Malankara World Journal Issue 42 (Dec 8, 11) is online
- The Malankara World Journal Issue 42 (December 8, 2011) is now available online at:
1. Editor's Note
During this advent season, we need to contemplate on the incarnation of God as human being. During the previous weeks, we have heard beautiful poetry from Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth on the arrival of Messiah on inspiration by Holy Spirit.
The question that came to my mind several times in the past was why God has to be born as a fully human being to redeem the world. Can He do that from heaven without having to pay the big price he did with the death and resurrection of Jesus, the only begotten son of God?
Then one priest explained to me that with an illustration. Suppose you want to do something to a flock of wayward ants. You cannot do that while you are a man. The ants cannot grasp what you are trying to tell them. To change ants, you have to be an ant. Beautiful, isn't it? I came across the following illustration by Vince Gerhardy from 'God Has a Word for You' that is even better to explain the importance of the incarnation:
The President as a Mouse
This may sound ridiculous but it gives us an idea of what it means when we say God became human and made his dwelling among us. Imagine the most powerful and prestigious person in the world, let's say the president of the United States, of his own free-will becomes a mouse small, furry, insignificant, and extremely helpless and vulnerable. He chooses to become a mouse because he wants to live among all other mice. He leaves the White House, and the prestige and honor that go with his office. He becomes a mouse in order to help all other mice.
You see, there are mousetraps in kitchens all around the world. The people who own these kitchens are determined to kill every last mouse. And one after another the mice are killed. The President shouts at the mice until he is hoarse to warn them of the danger and shoos them away but the smelly cheese on the deadly mousetraps is just too inviting. And so the most powerful man in the world happily becomes a mouse because he loves all mice and wants to do something to save them.
In a similar way and in a more radical way the all-powerful and eternal God has chosen to plunge himself into the arena of human life as you and I live it, and take on the flesh and bones of our humanity.
2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (Dec 11)
Revelation to St. Joseph
St. John 6:30-46
St. John 6:30-46
Before Holy Qurbana
Isaiah1: 2 - 9
I Peter 2: 11 -17
St. Matthew 1: 18-25
Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church
3. Sermons for This Sunday (Dec 11)
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the Sunday of the Revelation to Joseph
4. The Harvest of Love
by Helen Keller
"Christmas is the harvest time of love. Souls are drawn to other souls. All that we have read and thought and hoped comes to fruition at this happy time. Our spirits are astir. We feel within us a strong desire to serve. A strange, subtle force, a new kindness animates man and child. A new spirit is growing in us. No longer are we content to relieve pain, to sweeten sorrow, to give the crust of charity. We dare to give friendship, service, the equal loaf of bread and love."
Peace, power and purpose. "The light shines in the darkness "
In these very busy days of preparation, may His peace, His power and His purpose dwell in our hearts.
5. Advent: Time to Listen
Barbara Brown Taylor tells about the day W. H. Auden read some of his poetry at Princeton . The hall was packed with hundreds of students and faculty. They had come to hear "the great one." But when Auden (then an old man) began to read, his voice was so soft that even the microphone couldn't pick him up. So people began whispering to their neighbor: "What did he say?" And those who thought they had heard a part of what he'd said, whispered back the part they'd heard - or what they remembered from a prior reading of Auden, triggered (in that moment) by what they thought they'd heard. While others, not quite hearing - and not quite knowing - guessed at what he was saying. And pretty soon, the whispers drowned out the poet.
Which, if you ask me, is what sometimes happens in our churches, else why would there be so much interest in the word of God, yet so little clarity about the word of God? Unless, of course, we all whisper better than we listen.
Sometimes I wish God would scream. Or shout. At least raise his voice. Getting in my face, as it were. As to why God doesn't, I have no answer. I wish I did.
What I do know is what I just read. That God came to the world (with the barest hint of a whisper) in the form of a child. A speechless child.
Source: William A. Ritter, Collected Sermons
6. Featured This Week: Christmas - When Ordinary People Have Extraordinary Encounters With God
by Rev. Jeffrey T. Howard
Scripture: St. Matthew 1: 18-25
Christmas is a wonderful time, unless, of course, you really need a messiah. I know many of you are facing difficulties in your lives. You have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Your mortgage payment is due and you have no money in the bank. You are facing the loss of your independence. At times like these, celebrations seem inappropriate. You need a messiah to save you. Others of you are dealing with the effects of sin. The abuse of drugs and alcohol has taken its toll. Words you wish you had never said destroyed a relationship. You are ashamed of your behavior. You need a messiah to forgive you. And some of you are experiencing grief this time of year because a loved one is not here to share the holiday with you. You need a messiah to comfort you during this time of grief and loss.
