SUNDAY SERMON




SUNDAY SERMON

Gospel reading & Sermons for each Sunday Based on the Lectionary of the 

Syrian Orthodox Church

19 January 2020

posted 18 Jan 2020, 07:38 by C S Paul

19 January 2020

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Second Sunday after Denho (Baptism of our Lord)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

John 1:43-51 New King James Version (NKJV)

Philip and Nathanael

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 

44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 

51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Devotional thoughts for 2nd Sunday after Denaha

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

In the first verse of today’s reading we find a brief description about our Lord’s call given to St. Philip. Let us realize that our Lord had uttered only two words, ‘follow me’ to get St. Philip in the fold of the Apostles.

Kindly take special note of the verses 44 and 45, where St. Philip is introducing Lord Jesus to Nathaniel. St. Philip opened his mind and spoke about Lord Jesus. “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth”. Philip could present his own version about Lord Jesus within a few hours of his audience with our Lord. What is the witness of you and me? How we could introduce our Lord God, about whom we have heard, whom we have seen and whom we have tasted, from the early days of our life on this earth? Let us think and find out an answer. Will we be able to confess that He is our Lord God, our redeemer and our Savior? And if we could not, let us try our best to find out why we could not do so. Other wise our faith, worship and prayers are null and void and of no use.

Nathaniel raised a reasonable doubt on hearing that Lord Jesus hailed from Nazareth. He asked “Can there be any good come out of Nazareth”? When these words struck in the ears of Philip, he said “come and see” because he knew that Nathaniel was a great scholar. Philip’s reply to Nathaniel was greatly appreciable than his decision to follow our Lord soon on hearing His invitation to follow Him. In one thing Philip was confident. He was sure that there won’t be a chance to change his own confession about Lord Jesus, in front of Nathaniel or anyone else like him. Philip’s faith and conviction was so strong and bold. Let us think why we cannot uphold such a faith like that of Philip.

When our Lord saw Nathaniel approaching Him soon on the invitation of Philip, our Lord said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile”. What a sincere and appealing appreciation? Let us think whether our Lord could tell such an opinion about you and me. Oh Lord God, when you screen me, how many scrolls full of the lists of sins would be seen. Let us realize that the numberless sins are always blocking our way ahead in the spiritual growth and stability.

When our Lord said the first report about Nathaniel, he was getting more and more humble. If I was in his place what would have been my attitude and posing? Nathaniel asked our Lord, where you had seen me, in sincere and humble words. When Nathaniel heard the right answer for his question from our Lord, Nathaniel said “Rabbi, you are the son of God, you are the king of Israel. When Nathaniel had a close watch at our Lord, he realized the divineness, holiness and simplicity of our Lord. He easily understood that Lord Jesus was the one for whom the Israel tribe was waiting for, generations after generations. Nathaniel was sure and certain that the entire humanity had been waiting for Lord Jesus and that is why he uttered “you are the King of Israel.”

Immediately Nathaniel got a reply in his great favor. It was a great blessing in the life of a human being. We read in verse 51 “ verily verily I say unto you, Hereafter you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending up on the Son of man.s also wait to inherit such a blessing. Let us try our best to remove all sorts of hypocrisies and disguises from us. During His blessed public mission our Lord had spoken mostly about hypocrisies. In our personal lives we are filled with hypocrisies and disguises, instead of the real faith and love. Let us realize in humbleness that unless and until we would seek freedom from hypocrisies, we will not inherit a meaningful and valid spiritual life. Let us cleanse ourselves. Let us humble ourselves.

12 January 2020

posted 12 Jan 2020, 02:34 by C S Paul

12 January 2020

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

First Sunday after Denho (Baptism of our Lord)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Matthew 4:12-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Begins His Galilean Ministry

12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 

13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 

19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 

22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

The First Sunday after Danaha (EPIPHANY)

by Rev. Fr. Dr. Joy Pyngolil, Florida

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 4: 12 – 22

The reading for this Sunday gives us the great commission: "I will make you fishers of men". Christ's mission was to attract people to the "Kingdom of Heaven." In fact he made some "fishermen fishers of men" and you and me are part of that mission with a commission to "be fishers of men." The ministry of the church is to become real fishers of men. I would like to focus on three things: (a) Jesus' conviction and the mode of his ministry, (b) the category of people he elected for the mission and (c) the implication of His call.

Let's see how did he start his mission. Jesus started his mission only after John the Baptist was imprisoned. He started it late to avoid confusion among people "who is who?" He was not competing but complimenting. Jesus himself participated in the preparatory mission of John the Baptist. Jesus was convinced of his calling, ( didn't you know that I had to be in my father's house, Lk.3:49). John the Baptist witnessed him and God the Father confirmed His calling "this is my Son." In spite of all His awareness of his earthly ministry, Jesus took a wise decision to begin His ministry. Foreseeing the danger in the city he went into the country side. He sought only simple hard working people, not wise men, professionals, priests or politicians or wealthy people.

John the Baptist, the fiery preacher with many supporters, who prepared the way for Messiah, was imprisoned by authorities. Hearing this news Jesus made a retreat- a retreat to a quite place to gather simple sincere trustworthy people. Fishermen, support each other and care for one another. They don't critique but help each other to accomplish their goal. He did not go to Jerusalem for political support or to the tetrarch to confront, but humbly went with his mission a remote place. It is indicative of the evils of political authority. Absolute power is blind and kills justice. [John the Baptist was imprisoned and later killed because he stood for justice in front of spineless worm who happened to be on the throne.]

