Message from the Diocesan Episcopa April 2015Date : 22-03-2016

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

The “Resurrection of Jesus” is an event which the Eastern Churches celebrate more than anything else regarding the life and work of Jesus Christ. It made the whole difference in the life of the disciples who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and the burial of the body in the tomb under the seal of the Roman government. The celebration of Jesus’ resurrection became important to His believers not simply because of an empty tomb or the words of the women who first visited that tomb, but because of the truth they saw and experienced. They could feel His presence, see Him, hear Him, walk with Him – thereby enabling them to believe beyond doubt that the risen Lord is alive and is with them. Therefore they went about preaching to all nations, that “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2: 36).

 

The St. James liturgy that we use in our Holy Qurbana considers Jesus holistically, mentioning of His incarnation, public ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming. Every time we commemorate Good Friday and Easter, Jesus, the Lord of the Church, is to be understood in a holistic way. We spend 50 days of lent to meditate on the life and work of Jesus Christ, preparing ourselves to understand the mystery and meaning of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. Dorothy Sayers, an English mystery writer(1893-1957) said that to make the Easter story into something that neither startles, shocks, terrifies, nor excites is “to crucify the Son of God afresh”.

 

The post-resurrection life of the early apostles was one of ‘rebirth experience’. First of all, they were brought together by the risen Jesus to become the early church with one accord and one spirit. They were asked to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which they did. As promised by Jesus, they were all filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit to become the witnesses of the risen Jesus (Acts 1: 8). So they went about preaching the crucified and risen Jesus. This was not an easy task. The authorities of the day warned them against speaking of Jesus, jailed them and beat them. There was persecution and some early Christians were killed. All these intimidations did not deter the early apostles, instead they prayed for the empowering of the Holy Spirit and went about preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4: 23-31). The believers in Jesus Christ grew in leaps and bounds and churches were planted in several nations.

 

The Church of the day stands in continuation to this historic resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let the Great Lent enable us to look into the life and work of Jesus Christ with a spiritual attempt to internalize His pathos. When we think of the nails with which Jesus was crucified as the one driven by ‘you and me’ it leads us to repentance and to love Jesus as ‘my Lord and Savior’. Our everyday with Jesus enables us to look into the Cross of Christ, sometimes in anger, sometimes in troubles, sometimes in confusion, sometimes in despair, sometimes in joy, sometimes in peace to understand the mosaic of life in the light of the mystery of the crucified one.

 

The early church met as house-churches. This is true even today until the gathered community moves to a common place and later owns a ‘place of worship’. That tells us about the significance of our homes, which are dedicated to have a family altar. It is my desire that all our homes in the diocese observe 2015 as a ‘Family Year’, and focus our attention to ‘discipleship within the family’.

 

Christ is the head of the family. The love of God revealed in Jesus Christ binds us all together as one unit. We learn to love God and love each other, within the family circle. Our love for God enables us to have our personal devotion and study the Holy Bible. The parents must gather together the members of the family for praising God, studying the word of God, and praying for all concerns (Deuteronomy 6: 4f). Such a family will be the first Sunday School in the life of the children and the parents will remain as their first Sunday School Teachers. The Gospel of Luke is telling us how Jesus matured in religious knowledge at the age of 12, learning from his parents at the Nazareth home, competent enough to talk with the Scribes of the day and learn from them. It is written that the Pharisees and Scribes were all amazed at his words of wisdom.

 

The religious instruction in our local parishes is a continuation of the religious practice one will have at one’s own home. Our love for God enables us to love the other. Our love for God enables us to reach out to those who are at a distance. Mission starts from the heart of God. It is kindled in our hearts. It goes on lighting the lives of so many in our world.

 

2015 is beckoning us for more organized activities. The parishes of our diocese are urged to form Senior Fellowship units at the parish level following the model of the Edavaka Mission, and submit a report about the Senior Fellowship to the Diocesan Office. The ‘Going Green’ project should be an ongoing program, and needs the attention of our parishes. The Trinity Mar Thoma Parish Houston took the initiative in planting 40 trees in 2014. The Youth Fellowship is bringing out a poster encouraging all of us to be eco-friendly. The Sevika Sanghom has been asked to place ‘Recycling Bins’ in their respective parishes as a token of their commitment to the ministry of eco-justice. Let us all remember that it is into the cradle of the green-earth that God created us as human beings. We are part of the earth where life thrives, and it is our God-given responsibility to keep it green.

 

Several people have asked me about the medication I have been taking over the past one year. I am being treated for ‘Alopecia Areata’. I have consulted the doctors at the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, and I am following their advice. Their treatment goal is to minimize the auto-immune responses and thereby allow the hair follicles to regenerate hair. I thank all of you for your prayers while I am undergoing treatment and for your cooperation in the various programs of the diocese.

 

The 31st Diocesan Family Conference is scheduled to take place at the Hilton Stamford Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Connecticut from July 2 to 5, 2015. This conference is being hosted jointly by the parishes in the Northeast region. Our Metropolitan, the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma, will bless us by his presence and leadership. Rev. Dr. Sham P. Thomas, Bangalore, will lead us in the Bible centered thematic presentations. I am expecting a large number of families to attend and participate in the Family Conference. The theme chosen for the conference is, “Harvest in the Family of Families - Hope for humanity” based on Hosea 6: 11. As a faith community, the Mar Thoma Church has grown in the west in many ways, but when it comes to our families, what is the harvest that we are reaping? This is a time for introspection. The church is called to be the hope for the world. In a broken, wounded, and bleeding world, are the local church communities a tower of hope for humanity for the whole creation? Let the Diocesan Family Conference challenge all of us for a reconstruction and renewed growth so that the Lord of the harvest would say, “Good and faithful….enter into the joy of your Master”.

 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all!

 

Yours in Christ’s ministry,

 

Mar Theodosius+