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Der Samuels Sermon May 21st, 2023

On the seventh Sunday of the feast of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord and the Sunday following the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ Armenian Church celebrates Second Palm Sunday. This name is taken from the first Palm Sunday celebrated one week before the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, symbolizing the triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. The first Palm Sunday symbolized the entrance of our lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem on earth, where he was praised as a man: but this second Palm Sunday symbolizes the entry of Jesus Christ into the heavenly Jerusalem, where this time he was praised as God. The first Palm Sunday, which occurs after the end of the Lenten season, when we gave our sins to God, preparing us for the miraculous resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the liturgy of the second Palm Sunday, when, as a result of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the renewal of our souls, the time has come for us to live the instructions we have received in our minds, and trust that he will prepare and carry us to the Pentecost.

As I mentioned, last Thursday was the feast of Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to tell you a story about Ascension. According to tradition, when he was sentenced to death in the pit for high treason by the Armenian king Dertad (Տրդատ), the Heavenly King rewarded him by providing an angel to visit him every day to comfort and strengthen him to fulfill his mission. On the fourth day following the celebration of the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, St. Gregory missed the visitation of the Good Angel. The next day when the angel returned to him, the angel told the saint that Jesus following His Ascension was welcomed by the Heavenly Hosts. The fourth day was reserved for the same rank to which the angel belonged, and therefore he was expected to be in heaven on that day.

I want to continue my sermon about ascension, and I will read the gospel reading for Matthew just to make you remind the story “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In general, separation is always sad for all of us, especially when we are separated from a very beloved person. At that time, the apostles were deeply saddened because they did not know the full plan of God. Therefore, I want to highlight three points that will make us understand the mystery of his ascension. 1. Jesus' Promise and Commission Before ascending to heaven, Jesus made a promise to His disciples: to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who would empower and guide them in their mission to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus entrusted them with a great commission to be witnesses of His love, mercy, and salvation to all nations. As followers of Christ, we are also called to fulfill this commission, bearing witness to His truth and grace in our daily lives.

2. Our Hope in the Ascension The Ascension of Jesus is not a cause for despair, but rather a source of hope and assurance. It reminds us that Jesus is not confined to a specific time or place but is present with us always. His departure led to the coming of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within every believer, empowering us to continue the work Jesus began on earth. In His Ascension, Jesus took his rightful place at the right hand of the Father, ruling over all creation. This assures us that our ultimate destiny is to be with him in glory, united in eternal communion. 3. Embracing our Role As followers of Christ, we are called to embrace our role in God’s redemptive plan. The Ascension serves as a reminder that we are not alone in this mission. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him to heaven resides within us. We are called to proclaim the Good News and to be agents of love, justice, and reconciliation in a broken world. Let us be encouraged to step out in faith, knowing that Christ’s authority and power are at work in and through us.

Therefore, let’s continue our life by proclaiming the Good News by spreading love, and kindness with a pure heart and mind. So that the Holy Spirit continues to work through us forever and ever, Amen.

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