Dear Rajan Mathew;
I am an old Achen living in New York. I read postings just to learn
from the wisdom of others and to keep up with the thinking of our young
friends in our Church,because they are the future of our Church. They are
the leaders in another ten to fifteen years, by the time some of us
would be resting permenantly waching from where we are stationed by the
great Shepherd and Lord.
Your title of the posting is facinating,; made me sit and think a little.
And I asked myself how effective we the so called pastors have been in
giving the basic Orthodox ideas to our growing generation.I know from your
posting that you are or used to be an ardent church-goer and am fed up or
let me say a little 'frustrated by what is going on in our churches and
among our Church members from top to bottom. I feel we have lost the sense
of the presence (Sannidhya botham)of Christ in our midst. We have lost it
in our church gatherings and in our church services. We go to church because
we have been used to going and we continue to go, because we don't want to
appear to be rebellious or disobedient to our dear parents. We DON'T get
much out of church going. So it is natural to ask Why should we go? Why
cannot each one sit in his room and pray as our Lord has told us to do
This development of thinking is perfectly natural and I admire your sincerety
and courage to bring this to the open so that others of your age group or
even adults with this same idea may know that many in our churches are
saddended and depressed about the state of affairs in our Church right now.
Now we are ready to consider a few things for a background for reason to go
First let us consider what we mean by Church The Church is An assembly of
the faithful (believers-Christians)called or gathered together by our Lord.
This is the meaning of 'eclesia' . You remember reading Our Lords saying
"When two or three are gathered together in my name , I am in the midst of
them." So the Church is all us, baptised christians, who have an invitation
to assemble together. This is a public affair and those who have responded
to the invitation would assemble and they have an agenda. Let me digress a
Our Lord also said that a believing Christian could go into his private room
and meet the Lord in prayer and meditation. This is an individual affair, a
personal meeting with the Lord to have communion with Him( in private prayer.)
Ofcourse this is always encouraged by the Church. But the gathering together
in Public by invitation of our Lord is a public matter. We call it Public
Worship. So there is private prayer and public Worship. Going to Chuch is for
public worship most of the time. You are free to decide that you needded only
the private meeting or you are not inclined to go to the Public Worship;
(from your suggestion to Shyla).
But you may be interested to know why we assemble by invitation. We have some
things to do together as citizens of the Kingdom of God. This performance of
our public duty (Like civic duty)our spititual work or duty is alled 'litergia'
So We are actually asked to assemble to do our litergia to the Lord and to the
Gathered Community. Some people donot like to assemble in a church. Some
assemble in a hall, or a tent or a beautiful Cathedral or even at the home
of some believer It does not matter where we assemble. The ancient Israel
used to assemble in a tent when they were nomads and met their Lord there as
directed by their Leaders like Moses. When they had to move from Egypt and
travel to the promised Land they actually carried God in a box! (The tent of
the Assembly and the Arc of the Lord). and the tent was always in the midst
of the camp of the Israelites.
The Bible says the Lord dwelt among them there is a special term 'He
tabernacled among His People.' Then when they reached the Holy Land they
kept Him in a tent for some time and King David was ashamed of this and he
wanted to build a Temple for the Lord and place Him in that Temple. But the
Lord didnot give him a chance and promised him that Solomon would do that job.
So Solomon built a magnificeint Temple , it took him forty six years and when
he assembled with all Israel to dedicate the Temple he said a few things
about God living in box and temple. This you can read in the First Book of
Kings Chapter 8. especially verses 27 onwards. Take some time and read it.
You may enjoy it. So the Temple and churches (buildings) are the places were
God dwells.These places are considered holy becase of the very reason that
God dwells there. Like on Mount Sainai Moses met the Lord in the Burning Bush
and He ordered Moses to take off his shoes because it is a Holy place and the
presence of the Mighty God is there. In the Bible it is said that a vessel is
holy if it is set apart for the use of the Lord or in woshipping Him. Church
building is a holy place. It is the Assembly of God or the Church that meets
in the church(building).
This does not mean that one cannot meet the Lord in any other place. But the
church is a special meeting place Like the White House , is a very special
place because the Prsident lives there. Suppose you get a beautiful card from
the President asking you to meet him in the ''Lincon Room" won't you be
excited? If such a thing happens, I can imagine your great Joy and pride and
how meticulously you will prepare to meet hiim. Your dress, the best or even a
new one, clean shaved, best shoes and all clean, clean dress, clean body and
face You will meet him with awe and wonder and with geat Joy! Well I hope you
will get such an opportunity in your life.
But You have opportunity to meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords every
Sunday or every time you accept His invitation for the Royal banqet which he
Himself prepares or Let me say' He Himself becomes the banquet,"the Bread of
Life" and serves you. This is why we are invited to meet the Lord , and to
sit with Him and enjoy the Royal banquet in His Holy Temple.(during the
service of Qurbana) We have a few things to perform in the preparation and
serving the banquet.
I hope every Sunday the Lord will invite you to meet Him at the Table with all
the Apostles and Saints of the past (called the Cloud of witnesses) and all the
Living Faithful Christians of that particula gathering and enjoy the solemn,
Joyful and life-giving banquet served by the Lord and continue to accept that
invitation and assist your pastor/priest in the preparation.The the more you do
this the more you will be attracted towads the Lord and He willl bless you and
be merciful to you. So going to Church is to meet the Lord in the Compny of the
faithful and spend some time with Him and your faithful friens and family.Now
what do you think of going to church.? Won't you like it if it is the way I
I hope I have given you some hints to think. and made this clear to you.
Please read it and take some time to think about what you have read. Do it 'in
Spirit' and enjjoy that holy time with the Lord. Thank you for giving me this
opportunity to be in touch with you. Be in touch,