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Der Samuel's Sermon from September 17, 2023

Today, in our church is a feast day. It’s the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Armenian KHACHVERATS, which is the last of five major feasts in our liturgical calendar. As we know, during Jesus Christ’s time and before that, they used to punish criminals by crucifying them on the cross, and as we know they crucified our Lord on the cross too. But God showed to the world that with the instrument of suffering and death for criminals, He transformed into a symbol of hope, salvation, and exaltation. There is no doubt, that the cross is a universal symbol of Christianity, and carries a unique significance. But we must know that we don’t worship the cross, we worship the crucified Christ. I don’t if you noticed before, but making the sign of the cross has a huge impact on our lives. When we enter the church, we make the sign of the cross on our faces, when we start a church service or Badarak, or breakfast, lunch, or dinner we make the sign of the cross. In other words, the sign of the Cross is very important in our lives.

As we celebrate the feast, I want to talk about topics related to the Holy Cross. Living a selfless life and living with Love.

In today’s gospel reading, which was taken from the gospel of John, we see that love, by giving examples from the Old Testament and from the New Testament which was going to happen in the life of Jesus Christ on the Cross. I will read the first paragraph of today’s reading. – “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3.13-17). The first example which was taken from the Old Testament symbolizes Jesus’s crucifixion. In that time when the people of Israel were in the desert, because of their behavior God sent them snakes, but when people started to realize their mistake, they asked Moses to ask God for forgiveness, and God commanded Moses to make the serpent that whoever looks to that serpent will be healed. The same way God sent his only Begotten Son for us, that whenever we sin, by going to Jesus and asking his forgiveness we will be forgiven and free from sin.

But here we see God’s love towards us that first through his Love He sent his Only Begotten Son and chose the selfless life. This means, He left everything for us, and came to the earth, lived like a normal human. Being Christian doesn’t mean that we have to live a selfish life. That doesn’t mean that we should think that I have everything, and I don’t care for others. No, that’s not what our Lord taught us. He gave the example by living them first. Today, we have everything, yet there is no love in our hearts. Today we are living a selfish life. God is giving our needs at the right time, yet we are forgetting about Him. Paul the apostle in his first letter to the Corinthians describes love as the following, I will read just one example. “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13.2) and conclude by saying. – “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13.4-7).

My suggestion to you is the following, love everyone without conditions as God loves us. Don’t say don’t deserve our love. Believe me, even if no one loved you, God will always love You. And live a life by helping those who need our help. And you will receive help in the time when you need help, God will help you, and he will send you someone to help you. In this way, you will express your thankfulness to God.

In conclusion, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it’s a reminder of our Christian identity. It’s a reminder of Who We are and What We are For.

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