P: Dearly beloved, pray for me as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
C: As for us, our days are like grass. We bloom like the flowers of the field. Bless us, O Lord. (Taken from the Order of Worship for Holy Qurbana)
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
This month we will reflect on the above liturgical prayers. Facing the congregation, the celebrant asks congregation to pray for him, and reminds the congregation that as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. The biblical reference is Psalms 103:13. The congregation in response says Psalms 103:15: “As for man, his days are like grass. We bloom like the flowers of the field.” The following are two simple reflections based on these prayers.
1. God as heavenly Father is full of compassion, love and care The above liturgical prayers remind us that God is our Father, and He is always compassionate on those who fear Him. The word “fear” as used here means respect, reverence, and obedience. God has revealed Himself as ‘Father’ in the Bible. God as father is used in a metaphorical way in Old Testament (Ex.4: 22 ff; Deut 32:6; Isa.9: 6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer.3: 4,19; 31:9; Psa.68: 5; 103:13; Prov.3:12; Mal.1:6; 2:10). But in New Testament, and more particularly in Gospels, Jesus addressed God as the Father (Abba) in heaven (Mt.6: 9, 26; 18:12-14; Lk.6: 35-36; 12:32; Jn.14:1-2; 16:27; Rom.8:15-16; 1Jn.3:1). In Gospels alone God is addressed as the Father for around 165 times.
For Jesus, God is ‘my father’ ‘our father’ ‘your father.’ He taught his disciples to address God as ‘our heavenly father’. God the creator, to whom we worship, adore and pray, is not a God who is far away from us or is disinterested in the world affairs. But God being the creator, is our heavenly eternal father, who is close to His created world, and works for its eternity/redemption (Rom.8: 21,22). God’s identity as heavenly Father implies not only His sovereignty but also his intimate loving compassionate relationship to us humans, who are created in His own image and likeness. God as father is always approachable and is also forgiving (Luke 15). Jesus, by revealing God as the heavenly father, taught the world of God’s love, care and compassion. Our heavenly father is always good to us, and does only good for us, and is more caring than our own earthly parents. Jesus says “… so if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him (Mt.7: 10).
2. We are nothing without God’s mercy and compassion We are nothing without the compassion of our heavenly Father. What does it mean that when the Bible says ‘our days are like grass? Are we only worth like a blade of grass? Does this mean that human beings, who are created in God’s image and likeness, are mere grass or flowers of the field? Does it mean that we are worthless? We should understand the meaning of this liturgical prayer in the light of Psalms 103, and also in the light of other biblical teachings about the human beings.
Jesus says, “are you not worth much more than birds who do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them (Mt6: 25-26). He says if the heavenly Father gives glorified beauty to lilies of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? (Mt.6: 30). The Book of Genesis chapter 1-2 speaks about creation narrative. God created human beings in His own image and likeness (Gen.1: 26). Lord God formed human out of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Gen.2: 7). So the human is the union of dust and the divine breath of God. He shares the same breath as the breath of God. Therefore, human is ‘divinely human’, as he/she has the breath that God has within Himself.
David says, “What is man that You take thought of him and the son of man that You care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty (Psa.8: 4-5). And again in Psalms 139:14, David sings, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” So the human being has a worth that is more than lilies or grass of the field or the birds or the animals, because we being the crown of creation are created in God’s image and likeness. But that glorified image is distorted because of human’s disobedience towards God. But God in His everlasting love is compassionate in nature, as He forgives our sins and remembers what we are. Heavenly Father knows what are we made from and is always compassionate to those who fear him.
As we seek God’s mercy and compassion through His son Jesus Christ in participating in the Lord’s table, let us always remember that we are mere nothings without the heavenly Father’s compassionate grace, who not only gave in us His life-giving breath, but also gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to redeem us.
May God keep us in His Warm and comforting Embrace, Rev. Shinoi Joseph Vicar
• Little Blessings Ministry (Nursery-2nd) and Junior Blessings (3rd&4th) will be held on all Sunday’s at 9:00AM • Leadership & College Tracks (5th grade and up) will be held on English Sundays at 9AM and Malayalam Sundays at 9:50AM after the divine service • Regional Talent Festival is on September 17, 2016 from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM at St. Thomas MTC, Yonkers, NY
Weekly Bible Study classes 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 – ELEMENT 26 • Youth Fellowship meetings will be held on Friday, August 12th& 19that 7:00PM at the church • 3 on 3 Intra-parish basketball tournament will take place on August 27th at the church beginning at 8:30AM o Please contact Ryan Mathews or a YF Committee Member to participate
YOUNG FAMILY FELLOWSHIP • Monthly meeting will be announced at a later date
CHOIR • Malayalam and English Choir practices will be held either before or after service on their respective weeks