P: Dearly Beloved, pray with me that … may be acceptable to the Lord.
C: Lord, we humbly knock at your door…. as he dwelt in the Apostles. (Taken from the Order of Worship for Holy Qurbana)
Dearly beloved in Christ:
The “Church” is basically a worshipping and witnessing community (Acts.2: 42-47). The Holy Qurbana is renewal of the covenantal relationship with Christ. Worship in Christianity is communication and communion with God. It is also a visible form of our faith in Triune God, who is creator, redeemer and the sustainer.
This month we are meditating upon the liturgical passage, which is in the 2nd Part of the Liturgy of the Holy Communion. This part is called “The Communion.”
Holy Communion in Mar Thoma Church is always a public, participatory and corporate action. The Celebrant and the congregation are equally important in the Holy Qurbana. Before we try to understand the meaning of the above liturgical prayer let us try to understand the liturgical action associated with this prayer.
Liturgical action of washing of hands and bowing of head: We may have noticed that the Celebrant washing his hands after the “Prayer of Confession and Benediction.” Before the last supper Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. In all traditions and cultures, washing of the hands symbolizes purity and cleanliness. The celebrant washes his hands at the start of the Holy Qurbana service before he wears the Holy Vestments and also at the start of the 2nd part of the Holy Communion. Washing of hands implies purity and cleanliness and is essential as Celebrant stands in God’s Holy place and leads the worship service. It also points to self-preparation.
The Celebrant bows his head with his hands spread, and says “Dearly beloved, pray with me that this service may be acceptable to the Lord.” Bowing of head with hands spread towards the congregation symbolizes penitence, submission, respect and humility.
Then the celebrant turns towards the Holy Altar and falls on his face and prays (St. Mat. 26:38-40). This symbolizes seeking God’s forgiveness and grace so as to continue with the celebration of Holy Eucharist. Let us look into two thoughts relating to the above liturgical prayers:
1. Liturgical service is participatory in nature As discussed, the Holy Communion is participatory in nature. Here the Celebrant and the Congregation join together to worship the Holy Triune God. When priest Zechariah was praying and burning incense at the temple of the Lord, the whole multitude of the people were praying outside (St. Luke 1:8-11). Jesus asked his disciples particularly to Peter, James and John to ‘watch and pray’ at Gethsemane where he himself was praying to God the Father. But the Bible says, when Jesus came back, he found them sleeping (St. Luke 22:39-46). Jesus’ command to his disciples is to watch and pray. Our spirit and body/flesh should equally be strong to watch and pray. The congregation and the celebrant together participate in prayer in the Holy Qurbana.
2. We should pray in one mind and one spirit The Celebrant and the congregation should have one mind and spirit while standing before the Throne of Grace. Worship and service is pleasing to God only when all join together in one spirit. In Acts of the Apostles we read the 120 people (Jesus’ community) “…with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:12-14). On the day of the Pentecost all were together in one place, and God blessed them by pouring the Holy Spirit to witness and proclaim that Jesus is Christ (Acts 2:1ff).
Therefore true worship is ‘being/becoming’ one in Christ. In St. Paul’s Epistle to Philippians, St. Paul says, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil 2:1-2). Jesus says, “…if two of you agree on earth about anything and they ask it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” So promise of Jesus is “if we are gathered in His name” and have “the same spirit,” Jesus is present amongst us and our prayers will be answered by God. So unity of mind and spirit enables intercession.
So we should be mindful that coming to worship means being in one spirit andmind to worship the true God and therefore we should be humble before His Throne of Grace. We are called as worshipping community to have fellowship with Triune God and with each other. Responsibility of the congregation is to pray with the celebrant and also for the celebrant.
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) 1. YFF will be holding an Ice Cream Social on Sunday, June 14th, 2015 after the service. 2. Monthly YFF meeting will be held on Sunday, June 28th from 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffy Daniel [153 Celler Avenue, New Hyde Park; Tel: 516-328-0135].