Technology Center, soup kitchens, monasteries and more. Armene also gets to witness the many philanthropic efforts of FAR, while learning more about the adversities of the Armenian people and how FAR is alleviating these hardships. To watch episode, go to http://farusa.org/2017/12/18/go-far-documentary-series/
CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)
Jan 5 Theophany Eve: Divine Liturgy 7:00 pm
Jan 6 Feast of Theophany: Divine Liturgy 10:30 am
Jan 7 Blessing of Water Service
Jan 14 Day of Remembrance
Jan 27-28 ACYOA Lock-In
THE NICENE CREED/ HAVADAMK – This is the Profession of our Faith which is recited every Sunday moments after the Gospel is read from the altar. Sometimes it is sung, but more often it is recited by the Deacons and/or the Choir. We invite you to affirm your own “Profession of Faith” by reciting along with us. God longs for all of us to express our faith and devotion to Him.
THE KISS OF PEACE: After the gifts of the Eucharist are brought to the Altar Table, the deacon proclaims, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” The person giving the greetings says, Kristos ee mech mer Haydnetsav – Christ is revealed amongst us. The recipient would respond, Orhnial eh Haydnootiunun Kristosee – Blessed is the revelation of Christ.
Anyone who wishes to request any Requiem Services MUST inform the office by 1:30pm Wednesday the week before. If you also want to sponsor the Fellowship Hour you MUST call Merle Santerian at 215-947-3777.
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– If the answer to any of these questions is YES, please visit our parish website at www.holytrinity-pa.org
WE ASK THAT EVERYONE KINDLY TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES and all other such electronic devices prior to entering the sanctuary out of respect for the sanctity of our services.