March 23, 2006

Gregory the Illuminator

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is March 23rd, 2006: the feast of Blessed Gregory the Illuminator.

Do you remember that passage in Acts where Paul speaks to the Athenians in the Areopagus? (Acts 17:22-31) He wanted to tell them about Jesus, but rather than begin by telling them all how wrong they were to worship idols, do you remember what he did? He began by praising their obvious desire to seek and worship God. Maybe you remember the beginning, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’” He then goes on to say that the god the Athenians know must exist, but who they haven’t yet learned to worship by name is the One God of Jesus Christ.

This passage must have reminded the lectionary compilers of Gregory the Illuminator. He lived in the late 3rd and early 4th century, and was very important in the conversion of Armenia to Christianity. Armenia is a country that has had some very tough times throughout history, even though they have a great religious tradition. Even back in Gregory’s time, it was on the border between Rome and Persia, and the two empires would often take Armenia as a prize in their constant warring. No wonder the other passage appointed for today tells us “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-16)

Gregory converted the King of Armenia in the 280s. Since that time, the Christian Church has been very strong in that place. I doubt that Gregory thought that we’d be talking about his achievement nearly 1700 years later. But it’s important to remember that we can never know what use God will make of our lives. Ask yourself, if people 1700 years from now were to recount the events of your life, would you be proud? Would God be happy with what you accomplished?

Let us pray: Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generations may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us on March 25th at for the feast of The Annunciation of Our Lord. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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