The Church and its Importance to us
A Church is a place, where people attend to communicate spiritually with God. There, exists an atmosphere that brings people together, frees them from their everyday worries and problems, and encourages then to open their hearts. This is the mission of the church.
Our church or any church is not just a building with pews, chandeliers and an altar filled with ornaments and some are more elaborate than others. It is and has been for centuries a place of worship, a place to congregate, to receive our Lord’s blessings, to pray together, hear our beautiful Divine Liturgy (Badarak), to pray for the souls of our beloved departed, to hear and become aware of our Community life, and of course, be together. “Praying together is staying together.”
Church is our Home
For the Armenians, the church is a place of worship and a national home. As our poet Vahan Tekeyan says “The Church is the home of our people where every Armenian enters as a true landlord and receives from her, love, nourishment and salvation, and will be exempted from winds and storms.
For us Armenians, the church is a second home. Here, we gather to maintain our identity, to get acquainted with our personal life and to share our church’s and nation’s history and culture.
Church has another meaning. It means group of believers, who are gathered there with the same beliefs. When we cast those two meanings together, we have the people and the place, that is the body and the soul. Together they form perfectionism.
Preserving Our Identity
The Armenian story is a story of an unending religious struggle to preserve our identity, our culture and our church. Yes, we have done it at a great cost, and that religious background is very closely interwoven with our high Armenian heritage. Today it worries us to see, a lack of enthusiasm and involvement; an apathy. We often hear “They don’t need me; there are plenty of others who work” or “Let someone else do it.” I am sure you have heard of them. But this is wrong. Of course we need you. We need every one of you. First, we need you to belong to the Church and become a member. What is a member? Being a member is not only one who pays his yearly dues or occasionally attends Church or a special function. Certainly that is not enough. Being a member means getting involved, volunteering your help, and being active. This is your Church. It does not belong to just a few. Let us remember that churches here were found by far-sighted, community not only for its spiritual environment but social as well. It has strengthened the Armenian community evidenced by the great organizations that surround it, enriching our historical, cultural, and of course their heritage. It is the legacy the founders left us. We will continue to carry on but we need more active members to do a good job.
Now that summer has past and vacations are over, let’s turn to the needs of our church. Let us join hands, young and old, male and female. This is your church; it belongs to you and your children who are our future. Ask what can I do? How can I help? Let me do my share; let me pay my dues regularly. Now is the time. Let’s build and not criticize. Instead of cursing darkness, let’s light a candle.
By attending church regularly, you will derive a sense of security. Let’s all work together by bringing fresh thoughts and good ideas.
Rev. Fr. Arsen Kassabian
St. Garabed Church Parish Priest
Las Vegas, Nevada