Why we celebrate Holy Communion? Every Holy Communion is the celebration of what God the Father has done in our life in and through His Son Jesus the Christ. So Holy Communion is the celebration and also proclamation of the ‘salvation history of human kind’, which we experience through Jesus Christ. This month I would like to reflect on the importance of preaching the Word of God during the Holy Communion Service.
The Holy Communion Service is divided into two major parts: First is “Ante-Communion”, and second is “Communion.’ The word “Ante-Communion” means “before Communion”, as “ante” means “before.” So “Ante-Communion” precedes “Communion”. The “Communion” starts after the “Prayer of Confession and Absolution.”
The first part (Ante-Communion) concludes with ‘Prayer of Confession.’ Therefore first part of the liturgy (Ante-Communion) should enable us to enter into Communion (Second Part). So this part is also considered as “preparation for Communion.” The “Ante-Communion” liturgical prayers are all prayers of repentance, where the believing community proclaims that we are sinners and God is Holy, Almighty, Compassionate and Forgiving. So, first part help us to understand that we need God’s mercy, as we are sinners and unworthy. As we stand in the presence of God’s holiness we realize our unworthiness.
The Liturgy of the Word is readings from the Bible. In the Holy Communion service “The Liturgy of the Word” signifies reading of the 1st and 2nd Lessons, the Epistle reading, the Gospel reading, and also the Sermon (Preaching from the Bible). The Liturgy of the Word is very significant and important in the Liturgy of Holy Communion, more particularly in the first part (Ante-communion).
One cannot bifurcate the liturgy of Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Word. Both are co-related and complimentary. The liturgy has its basis on the Word of God, and the Word of God gives meaning to the Holy Communion liturgy. The purpose of “Liturgy of the Word” is to lead us to repentance and renewal, so the preaching/sermon is to lead us in the same path.
Sermon is God speaking to us. As Gospel is Christ speaking to us, so the sermon is proclamation of the incarnated Word of God (Jesus Christ). There are no liturgical sacraments without the Biblical reading and its exposition (sermon). Sermon is ‘feeding the people’ from the word of God (Scriptures). The sermon is therefore ‘Spiritual food’ that renews, nourishes, and strengthens us in God’s faith in God’s world. The sermon is always followed by the Prayer of Confession. It is because of sermon or preaching that leads us to true repentance.
In St. John’s Gospel we read, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (St. John 1:1, 2). So Sermon is re-looking into the “Incarnated Word” who is behind the creation of this world and who also is the redeemer. So Jesus’ life, teaching, ministry, death on the Cross, resurrection, and the second coming are the main subjects of sermon. The purpose of the sermon is not just speaking about the text, but to make it contextual and applicable in the current situation.
The objective of the liturgy of the Word is to bring transformation into the lives of people. It is not just telling the past event or to pass on the information. It is more about ‘how God is active in the present situation.’ So the purpose is to nurture people in the faith of Christ. The sermon in this sense helps us to understand God’s compassion and love for his people in the past, in the present time and also in the days to come.
Sermon is not just for listening. Sermon is preached to prepare us to obey God’s word. Obedience to the Word of God is intended from preaching. Jesus said “Therefore everyone who hears these word of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (St. Matt. 7:24).
To conclude, I would say, listening to sermon is ‘listening to Jesus and his Word.’ The sermon is ‘served to us’ by His anointed one.” May every word of God that we listen lead us to true repentance before God who is merciful and compassionate, thereby making us obedient to His words.
May God keep us in His Warm and comforting Embrace. Rev. Shinoi Joseph
1. Sunday school starts every Sunday at 9:00AM. 2. Little Children’s Ministry (Ages: 3 – 6) will be held on all Malayalam Holy Communion Service Sundays from 9 AM – 9:45 AM. 3. Sunday School Diocesan Exam will be held on Sunday, May 3, 2015.
Edavaka Mission meetings are heldevery Thursday at 7:30 PMat the church. Any venue changes of the meetings will be announced in 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.
YOUNG FAMILY FELLOWSHIP (YFF) Monthly YFF meeting will be held on Sunday, May 24th from 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Jiji Mathew [30 Cantiague Lane, Westbury, NY 11590; Tel: 516-333-1559]