Today (4/24/2013), in a gathering called the “Spiritual Day Hike” at St. Margaret’s we listened to a man of Armenian heritage talk about the Armenian Genocide (1915-1918). It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children died in those years because, ‘official’ denials aside, they were Armenian. This man’s mother, father, and uncle were all directly impacted by this event prior to arriving safely in America.
The Episcopal Church has provisionally designated April 24 as a commemoration called Genocide Remembrance. It acknowledges that on April 24, 1915 over 200 Armenian men and boys were arrested and killed by authorities signaling the start of the genocide. Our prayer gives you an idea of why we remember, why we call out to God, and how we hope God will bless us in our day:
Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for the Day (April 24) in Holy Women, Holy Men emphasis added
On a pilgrimage to Armenia in 2001 Pope John Paul II also prayed in remembrance and in hope:
O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us!
Listen, O Lord, to the lament that rises from this place, to the call of the dead from the depths of the Metz Yeghérn, the cry of innocent blood that pleads like the blood of Abel, like Rachel weeping for her children because they are no more. Listen, Lord, to the voice of the Bishop of Rome, echoing the plea of his Predecessor Pope Benedict XV, when in 1915 he raised his voice in defence of “the sorely afflicted Armenian people brought to the brink of annihilation”.
Look upon the people of this land who put their trust in you so long ago, who have passed through the great tribulation and never failed in their faithfulness to you. Wipe away every tear from their eyes and grant that their agony in the twentieth century will yield a harvest of life that endures for ever. We are appalled by the terrible violence done to the Armenian people, and dismayed that the world still knows such inhumanity.
But renewing our hope in your promise, we implore, O Lord, rest for the dead in the peace which knows no end, and the healing of still open wounds through the power of your love. Our soul is longing for you, Lord, more than the watchman for daybreak, as we wait for the fullness of redemption won on the Cross, for the light of Easter which is the dawn of invincible life, for the glory of the new Jerusalem where death shall be no more.
O Judge of the living and the dead, have mercy on us all!
PRAYER OF JOHN PAUL II at the Memorial of Tzitzernagaberd Yerevan
26 September 2001
The conversation around the table (our ‘day hike’ is more of a spiritual wandering than an actual hike) centered upon our responsibilities as followers of Christ to work in the ways we can, according to our abilities and with God’s grace, so that such horrors cease. We have a long way to go, but we have started.
For further information
Armenian Genocide on Wikipedia
Armenian National Institute (ANI) “Dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide”