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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Jan 28, 2004
Armenian Cathedral of St. James

First Reading (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
[32] not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.
[33] But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
[34] And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Sermon by Very Rev. Fr. Samuel Aghoyan

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:22)

The Armenian Patriarchate and the brotherhood of St. James once again are honoured to have you, the representatives of different religious faiths under the dome of this sacred place, the St. James Armenian Cathedral. Welcome!
Indeed, it is heartwarming to see us embrace each other in the name of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Peace and Love.
With its last celebration in this Cathedral and in the Holy Sepulchre on January 26, the Armenian Church closed the Christmas season.
If we look back from December 25 to January 26, we realize that the Holy Land, Jerusalem and Bethlehem and surroundings, experienced the Christmas spirit for one month. During this period, year after year, the churches herald the same Christmas message of Love and Peace to all mankind. For us to have a normal and meaningful life, it is imperative to have love and peace without which we are lost and empty.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”.
According to this message, peace is at hand; but due to the complex life built around us, we cannot reach it. This message of peace was uttered in Jerusalem many years ago to those who were seeking peace. Since then, people have not ceased to look for peace.
We have to make it clear that what is outside is not inside. This means that the peace of the outer world cannot replace the peace that people can have inside. However, world peace cannot be established without having peace inside us. With this in mind , we can say that that outside and inside, peace go hand-in-hand.
Jerusalem is the metropolitan city of love and peace, for Christ promoted them in His life. The compassion God Christ showed to mankind was real; the peace that He talked about was essential to manage a Christian life. Unless we stretch our hand, like He did, to people who need us for help and for comfort, we cannot be compassionate people. If my neighbour or a friend does not allow me to live my life with peace, he cannot be a promoter of peace.
I believe that we have to come out of metaphoric generalisations and somehow find ways and means to collectively reach the love and peace that our Saviour Jesus Christ practiced. We are not gods, but we walk in His path without missing the target of the mission of the church.
Although we do the preaching of love and peace, it is not enough. We have to do more to help materialize what we preach. Clergy and people together must feel fulfilled love and peace in life. If Christ did not give part of His blessings, love, and inner peace, we wouldn’t be His disciples and ministers; so we have to share them with others and with all by imitating Christ.
Therefore, we, as churches, must organize ourselves - First, to establish an honest and sincere understanding among ourselves to work together for the betterment of our environment, so that we can work hand-in-hand successfully for the Christian mission. Second, we must make known our collective existence to all governmental agencies, without seeking authority for ourselves, but to assist them o bring the desired peace. We need to do this together. For example, a family with five members, planning and working together, accomplishes more than a family with only three members. To unite ourselves, we need to develop the love of Christ to work within ourselves. A person filled with love will spread love and teach others to love as well. Thus, peace can be obtained easier.
However, it is inevitable that we will face problems or difficulties, but with patience and hope, I believe that God’s will, will be done. God has always worked mysteriously through the centuries with love and patience. We all have received the good news of salvation, love and peace. It is up to us what we learned and what we preach.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we know that we cannot succeed or do anything on our own unless God is with us and unless God is on our side. With the same conviction, the disciples worked for the mission of the church. Today, we are not alone; God is with us. He has sent His Holy Spirit to remind us, to teach us, and to inspire us about what to do. We are given the assurance that Jesus Christ will be with us whenever we congregate in His name for His glory. At this moment that we are together in prayer, we must cleanse our hearts and ask forgiveness for all our mistakes, for they are the obstacles to our success.
When we are united with Christ, we are also united with each other.
My prayer is that God may grant us His blessings and give us the ability to live our lives as good Christians, acceptable to Him.
May Jesus Christ guide our steps to unite us together in His love, for his love will soften and humble our hearts to welcome each other o work together in the mission of the church.
May the Holy Spirit console us in all our endeavours, thoughts, and conversations. We ask the Lord to pour upon us His divine wisdom, so we will know and desire the good for ourselves and for all people.
May the peace of God be with us at all times, so that we can develop a peaceful atmosphere for ourselves and for all who are around us.
May we pray that the evil and temptations be far away from us and from our churches, so that God’s peace, love, and truth stay with us always.
As we set on our journey in the future, we all need to look forward with optimism.
Christ’s birth and resurrection are the summation of all aspects of peace, love, and truth, which He left behind for us. And they are the ingredients of optimism that we need.
Glory and Honor to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and always, forever and ever. Amen.
On behalf of St. James’ Brotherhood, I express my heartfelt thanks to you for coming and praying together. God bless you.

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity








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