The Great Lent: A Celebration of Liberation The Church has entered into the season of Great Lent. Great Lent is for a period of 50 days. The number 50 has great symbolic meaning. 50 symbolize “liberation” or “fullness.” Fiftieth (50th) is seven times seven and the one. In the book of Leviticus we read, “You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord (Lev.23:15,16). And again regarding Jubilee the Bible says, “You are also to count off seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven Sabbaths of years, namely forty-nine years. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilees for you, and each of you shall return to his own property and each of you shall return to his family (Lev.25:8,10). So 50th is coming back (returning) to family.
We are created in the image of God and in His likeness. God’s image was distorted due to the fall of human being and this image was restored and redeemed through the incarnation of God into this world. So 50 days of Great Lent is the celebration of the liberation from the bondage of sins. This Liberation one experiences in and through Christ Jesus. During this 50 days of Lent we remember commemorate and celebrate Christ event. Lent is also a celebration because through Christ Jesus’ death on Cross and resurrection, we are redeemed from the bondage of sin. During the 50 days Great Lent, we commemorate Jesus’ forty days fasting in the wilderness, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he gave his life on cross to redeem humanity. So lent calls us to follow the path of Jesus. During lent we meditate on the life, ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us look into some of the important aspects of Great Lent.
1. Great Lent: A call for repentance and homecoming This year Great Lent is from February 26 to April 16. February 26 the Sunday is called Pethurtho Sunday. This Syrian word means “to come back”. So Pethurtho is a call of God to “return to Him.” It is a call to return to God’s divine love and care, where one experiences forgiveness and peace. So the Church enters into the season of Great Lent through Pethurtho where we are reminded to “Return to God through Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (Jn.14:6).”We are reminded to turn away from our sins in repentance and penance thereby returning back to God who is forgiving and caring.
2. Great lent: A call to be reconciled and forgive others Shubkono was on Monday (February 27, 2017, i.e. next day after Pethurtho Sunday). Shubkona is ‘day of forgiveness and reconciliation.” Unless we are reconciled with others, lent and fasting is not acceptable. So Shubkona is considered as the “door to proper lent.” As we enter into Great lent, we have to be reconciled with our fellow-being and also with God. As God the father has reconciled with the world through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20), we ought to reconcile with others. In St. Matthew 5:23- 24, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift. So fasting, praying and offering are not acceptable to God, unless we are reconciled with others. Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive our debts and sins as we forgive our debtors.” So Father God is forgiving tothose his dear children who forgive others. So Great lent is thus a call to “forgive and be reconciled.”
3. Great Lent: A call to be in Christ and to be his true followers Lent is the period of imbibing of God’s purification in us and giving up of sinfulness. It is a period of repentance and transformation. It is a call to come back to God and experience the joy of being redeemed. As season of Lent is a preparation for the Easter, the believing community fast. Fast and Feast always go together. Without fasting there is no feasting. Fasting is a voluntary act of abandoning the worldly things. Fasting is in one way “giving up”. Here we giving up all those to which we are much fond of. Traditional way of fasting was to give up meat, milk products, fish and all those ‘so called healthy foods.’ But I would suggest togive up ‘all those’ to which we are very much attached/attracted to. When Jesus was hungry, Satan tempted Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But Jesus answered, “It is written Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Fasting is ‘being detached from worldly/material/perishable things’ and is also being attached to God who is Eternal and Imperishable. It is giving up the lust and be fully immersed in Christ. It is giving out the impure and purifying the body mind and soul. So this is the time to read and meditate the word of God and believers are encouraged to spend more time in prayer. Lent is therefore crucifying the self in the love of Christ.
As we are into the Great Lent season let this time be a time of celebration of liberation where we are detached from the worldly pleasures and seek the true joy which is in Christ Jesus.
Wishing you all “Happy and meaningful lent season.”
May God keep us in His Warm and comforting Embrace Rev. Shinoi Joseph Vicar
Sunday School starts every Sunday at 9:00 AM Little Blessings Ministry (ages 3-6) will be held on all Malayalam service Sunday’s at 9:00 AM Below is a list of events we have planned this year for our Sunday School (the events underlined are NERSS events): Saturday, April 8th, 2017 (9:00 AM to 2:00 PM): Spring Fest Sunday, April 23rd, 2017: Final Examination Sunday, May 7th, 2017: Diocesan Examination Sunday, June 4th, 2017 (After Holy Communion Service) Senior Graduation Ceremony Saturday, June 24th, 2017 (8:00 AM to 3:00 PM): Local Talent Festival Sunday, June 25th, 2017 (During Sunday School Hours): SS End of the Year Ceremony July 6th to 9th (Junior & Senior Conference) July 11th to July 16th (6:00 PM to 9:00 PM): Vacation Bible School Saturday, September 16th, 2017 (8:00 AM to 4:00 PM): NERSS Regional Talent Festival
There will be no monthly meeting held in the month of March due to lent prayer meetings.
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 will be meeting March 3rd, 10th, 24th & 31st. Details will be sent in Youth Fellowship weekly emails. All youths are encouraged to attend and enjoy the fellowship.
NERYF Retreat will take place from March 17th - 19th, 2017 at Tuscarora Inn & Conference Center, 3300 River Rd, Mt Bethel, PA 18343.The theme for this conference will be Transformation taken from Romans 12:1-2 and Registration is $115.00 per person.
For more information or to sign up, please contact Blessy Thomas or check the YF weekly email.