“Come Back to Me”: These words of Jesus sum up the meaning of Great Lent,” says Bishop Daniel in a video message to the faithful.
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My Dear People:
“Come Back to Me.”
For me, these words of Jesus are addressed to each one of us, and they sum up the meaning of the season of Great Lent. Those few words encapsulate the entire Bible. They are a synopsis of every word and symbol of the Badarak. And they express everything that God wishes for the people he created.
“Come Back to Me.”
Great Lent is that season of the year when the Armenian Church and all of the ancient churches transmit this call of Jesus with particular intensity and zeal. All of the Armenian Church’s Lenten traditions and customs—fasting, the closed altar curtain, special hymns, and services, and devotional programs specific to the holy forty days—their single purpose is to capture our attention; to pull us out of our manic busy-ness, and to refocus us on the only true source of peace, life, and hope: the loving, embrace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Come Back to Me,” the Lord calls out. “I want to find you, because you’re lost. I want to relieve your pain, because you’re hurt. I want to heal you, because you’ve been beaten up. I want to rescue you, because you’re drowning. I want to hold you close, because you’ve been battered by the wind. I want to lead you to the harbor, because you’ve been pounded by turbulent waves.”
The tragic myth of this life is that we can find health, joy, and fulfillment by our own means and on our own terms if we just have enough money, eat the right food, wear the right clothes, and know the right people. And yet how many affluent, well-connected people are stumbling aimlessly from day to day in virtual inner darkness, blind to the mysterious thrill that comes from knowing the Creator of the universe personally? The joy of hearing the Lord’s call and turning our attention and devotion to him—in the church and in our daily lives?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus pleads.
To “come back” to Christian faith and life—to “repent,” as the Bible refers to it—always involves re-examining our priorities, changing our behavior, and looking honestly into the inner darkness that each one of us conceals.
But the powerful hand of God himself is stretched out to help us. And if we dare to engage it, the Christian witness and life of our Armenian Church stands ever ready to support us in love and holiness.
May this season of Great Lent be a time of holiness; of reawakening and recommitment for you, your family and loved ones. A time to turn back to Jesus, to surrender to the loving embrace of the only Source of true Life, just as generations of Christian Armenians have done for millennia.
God bless you.