Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Sermon Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

A Nation’s legends are not fairytales. The legends are the reflection and the echo of grief, loss, disappointments and dreams of the nation that give birth to them. Some of them are so old that they go back to the very infancy of human civilization. Some are so powerful that they transcend the boundaries and borders of time and space, nationality, religion and culture. The legend of an immortal phoenix is one of the timeless stories that inspired and gave hope to humanity for thousands of years. It is found in every culture and civilization from Ancient Egypt to Greece. It was a source of encouragement for the early Christians and was the symbol and reminder of Christ’s resurrection. Early Christian church fathers such as Clement of Rome, Origen, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Jerome wrote about this mythical wonder creature. Armenian authors from Agathangelos in the fifth century to Hovhaness Tumanyan and Teryan, also drew inspiration and incorporated this legend in their writings.

What is it about the legend of the phoenix that captivated and captured our interest and admiration? It is a story about an extraordinary creature living in the ordinary world. Phoenix would live for a very long time, yet it was not truly immortal. When this wonderful creature would sense that its end is near, it would fly high, reach the sun and dive into the burning ocean sun’s flames. surface. It would crash down to earth, burn until nothing but ashes remained. Yet, when it appeared that there is nothing left but ashes, when it seemed that hope and life were gone, it would rise again, rise anew and stronger. The legend of the phoenix rising from the ashes gave humanity hope that there is a chance of renewal, restoration and rebuilding after loss, defeat, betrayal, disappointment and even death itself.

What we have lived, witnessed and experienced in the last few days was, without doubt, one of the darkest chapters of Armenian history. With Artsakh, we lost a part of our identity. It is a piece of land, x number of regions, cities and villages for the enemy and the world, but to us, it is much, much more. Our nation is more divided than ever in recent history. There is anger and disappointment, heartbreak and grief over the lost lives and heritage. The worst is perhaps the sad realization that history repeated itself yet again. The sacred homeland was conquered and divided despite our best effort, despite our disagreement and cries for justice and help.

The Armenian history and my Christian faith are the refuge of my soul these days. We have fallen and lost before, we have been attacked, lied to, manipulated million times before. Yet, somehow my nation managed to survive, get back on its feet, recover and heal, rebuild and recreate beauty, love, life, and a new Armenia over and over again. I am convinced that this ability and resilience to destruction and death is rooted deep in our Christian faith. After all, we believe in the resurrected Lord, Christ Jesus, Son of God who was betrayed and defeated, humiliated, condemned and convicted, crucified and killed unjustly. Yet, it is out of this darkness and loss that the miracle of resurrection emerges, Christ rises like a phoenix, ushering new life and new hope over which death had no power.

A divine miracle is not merely an external force and process. A miracle does not start with a sudden explosion of heavenly lightning and fire, it does not start with supreme and mighty heavenly hosts rushing down from the heavens to restore justice and truth. Instead, divine miracles often are born in the silence of our hearts. Miracles emerge from the inner peace of souls, from the state of mind that is not overpowered with anger, revenge and hopelessness. Christ is revealed among us only if we are together, united, forgiving, understanding, holding each other up and carrying each other’s griefs and sorrows.

Therefore, it is my prayer, and my only wish to see my nation united and one again. Only then will we as a nation feel and experience the warmth and light of the divine miracle feeling our hearts, healing and resurrecting us again like a phoenix rising from the ashes of hopelessness and defeat.

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