Pastor Harutyun Khachatryan’s Message
The Armenian people were thus forced to take their fate into their hands.Highlights of Armenian Christendom by Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian
These familiar words resonate with Armenians all around the world. Within the extensive pages of our history we find many reminders of our painful losses of land and souls. Yet we should not be quick to turn the page just because we cannot endure the pain of these tragic events. Between the lines, buried in the soil of these adversities you will find the seeds of faith and victory. This is certainly true when we read the story of the Battle of Avarayr. In the broad context of world history, it may be considered a small conflict of swords and human powers which ended in a decisive victory for the oppressive Persian Empire. For the Armenian people however, it was a battle grounded in our Christian faith and a struggle to preserve our identity and honor for the generations to follow.
While it takes courage to face a powerful enemy, it takes faith to lead people into a battle you could not hope to win without aid from the invisible hand of Almighty God. Vartan Mamigonian had that kind of a faith. As he issued a call to his fellow warriors, he inspired them with the following words before marching into battle: If we were able to perform such brave deeds in obedience to a mortal commander, how much more should we be able to do for our immortal King?
The Battle of Avarayr began on May 26, 451 and lasted only one day. Vartan and many of his fellow soldiers were martyred. They did not die, rather they sacrificed their lives in obedience to a calling that would find its rebirth in generations to follow. Vartan Mamigonian fell in battle but his nephew, Vahan Mamigonian, would live and continue this God given mission. In the spring of 484 TheTreaty of Nvarsagwas established between the Armenians and Persians.After 33 years of struggle and conflict, this was a victory for A Christian Armenia, a new freedom birthed from the obedience of a faithful man named Vartan, who did not live to see it.
The word obedience makes me think of a coin that has two sides. One side reads blessing, the other sacrifice. When these two sides are molded together in love, they produce value. If you want and pursue blessings only, your heart with stray away from the path. In the same way, sacrifice alone will cause your heart to grow weary. Don’t look for one or the other but seek obedience in both. Vartan’s obedience, resulted in sacrifice but that was only one side of the coin. The other side was the blessing of a Nation freed from oppression, celebrating their faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The most familiar verse in the bible is John 3:16, but I would like to bring to your attention 1 John 3:16, which reads: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Jesus died for us because He understood that there is blessing in sacrifice. Through His Word, He teaches us to do the same for each other. If we could only see the blessings behind each sacrifice we make for other people, we would witness an explosion of love in our midst. God would be glorified, and lives changed in powerful ways. Vartan gave up his life knowing full well that obedience in love is a two-sided coin that includes both sacrifice and blessings. Today, his legacy has been handed down to us and it is our turn to live in such a way that our love will be demonstrated in sacrifice that results in blessings for us and generations yet to come. This is our heritage as Armenians. This is our mission as Christians. May His will be done.
Pastor Harutyun Khachatryan
Pastor of Christian Education at the United Armenian Congregational Church of Los Angeles, CA
The Battle of Avarayr of 451 A.D. From the 19th Century Broadcast, Lamp Unto My Feet
“Death, when not comprehended is death indeed, but death if comprehended, is immortality.” -Armenian historian Elishe 410-475 A.D.
“No one can move us, neither angels nor men, neither sword nor fire. All our goods and possessions are in your hands. Our bodies are before you. Dispose of them as you will. The sword is yours, the neck, ours. Do not therefore interrogate us further concerning all this because our bound of faith is not with men to be deceived like children, but with God to whom we are indissolubly bound and from who nothing can detach or separate us. Neither now, or later, nor forever, nor forever and ever.” -Vartan Mamigonian responded to the King Yazdegerd II’s imposition of Zoroastrianism on Armenia. Narrated by the Armenian historian Elishe 410-475 A.D.
The AMAA would like to thank Dr. Martha Missirlian, Mrs. Joyce Abdulian and Mr. & Mrs. Joseph & Joyce Stein for sharing this historical video. Lamp Unto My Feet was an American religious program produced by CBS Television and broadcasted on Sunday mornings from 1948-1979. In this episode, the program focuses on the Battle of Avarayr of 451 A.D.