There was a man named Joseph who really needed a messiah. Joseph was a good man. He listened to the rabbi carefully when scripture was taught. He kept the Sabbath. He went to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. He always tried to do the right thing. But one day his life came crashing down around him when he found out that his finance was pregnant with someone else's baby. We can only imagine the emotional trauma he experienced and the intensity of his feeling of anger and grief. He was afraid of the great shame that would cover himself and his family. When he was finally reconciled to the fact that the relationship was over, exhausted, he finally went to sleep.
Matthew tells us that while Joseph was sleeping he dreamed about a messenger from God. This angel reminded Joseph that he was a descendant of David. But he should not fear to take Mary as his wife because the child she was carrying was not from another man but from God, the Holy Spirit. The child Mary was carrying was the messiah. But this messiah was not the child of Joseph, the descendant of David. Our expectation was that the messiah would be descended from David. Now when the messiah is born he is not from David's line at all. Later, Saint Luke will show that Mary too was a descendant of David, but this is beside the point here. In Matthew, Joseph is the son of David, but he is not the Christ, and the Christ is not the son of Joseph, son of David.
The prophets of the Old Testament were all very clear on this. As Samuel had said many years before Israel did not need a king because God was their king. Isaiah made this very clear when he called the coming messiah Wonder Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We have been expecting a messiah from the Davidic dynasty. But the real messiah was God himself, born as a small baby.
No earthly messiah could come to heal us when we are sick, repair our broken relationships, find us when we are lost, save us when we are in trouble, bind up our wounds, battle the giants facing us, forgive our sins, and comfort us as we grieve. No child of David could bring about a kingdom of justice and righteousness so that the world could live a peace. Only God can do these things. And the good news of Christmas is that God has come.
When the angel spoke to Joseph he announced that the child to be born on Christmas was not the son of Joseph, the son of David, but this child would be the son of God. So what we celebrate on Christmas is not the coming of a messiah, a king, but the coming of God into the world. We are celebrating the birth of Immanuel, God with us. This is really good news because it means that God is neither distant nor uncaring. Rather God loves us so much that God wanted to be with us and to experience what we experience, to feel what we feel. God wanted to die for us so that our sins would be forgiven. Yahweh, the LORD God of Israel saves us from our sins. Yahweh saves us. Yahweh saves us. Yahweh shua. Yahweh shua. Ya shua. Ya shua. Ja shua, Jesus, Jesus. The child that is born tonight is Yahweh who saves us from our sins, Jesus.
So the anointed one, the messiah, the Christ that we have been waiting for has come, but not in the way we expected. We thought that the messiah would be a descendant of David and would rule as king. Instead we find that the Christ is really God Incarnate, God in the flesh, a human being, like you and I. Our wait is over and we can rejoice because the messiah has come and is named Jesus.
When Joseph woke up from the dream he knew exactly what he had to do. As always, he was obedient to God. He married Mary and named their son Jesus. He protected Jesus from King Herod by hiding his family in Egypt. And he brought the young Jesus back to Nazareth when he would grow and prepare himself for ministry. So Joseph fulfilled his role in the biblical drama. We don't know what happened to him after that. All we know was that he was a carpenter and had a large family. From all accounts he was just an ordinary person who had an extraordinary encounter with God.
That is what happens at Christmas, ordinary people have extraordinary encounters with God. You should expect tonight that your encounter with Jesus will have extraordinary effects on you. Whatever problems are facing you, Christ has come to help. Whatever evil you have done in the past, Christ has come to forgive you and restore you to proper relationship with God. And if you are grieving over the loss of loved one, or a job, or health, of something else, Christ has come to comfort you. This is the good news and the great gift from God at Christmas.
