Importance of Great Intercession in the Holy Communion Liturgy
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, starting from February 7th, the Church is entering into a season of Great Lent (50 days). During these 50 days we remember, cherish, and glorify the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. These days are the days of “Celebration of Liberation.” With fasting, praying, and mediating the word of God, we follow the path of Jesus. It is experiencing the best (Jesus), and also sharing our joy as Zacchaeus did when he encountered Jesus (Lk.19:8). Last year, in our March Newsletter edition, we studied the significance of Lent in our life. Therefore, I do not wish to repeat the same. Instead, this month we are going to understand the significance of Great Intercession in the Liturgy of Holy Communion.
But before we study the significance of the Great Intercession, it is necessary to answer the following questions: 1. What is Intercessory Prayer? 2. Why it is important for Church to intercede?
Intercession is praying to God’s for other’s needs. Intercession is pleading to God for His intervention and blessings. It is refusing to let Him go until He in his grace showers blessings, just as Jacob refused to let go (Gen.32:22-32). St. Paul says, "We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities, and against rulers of darkness, and spiritual powers in the heavens above" (Eph. 6:12).
Ministry of interceding as God’s given ministry: The ministry of intercession is given to the Church. It is a very important element in the liturgy of worship – just as Adoration, prayer of repentance, thanksgiving, and dedication. Being Christians, we are also called to intercede, as Christ is ever interceding for us (Heb 7:25). In St. John’s gospel, we study about Jesus’ High priestly prayer (St. Jn. 17). Here Jesus intercedes not only for His disciples, but for everyone. Even when He was experiencing the pain and agony at the Cross, He prayed to God to forgive everyone. The Bible pictures Jesus as the great intercessor. St Paul says, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” (1 Tim. 2:1). We are therefore called to intercede for others, just as we pray for our own needs. In that aspect, “intercession” is also a selfless act of a true believer.
God values our intercession: The Bible teaches us how people like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Habakkuk, Centurion, Stephen, St. Paul, and many others interceded before God. God listens to true intercession of His believers. Jesus has promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst” (St. Mt. 18:19, 20). By interceding, we imbibe Jesus’ heart. It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to truly intercede before God. Paul says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Rom 8:26).
The Great Intercession comes after Epiclesis, which we mediated last month. During the Great Intercession, the Celebrant raises both his hands in prayer (Biblical reference Ex.17:11; Psa.28:2; 141:2). It is the deacons or the co-celebrants who read these prayers. The celebrant also prays at this time. Here the whole community joins in interceding before God. The liturgy also has other small intercessory prayers. But Great Intercession is very different from those prayers for the following aspects: 1. Here the celebrant and the community prays and remembers all Church leaders, and more particularly for our Church leaders. 2. We remember the lives of those great people in history who taught us to be faithful to God. We also remember the three councils, which proclaimed and confessed the Christian faith. Our prayer is to strengthen us in faith that we may truly follow the footsteps of our forefathers and foremothers. 3. We pray to God to give us the understanding of stewardship towards all resources of this universe.
So we can say that ‘Great Intercession’ is more universal in nature, and reminds us of the journey of faith of our forefathers and foremothers. We pray for universal church, Mar Thoma Church, sister churches, countries, and more particularly the country that we live in and for its leaders. We pray for the goodness and wellbeing of the whole world. This goodness is promised only when we are true to God and seek Him truly.
Intercession is therefore a form of petition. Great intercession can be understood as universal litany. The true intercession is always a source of blessings to others and to us. Intercession becomes fruitful only when we have faith and empathy. Without compassion for others, no prayer is being heard by God. May God Almighty enable us to participate in the Great Intercession truly and faithfully.
May God keep us in His Warm and comforting Embrace,
• Sunday School starts every Sunday at 9:00AM • Little Blessings Ministry (ages 3-6) will be held on all Malayalam service Sunday’s at 9:00AM • Sunday, February 7th,will be recognized as Scout Sunday. Any scouts interested in participating and receiving a Scout Sunday Patch are requested to contact Leena Mathew • Girl scouts will also be having a cookie booth sale after serviceso don't forget to support our parish troops.
Weekly Bible Studyclasses will be held every Thursday at 7:30PM at the church
Edavaka Mission Activities
Thoma Voluntary Evangelist's Association was found by our late
Metropolitan Most Rev. Abraham Mar Thoma out of his strong conviction
that each Mar Thomite is an Evangelist. Evangelism
is the utmost mission of this Organization. The Parish level unit is
known as the Edavaka Mission and at the Long Island Mar Thoma Church,
New York, we give stress to the seven fold activities such as
Intercessory Prayer, Bible Study, Sharing of Experience, House Visit,
Visiting the Sick, Group Activities etc
Edavaka Mission regular
meetings are conducted every Thursday at 7.30 PM at the Church as well
as Members' houses with prior announcement at the Parish on Sundays.
Fasting Prayer meetings are conducted once every month at the members' houses either the last Saturdays or Thursdays depending upon members and Achen's
convenience with prior announcement at the Parish on Sundays.
Edavaka Mission also support various Mission projects such as sponsorship of students at St. Thomas School,
Visakhapatanam, India. Sponsoraship of an Evangelist in India. Medical
and financial aid to different individuals and families based on
requests received by Achen time to time. Edavaka Mission welcomes
donations from members for the above mentioned activities and
sponsorship. For details, please contact our Achen Rev. A. B. Binu, Mr.
Mammen Samuel or Achamma Jacob.
Youth Fellowship meetings will be held on Friday, February 5th, and Friday, February 19th, at 7PM at the church
NERYF NYC Rescue Mission monthly outreach program dates until June 2016, and 3rd Annual NERYF Retreat (2/12 - 2/14) at Camp Pinnacle information can be found on the NERYF Facebook page. YOUNG FAMILY FELLOWSHIP Young Family Fellowship monthly meeting will be held on Sunday, February 28th