The Star Of Bethlehem Is The Guiding Light Of God
With the commencement of the New Year 2018, a new dawn emerges upon the world and upon the Armenian nation, and we, the descendents and faithful inheritors of the Armenian Church established by the Apostles, with exultation and glee once again embrace the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, “the great and marvelous mystery”, and join our voices with the angels’ melody merrily proclaiming “Christ is Born and Revealed.”
On this glorious and blessed feast, the gaze of our mind’s eye once more turns to the radiant Star of Bethlehem which on that holy night centuries ago illuminated the night sky and heralded the “Light of God” coming into the world, an unfading Light that remains our guide for all of eternity. “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).
Many miracles surrounded the Birth of the baby Jesus. The Star of Bethlehem too is an unexplained celestial phenomenon, which for believers can only be described as the shining glory of God being revealed to mankind. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came as Light for a darkened world, love for a hardened world, hope for a despondent world, strength for a weakened world, wisdom for a strayed world, and salvation for a condemned world. “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). He came as the greatest symbol of humility, obedience, and sacrificial service, to guide us back to the path of righteousness and reconcile us with God the Father as our Good and True Shepherd.
Inspired by the preaching of Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew, the Armenian nation early on embraced the message of the Star of Bethlehem and trusted in the Light of God alone for direction, both in times of peace and in times of peril. The Light of God impelled our nation to rise from ashes many times over, propelled us to cultural and literary renaissance, bolstered us in the Battle of Avarayr, and centuries later, guided the rebirth of our nation following the Armenian Genocide and to the establishment of an independent republic.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Republic of Armenia, one of the most telling testimonies of our faith in modern history. From the Battle of Avarayr to the fight for independence to the Artsakh liberation movement, the common factor among our heroes has been and remains faith, devotion to nation and homeland, the guiding Light of God, and the Christian spirit of self-sacrifice, humility, and harmony. As the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord invites us to a life of love, peace, harmony, and goodwill toward others, the centennial of our First Republic invites us to recommit ourselves to serving for the prosperity of our nation with love, devotion, humility, and unity.
2018 is furthermore a year of jubilee for it marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the North American Prelacy and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of our Western Prelacy. The Holy See of Cilicia, from its inception to the present day, has been the lighthouse from where the Light of God has emanated and illuminated the hearts, minds, and souls of faithful over the centuries. Like the Star of Bethlehem, it has guided us to the joy of Christ and has been a beacon in our darkest hours and in our brightest moments.
The Birth of Christ was the birth of a new age and the dawn of a new light, “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9). It is an inextinguishable, enlightening, and guiding Light, which has burned bright for centuries and brought new and abundant life for all mankind. The New Year is the most fitting opportunity to start anew, in the words of St. Paul, to “put off, concerning your former conduct… be renewed in the spirit of your mind…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. Let us walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). As the wise men turned to the Star of Bethlehem for guidance and direction, let us turn to our Lord and seek Him alone for all of our needs. Let us praise and glorify Him all the days of our lives by walking in His Light and bearing witness of His Light. And in His supreme example, let us fulfill our duties to our church and nation with utmost love, humility, and goodwill.
To the members of our clergy, councils, parishes, educational institutions, and community organizations, I convey my best wishes for a joyful and healthy New Year and a very Merry Christmas. May the miracle and wonder of the Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your hearts with exceeding love, peace, and merriment, and may His radiant Light warm your hearts and homes and brighten your days during this blessed season and throughout the year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
CHRIST IS BORN AND REVEALED
BLESSED IS THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States
New Year and Christmas 2018