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The fourth in a series of Easter Week reflections from a Middle Eastern perspective by regular Ekklesia contributor Dr Harry Hagopian. These talks (see MP3 below) are being broadcast by Premier Christian Radio, and are reproduced with their cooperation.
As an Armenian living in London, I often worship in different churches. You might find me in a Greek or Coptic Orthodox Church, just as you might find me in a Catholic or Anglican one. But my own Armenian Church is St Sarkis in the Kensington neighbourhood of West London.
Who is St Sarkis, you may ask? He is a 4th century saint of the Armenian Church who was born in Caesarea. As a Christian general in a pagan army, he spread the teachings of Christ and witnessed to his faith everywhere.
At one stage in his life, Sarkis travelled with his son Mardiros to Persia and served in the army of King Shapur. The Persian king, impressed by St Sarkis’ courage but displeased with his Christian faith, invited him to forsake God and to worship the pagan idols. St Sarkis refused and ended up being beheaded by the King.
Following his martyrdom, St Sarkis became not only a popular saint amongst Christians but also a symbol of courage and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ - even when such commitment comes at the expense of one’s social, political and economic status. In a world where rampant consumerism, individualism and special interests often gnaw at our faith, is St Sarkis’ life not a fitting lesson for us today?
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris, and he is a regular Ekklesia contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly, he was Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net