Note: Excerpted from a sermon. Full sermon can be read in Malankara World. http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermons_Rev-to-Joseph_Howard.htm
News: Opening of the New Arabian Gulf (UAE) Chapter of Medical Mission
The opening ceremony of the medical mission/ SEUSOMM chapter in the Arabian Gulf region is scheduled for February 16 and 17, 2012 at Fujairah, UAE, by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, our beloved Holy Father and Patriarch, in conjunction with the consecration of the newly built St. Peter's Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. HB Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos, HE Mor Mathews Ivanios, HE Mor Coorilose Geevarghese and HE Mor Issac Ostatheos are expected to be present at the inauguration. Fujairah is in the outskirts of Dubai.
Read more about the Medical Mission and the new Chapter opening in Malankara World http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Org/SEUSOMM/Default.htm
Remaining Features in Malankara World Journal Issue 42
7. Book Excerpt: In the School of Prayer - Lesson 16: The Power of Persevering Prayer
This week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray deals with the Power of Persevering Prayer.
Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest. That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When, after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh, and it has all the appearance of pious submission, to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request.
It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome. When once faith has taken its stand upon God's word, and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek God's will and honor alone in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay. It knows from Scripture that the power of believing prayer is simply irresistible; real faith can never be disappointed.
Read the rest of the lesson in Malankara World. http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Murray_16-Presevering-prayer.htm
8. Our Prayers Must Conform to God's Purpose
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. - 1 John 5:14-15
A commonbut only partly correctidea about prayer is that its purpose is to get things from God and to change His mind regarding the course of events. As John says, if we ask according to His will, He hears, but it is in the other part where misunderstanding lies.
Answer this: Is our idea of God nothing more than that of a greater human parent? Perhaps few will admit to this, but it is nonetheless a reality. God the Father undoubtedly relates to us like a parent, and Jesus tells us to think of Him and address Him as our Father. So far, so good.
Now we must ask: What should a Father be like? We run into trouble here because all our examples of fathers are human, and every human father has been deficient in many ways. We are now dealing with a flawless Father, perfect in every way. He is eternal, perfect in wisdom, knows the end from the beginning, has unimaginable power, and does absolutely everything out of love. He does everything for the perfection and completion of His purpose, whether for us individually or for what He is working out universally.... Continue Reading in Malankara World.
9. Searching for Christmas
One Christmas night, Our Lord came down into a modern city to see what people were doing. Everyone was celebrating "Happy Holidays!"
Christ met a policeman directing traffic and asked: "What does 'Happy Holidays' mean?" The policeman eyed Him suspiciously. "Where are you from?"
"From Bethlehem." "Where?" "Bethlehem," Our Lord repeated.
"Oh Dont you know its a holiday for kids?" "What is the origin of the holiday?" Our Lord asked.
"Look, you ask too many questions. Can't you see I'm busy? ... Continue Reading
10. Surviving the Holidays
For all the promise of joy, peace and harmony that comes with the holiday season, the reality for millions of people is that the season is anything but a celebration. For many, it's a reminder of lost loved ones, personal disappointments and dreams left unfulfilled.
But for life coach Teri Johnson, whose personal journey through an imperfect life now inspires others to reach for the lives they've always wanted, the negative "nevers" of the disappointing hand life may have dealt you is where the healing starts. By confronting a never-ending and unproductive cycle of negativity, the elusive joy of the holiday season can be found not just now but every day of the year, says Johnson, author of the newly released book, Overcoming the Nevers. ... Continue Reading
11. Enrich Your World
"We are not here merely to make a living. We are here to enrich the world." Woodrow Wilson
Most people that I know go off to work in the morning to make a living. That's what I did for many years. Parts of it were quite fun and very rewarding, and a lot of it was not.
When I look back now I can clearly see that the rewarding times were when I was making a difference in the world. The other times I was just making a living. ... Continue Reading..
12. Health: The Testosterone (Hormone) To Your Heart's Rescue
I wrote my first book The "T" Factor in 2000. In it, I described testosterone as the king of hormones, and showed how not having enough can be deadly, but having more of it can help you live longer and better. It's only taken conventional medicine 12 years, but they're finally starting to realize what I've been saying all this time. I just read a new study where researchers show that not having enough testosterone can be deadly for your heart.
They looked at almost 4,000 thousand people and followed them for over five years. Those who had the least free testosterone were 71% more likely to die from heart disease than those who had the most. In fact, in a brand-new review of other studies by the prestigious journal Nature, researchers showed that people with heart disease have significantly lower testosterone than healthy people. ... Continue Reading
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In HIS Service
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World Journal
ID No: 956