Forgive and Forget, Kiss and Make Up


During my recent church attendance, I found the Der Hayr’s sermon very interesting, since it expanded on a topic I had written a column about several years ago: broken alliances between relatives and friends.

‘If any one group of people could use a lesson on humility, brotherly love, and an adjustment of Christian attitude, it could be right there in that particular church.’ (Photo: Stefan Kunze)

Hard feelings between people seems to be an impossibility to overcome, but the leader of the flock this Lenten Sunday was emphatic in his instruction to the faithful that bygones should be forgiven and Christian brotherhood was the biblical order of the day. I wonder how many took heed and actually complied or they simply thought it applies to others, thinking smugly: “It applies to others. I’m in church almost every Sunday.” Some of the most guilty are.

If any one group of people could use a lesson on humility, brotherly love, and an adjustment of Christian attitude, it could be right there in that particular church. I’ve been reassured by others the problem exists in other ethnic groups as well, leaving me to wonder in the case of the Armenians could it be a result of being subjected to being treated like second class citizens and worse for hundreds of years under successive Seljuk, Ottoman, and Turkish rule.

Those 1,500,000 Armenians who were raped, sliced open, hacked to death, looted, beaten, tortured, and completely demoralized, were part of all of us without inception. That genocide of 1915 and the subjugation in previous decades should have driven the victim Armenians closer. The suffering Armenians were described as a close knit clan of people representing one big family and above all the church was supposed to be a family refuge a place where everyone clung together, as place to turn to in time of need and desperation.

Some of the biggest offenders, gossipers are in church every Sunday. What better place to catch up on the mishappenings of the week? I looked around to see if any ears were burning, or if eyes were watering but no—the priest’s words were for others. Frequent church attendance couldn’t possibly apply to them. Why do they even take Holy Communion without impunity? But God is watching us all.

To his credit, the priest is apparently aware that many animosities exist among his flock. His message of good will was clear that as of “right now” make an attempt to clear the bad air be it with brother, sister, parents, or in personal friendships and with anyone you are on the outs. There was no chaotic rush in the sanctuary to do so. Maybe at the time it was food for thought.

If the broken friendship is the result of money being the culprit, it pretty much is a hopeless case. Selective memory comes into play and “I don’t remember that” is an easy out.

I talk to enough people to unequivocally say each and every person is on the outs with someone. So Der Hayrs, good luck with that sermon to forgive. Your intention is admirable.

The Kiss of Peace portion of the Badarak should be taken seriously, it is not to be a mockery. The matter of jealousy, competition, and anger is an unflattering reality of the clan.

For some church attendance is as rare as a Canadian who doesn’t know what a hockey puck is.

Some of the nicest, kindest, people possess clean hearts, a rare breed who seldom if ever attend a church, who do not gossip or denigrate their fellow humans. They are there for those in need, and truly would give you the shirt off their back.

I recall a former area priest, Rev. Fr. Daron Stepanian usually stating at a community event (as a matter of fact it was a Lenten luncheon) how unimportant it was for neighbors to be on good terms with each other. His words were wise and logical.

Hopefully Der Hayr’s fervent pleads for rendering ailing friendships will be heeded and starting with the post Badarak coffee hour that should not be an appointment to pass juicy gossip tidbits about heresy over a coffee and doughnut about a community member. We are all guilty but as they say, “If the shoe fits…”

A sweet tongue will get a snake out of its hiding place is well and good, but who wants to deal with a snake? In Armenian it is translated like this: “Anoush lezoun otzuh pouynen guh haneh.”

Kill them with buttery pilaf and kindness one person said; “silence is golden” rings true. “Think twice before you speak”—it does pay to take the high road before resorting to a rude or nosey person.

Sometimes you just have to give it right back.


Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”


  1. It is impossible, is it not, that if your flesh and blood has been killed you feel empty, and you feel part of you is missing.
    I will never be able to fill the void by forgiving and forgetting, and as it comes to kissing a Turk and making up, I rather kiss a skunk’s behind instead.

  2. Dear Betty . People are sick and tired getting flack from the Der Hayrs about about their sins, and now they have to behave as saints during coffee in the hall afterwards. If they become saints there will be no need to attend church Betty. The biggest offenders and gossipers are in church you say, Jealoucy, competition and anger. Where do you feel these Betty and your familiarity with such negativity, sounds like these feelings within are bothersome . Armenians are not the only people who harbour these , it is a universal phenomenon .
    Give us solutions Sister ,
    not diagnostics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.