P: Praise be to You, O Lord our God forever…O God grant us Your blessings. C: All the earth shall bow down before you … and give you thanks for Your mercy towards us. P: We praise You, O Lord, because in Your abundant…and ever to offer glory and praise to You and to Your only begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit. C: Amen (Taken from the Order of Worship for Holy Qurbana)
Dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the season where we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. From December 1st onwards, the twenty-five day lent starts. This season is also called the Advent season (in Western Church it is from November 15th to December 25th). The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ The Greek word for this is Parousia meaning ‘the coming again’ or ‘Second coming of Jesus.’ So Advent is not just the celebration of Incarnation, but also the season where the believing community looks forward for Jesus’ Second coming. So this is the time for preparation and rededication.
The above liturgical prayers have great significance, especially as we reflect on this during the Christmas season. Here the celebrant and the faith community praise the Holy Trinity after partaking in the Divine Fellowship. Based on the above prayers let us reflect on the following thoughts:
1. Eucharistic meal is God’s divine providence for us In the Epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:10-11). The universality of Jesus as Messiah is proclaimed here. Jesus is God’s greatest divine providence for humanity. St. Paul says, “where sin has abounded, God’s grace has also abounded all the more (Rom.5:20).” God cannot forsake humanity who is created in His own image and likeness. To redeem the fallen humanity He became human without compromising with His Divinity (Eph.3:17-19).
Jesus instituted this Holy Eucharist when He was celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples. Passover meal is the meal of celebration of deliverance. The Israelite community ate the Paschal Lamb before their exodus from the land of Slavery (Egypt) to the Promised Land (Ex.12:5-6). John the Baptist, introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God. Jesus is the Lamb of God who not only takes away our sins but also leads us to the promised Salvation (Jn.1:29; Isa.53:7). To the thief who said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:41). In celebrating and receiving the Eucharist, we partake in the new Paschal meal (God’s heavenly meal) and participate in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Eucharist is therefore our participation in the Christ-events – birth, passion, death and resurrection (Lk.22:19; Jn 6:35; 51).
As a meal brings family and friends together, revealing our closeness and intimacy towards each other, by participating in the Divine meal (Holy Qurbana), we are experiencing this closeness with Jesus Christ – whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for humanity, thereby revealing God’s special providence to us for our salvation. The bread that is shared among the many during the Holy Qurbana is symbolic of the oneness of the believing community in Christ Jesus and also our closeness with Jesus. The Holy Qurbana not only reveals our closeness, communion, and bond of love towards our Savior, but also deepens that special relationship. St. Paul says, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ. Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor.10:16-17; 11:29).
2. Partaking in the Holy Fellowship can either be for our blessings or for our curse. Eucharistic meal is for the faithful. In faith we are called to partake in this fellowship. This faith is as follows: “The Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, broken and shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of sins, are given for the health of your body and soul.”
The celebrant prays here that the Holy Body and Blood which we have partaken be not for our condemnation, but for life and salvation. We should be utmost serious in participating in Holy Qurbana. A lack of faith on the part of the person while participating, and receiving, in the Holy Elements will bring curse on him/her (1 Cor.11:27-29). Only if we receive the Holy Elements in faith will the Holy Communion be a means of Grace and also a source of blessing to us. Holy Communion explains that it is the mystical divine communion of human beings with God, and with each other, through Christ and the Spirit. Every time we partake in the Holy Body and Holy Blood we are experiencing God’s divine grace and mercy in our life.
In partaking in the Holy Communion, we remember what God has done in our life – i.e. giving His only begotten Son for the salvation of whole world. The Eucharist, being the heart and summit of the life of every Christian, not only nourishes our faith in Christ, but also leads us to abundance in life in Christ (Eternal life). “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread will live forever, and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn.6:51).
In participating in the Eucharistic meal we are being nourished spiritually. Holy Qurbana strengthens our bond with Jesus and with each other. God, by giving His self, reflects His love, mercy and care for us. God's whole plan for our salvation is directed in our participation in the life of Christ. In the Eucharist, by eating the Body of Christ and drinking the Blood of Christ, we become united to the person of Christ. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him” (Jn. 6:54-56).
Let me conclude. All other sacraments are bound up with Holy Qurbana, and oriented towards it. There is no feast without fast. As we enter into the 25-day lent season, let us prepare our hearts, mind and soul to accept Jesus in our lives, home, society and everywhere. As the Bible says, “there is no room for them (Mary and Joseph) so they laid the baby Jesus in a manger” (Lk.2:7). As we celebrate God’s incarnation into this world, let Christ find room in our hearts.
May God continue to bless us as His community. Rev. Shinoi Joseph Vicar
“Wishing you all a blessed and merry Christmas” (Shinoi achen and family)
• Sunday School Classes will begin at 9:00 AM every Sunday. Parents please ensure your children arrive on time • Little Blessings Ministry (Nursery-2nd) and Junior Blessings (3rd&4th) will be held on all Malayalam & Divine Sunday’s at 9:00AM
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 General Body will take place on December 4th. We ask all youth members to stay back immediately after Holy Communion Service and attend.
• Youth Fellowship will be Christmas Caroling the first three weekends of December. If you would like us to come to your house to carol, please contact a committee member. o Please note that this is not a fundraising event and meant only for Christmas spirit and cheer
• Youth Fellowship will be ending off 2016 with our annual end of the year party on December 31st at 7pm in the church auditorium. All youths are invited to attend
YOUNG FAMILY FELLOWSHIP
• Monthly meeting will be held on Sunday, December 18th, at 3:30 PM at the residence of: Drs. Shobin and Gina Oommen 35 Pilgrim St, New Hyde Park, NY 11040
• Young Family Fellowship will be participating in Santa’s Little Allstars Toy Drive, on Sunday December 4th at 2:30 PM. This is where children are invited to bring new, nontoxic, unwrapped gifts to be gifted away to pre-selected charities for childres
Monthly meeting will be held on Sat., December17that 10:00 AM at the church
SENIOR SAKHYAM FELLOWSHIP During the month of December 2016, Senior Sakhyam is organizing a trip to see the world’s most famous tree – the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, NY. The trip is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, December 17, 2016. Details will be announced in coming weeks. All parish members are welcome to attend. For information please contact Joseph V. Thomas or Koruthu Mathew