Primate Hovnan Derderian’s Easter Message

"Christ is Risen from the Dead"
"He is not Here–But is Risen!" (Luke 24:4)

"And you are the Witnesses of these Things" (Luke 24:48)

The good news of the Miraculous Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ once again reaches us all as a beacon of light–as a call to the entire world towards faith and a new spiritual life; "And you are the witnesses of these things." Truly the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ not only reawakens within our spirituality the consciousness to relive the mystery of the Divine Resurrection–but even more so–to become the witnesses of the life of Christ and especially His Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ is the ultimate reality that adorns our human’spirit–because as Paul the Apostle says–"If Christ has not risen–your faith is futile" (I Corinthians 15:15).

"He is not here–but is risen!" (Luke 24:4)

"And you are the witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48).

For the Armenian Christian–the Feast of the Resurrection is the feast of a "greater life." Through our sacred religious rites the fundamental truth that the Resurrection of Christ is the new dawn of our spiritual life is further rooted within us–since "through his Resurrection he transcended sin–and all that having to do with this death." Thus–the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ becomes true on the day–when not only our creed is re-rooted–but above all when we become the witnesses of His Resurrection. This is precisely where emphasis is placed upon the church. The church–as the congregation of the Believers of Christ–as part of its presence and identity–has an obligation to speak of and peach the Resurrection of Christ; to unceasingly deliver the message of Christ’s gospels–and to make certain that the life of the Christian individual and the community is a testimony of the Resurrection of Christ. We will become the witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection only when we partake in his sacrifices. In other words–when we know how to fill our lives with sacrifice–turning our path of life towards Christ.

The miraculous Resurrection of Christ is the feast of the renewed church. The Resurrection of Christ is the dawn of a new life within every Christian. We are the ones who will construct the new church–with our own hands–so that we may give the testimony of Christ’s Resurrection. Our individual life has the thirst for renewal–as is our communal life within the church–our life of service–both national and to the church. But–above all–our lives within the family–to raise our children entrusted to us by God–is nothing but the example of the life of Christ.

The miraculous Resurrection of Christ conveys to all of us the message to transfigure our spiritual lives through the strength of prayer and to embark upon the God-pleasing mission to cultivate our spirit. The God-pleasing mission to cultivate our spirit begins in our individual life followed by a unity of the faithful through love. The more the individual is strengthened in his life by prayer–the more passionately he testifies about the Resurrection of Christ. The more the Christian community loves–the more that community becomes not only a strong testimony of the Resurrection of Christ–but above all a strong presence for all those who have strayed from the path of light and suffer in darkness. Our salvation and strength is in our spiritual life. The church is obliged to constantly renew herself–thus becoming a presence that maintains pace with contemporary times. It is our message that the children of the church remain firm in their Christian faith because our nation has been reborn in that faith by turning Christianity into the splendor of her spirit. For that same faith our nation has accepted the greatest divine gift–the Armenian alphabet–and through it has eternalized the Holy Bible with Armenian words. The children of our church–with this communion–have continued to live their God-given lives.

We have reached the point in history when even greater challenges have risen before us and now we have the obligation to overcome. We will continue to uphold–even at the cost of our lives–the legacy of our forefathers–who have been sanctified through their martyrdom. The legacy of our Christian faith and doctrine–the Motherland and Holy Etchmiadzin–our language–our national heritage–culture–history–and most importantly our right for the recognition of the Genocide. The Armenian Church will be demolished when we are not able to pass these messages on to our youth.

The Christian faith cannot be anchored on the testimony of the Resurrection of Christ if it is not rooted in our Motherland–Holy Etchmiadzin–as well as the sacred Armenian legacies–culture and history. These facets present themselves as a cornerstone of the Christian faith. In other words–they are God-given graces which strengthen our faith. They are graces in the sense of challenges–as to what extent we are able to live our Christian faith through our actions in order that we may become partakers in the crucifixion of Christ and to gain the right to testify about the Resurrection of Christ. The mystery of the Resurrection of Christ truly becomes a testimony when the Resurrection of Christ is expressed through our lives.

Dear faithful–live the Feast of the Resurrection because its mystery is the mystery of the true life. This leads us to live life striving for perfection–as Christ himself says–"Be perfect–as your Heavenly Father is perfect." The Feast of Resurrection is a day of pilgrimage. It is the doorway to eternal life. It is the feast of our renewed life. It is the breath of peace and the spring which plant harmonious brotherhood among nations. It is the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin and–finally–the day of the victory of the Christian faith.

"Christ is risen from the dead."

"He is not here–but is risen!" (Luke 24:4)

"And you are the witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:48)

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian–Primate

Easter 2006

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