Thansgiving • Giving • Forgiving

By Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Հաշուեյարդար. Ի՞նչ մնաց, կեանքէն ինծի ի՞նչ մնաց.
Ինչ որ տուի ուրիշին, տարօրինա՜կ, այն միայն:

Վահան Թէքէեան

To sum it up, what remains? From a life lived what remains?
What I’ve given to others, strange enough, only that.

Vahan Tekeyan

Giving is a difficult thing.

It is an exercise in which you give away something that is your own. You deprive yourself from ownership of what is being given away. Kiss it goodbye! You separate yourself from something which has been yours for a short or long period of time. People sometimes have difficulty doing that as people like to hold on to things. People are possessive.

But you realize that giving is not a one sided exercise. In the act of “giving,” there is always another side which is the “taker.” One gives and one or more receive. Trade is the business term where parties involved give and take.

The Armenian language is a very flexible language. It holds a simple but beautiful word for “trade.” That word is “AR-(Y)EV-DUR” which literally means “Take and Give.” Every time the word is used it reminds us that giving is a two party transaction, a two way street.

In highlighting the two parties involved, I like to stress the point that giving is not an isolated act. It affects others. It has an extended impact beyond one’s self which gives the act of giving a fundamental meaning, justification, satisfaction and a good feeling. So good a feeling that the poet Tekeyan summarizes the quotient of a life lived in the joy of the sum of what was given to others.

In any society, giving and taking should be (and is) a natural cycle of life. All those who take should be developed into givers. Most of those who give have sometime in their past life experienced the gift of taking.

As mankind’s cycle of giving is limited, sometimes difficult, often conditional and mostly exhausted in time, we are blessed with a Creator whose giving is indefatigable, expansive and infinite. Christmas is a time to remind us of how that infinite giving of love to mankind is demonstrated in the birth of God’s only begotten son, whose delivery to mankind was not only limited to a “giving” of love but was followed by “forgiving” through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

Now, I am not a linguist, but despite the superficial distance between the two words, I have always suspected that there is a direct connotation between “giving” and “forgiving.” A surf of the internet brought my suspicion to light linking the two words in Old English by defining forgiveness as the act of giving completely and without reservation.

Confronted with God’s infinite, complete, unreserved, sacrificial and unconditional “giving,” there remains one way for us to reciprocate. It is “Thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving is a no sweat, easy and self-imposed sentiment. And while God’s “giving” and “forgiving” is free through His grace, go ahead, put some teeth in your “Thanksgiving” this Christmas and enjoy giving. For when you come to sum up the life you lived, happily surprise God with the quotient of what you have given from the miracle of life He generously blessed you with.

He has Given and Forgiven!
Give back in Thanksgiving!
Քրիստոս Ծնաւ Եւ Յայտնեցաւ,
Ձեզի Մեզի Մեծ Աւետիս

December 2015