THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE
The festive Christmas season is upon us, a most joyous time which evokes deep in our hearts and souls feelings of love, merriment, harmony, and above all, gratitude for the Birth and Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is truly an extraordinary time of year as we relive the “great and marvelous mystery” of the arrival of the Newborn King, heralded to mankind centuries ago by the heavenly host. On that divine night long ago in the town of Bethlehem, “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given,” (Isaiah 9:6) ushering in the dawn of a new and glorious era.
In the midst of this season of good cheer and merriment, let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas and the true reason for our celebrations, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) As the supreme demonstration of God’s infinite love, Jesus Christ came into this world to be a Light in the darkness, to bear witness to the Truth, to preach the Good News, to seek and save the lost, to bring a new peace like no other, and to grant abundant and eternal life.
Perhaps most remarkable is that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came not on a throne but in a manger, not as a Master but in “the form of a bondservant,” and “in the likeness of men,” (Philippians 2:7) as a good shepherd Who laid down His life for His sheep. Indeed one of the most telling messages of Christmas is that “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus was born to die on the Cross so that we may have the hope of inheriting everlasting life. It is a debt that we cannot repay; but what we can and are called to do as children of God is strive to live like Him and for Him, for “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment of joyful service. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death to fulfill the will of the Father, proclaiming “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) During Christmastime especially, as we exchange gifts to one another, let us be mindful that the greatest gift is to give of ourselves in service to others, in the ideal example of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose earthly life, from the time of His birth to the Crucifixion, was characterized by humility, obedience, and service rooted in love. Thus, motivated by brotherly love, a humble spirit, and a sincere and joyful heart, let us seek to do as He has done for us, with the knowledge and faith that our reward will come from our Lord above.
If we look around us we will see that there is always a need somewhere. Within our own families, in our churches, schools, national organizations, for our brothers and sisters in Armenia, Artsakh, and Syria, there is always an opportunity to serve. Indeed true greatness comes from serving others, for “whoever desires to become great among you, shall be your servant.” (Mark 10:43) As each of us have been graced with unique gifts, it is our duty to be good steward of His graces and utilize them in service for others, and to serve lovingly, willingly, eagerly, and bringing dignity to all that we do. Our Lord came down from heaven and became man so that we would never abide alone. And so, when we take upon our shoulders the heavy responsibility of shepherding or ministering, we need not worry for we have the guiding arm and strength of our Lord upon us.
In the centennial year of the Armenian Genocide, we came together in a tremendous show of unity in service for a common cause. We will no doubt continue in that same spirit beyond the centennial, inspired and driven by the proclamation of 2016 as the “Year of Service” by our beloved Pontiff, His Holiness Aram I. It is our prayer and wish that the Christmas spirit of love and goodwill and the Christmas message of service endure deep in our souls, inspiring us to have a servant’s heart and impelling us to walk in the way of our Lord all the days of the year.
On this most joyous occasion, we give all praise and glory to God for the “indescribable gift” of His only-begotten Son and for the priceless gift of another year. May the year 2016 bring peace, justice, and goodness to the world, to the crisis-laden Middle East especially and for our homelands of Armenia and Artsakh. We convey our best wishes to our clergy, councils, parishes, schools, committees, organizations, and faithful parishioners, for bright days ahead filled with good health and good cheer. May we begin the New Year with renewed faith, renewed spirits, and a renewed sense of commitment to serving selflessly, humbly, and lovingly to bring honor and glory to God and prosperous days for our nation, so that we too may be worthy of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)
May Christ be revealed in you, that Christ may be revealed through you.
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 2016