Seeing two active brothers, He invited them for a mission. Jesus used their "vocational identity" to confer on them a new vocation- "fishers of men." I 'm sure these fishermen were not fishing for fun and make aquariums. They did bring their fish to the shore and used them for food. Fisher men gathers fish in nets, bring them from the wide sea, and use them for the benefit of others. Coming ashore the fish is dead. Christ's commission to us (Church) is to gather men (humans) from the seas of wickedness to ashore dead- dead to sins and this worldly attitudes and prepare them for better service of God's creation.

Implication for our personal Lives: (a) have conviction about our calling, yet be prudent, (a) gather only trainable, trustworthy and hard working people to embark on any mission; (c) our calling is to make progressive changes in the community.

May His Holy Spirit guide us to have the conviction of our calling.

6 January 2020

posted 3 Jan 2020, 22:25 by C S Paul   [ updated 3 Jan 2020, 22:28 ]

6 January 2020

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Denho - Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ (6th January) 

This festival is called Danaha in Syriac meaning 'Dawn'. Also called Epiphany or Theophany.

Reading from the Scripture for Denho

Luke 3:7-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

John Preaches to the People

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 

And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”

11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 

16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people. 

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 

20 also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

John Baptizes Jesus

21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. 

22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Why Jesus was Baptized?

by Rev. Fr. K. K. John

The name Snanam: Sanskrit word. It does not convey the exactness of the original Mamodeeso or snanam. Snanam in Sanskrit means, Thechukuli: “Na Snanam Na vilepanam.”

There are two snanams:

1 Baptism of John:

Baptism of John is known as Baptism of repentance, Mt 3:2, Mk 1:4. This was for remission of sins. It was symbolic because, Kumran Manual of discipline says, ‘Mere ablution cannot cleanse but submission of soul to God’s ordinances.’ However it pointed towards Christ.

Jesus was sinless by birth and by deeds and hence repentance baptism was not required.

2 Christian Baptism:

Christian Baptism was instituted after resurrection. This is also called Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is done in the name of Trinity; Father, Son, H Spirit.

Being one in the Trinity, Jesus had no need to undergo that, which is done in the name of Trinity. “Na kuriyal nishphalam karma” that is: no work without purpose.

Then why he went in for baptizing? There are four reasons:

1. Christ’s Baptism was to reveal Himself as Son of God to Israel. Until then he led a private life.

2. The only purpose of John’s baptism was to publicly testify Jesus as Christ, the anointed, before commencement of public ministry. He came to bear witness to light, Jn 1:8. “I did not know him, but that he should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water, 1:31. He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the spirit descending and remaining on him this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God,” v 33-34.

3. To fulfill righteousness, “Adyacharyathwam kaikondaharon…Yohannan karthavinnum….

Mat 3:14-15 sheds light as to why Jesus subjected himself to baptism.

When Jesus came to be baptized, John tried to prevent him saying, “I need to be baptized by you and now are you coming to me? But Jesus said to him. Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Then he allowed him.

What righteousness is that Jesus talked about? Righteousness is nonnegotiable attribute of God. God cannot do anything repugnant to His own quality. He does not abrogate what he already laid down. Thus God is said as unchangeable, “Same yesterday, today and forever” Heb 13:8.

1 God gave laws through Moses. After Moses’ death God did not give new law but affirmed it to Joshua: Josh 1:7, “Be strong and very courageous to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right or to the left.”

2 Lazarus and the wealthy: Abraham says, people have to obey the laws of Moses, Luke 16:29.

God gave Priesthood to Moses, Aaron and to his sons forever, Ex 28, v1, 41, 29:442. It was imperative that righteous God not violate rather fulfill the conditions of the law, which He had laid. Thus the priesthood once given to the Levite tribe had to be taken back through and by a Levite only. John bequeathed priesthood according to Levite tribe.

Law required 20 years of age for army service Num 1:3 and 30 years to initiate temple services, Numbers, 4:2. Remember, Jesus was 30 years when he went into Jordan, the age according to law to initiate temple service. What happened here was shifting/transfer of Levite priesthood, which was only for Israelites and became redundant, passed into eternal priesthood through Jesus Christ, which was then given to all humanity through Apostles.

4. by entering into the waters of Jordan God purified the whole element of water, which suffered defilement by the fall of man and reverted it to the original status, says Gregory of Nazianzes.

29 December 2019

posted 28 Dec 2019, 08:20 by C S Paul

29 December 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

First Sunday after Yeldo (Christmas)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Luke 2:40-52 New King James Version (NKJV)

40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.The Boy Jesus Amazes the Scholars

41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 

42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 

43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 

44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 

45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 

46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 

47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 

48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 

50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

Jesus Advances in Wisdom and Favor

51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The perfection of Jesus Christ in every age

by HG Mathews Mar Barnabas Metropolitan

The perfection of Jesus Christ in every age

We find the perfection of Jesus Christ for His age at the age of twelve. This is a lesson for us to be perfect in every age.

Every Jew was expected to obey all the commandments of God and accordingly he had to attend the festival of Passover. Walking two days’ journey Jesus went from Nazareth to Jerusalem, along with His mother Mary and other relatives. After the festival, they all returned to Nazareth. But the child Jesus stayed on, as a result of His intimate piety. He was attracted by worship and the opportunity to learn in the temple. As Jesus was found missing, St. Mary had to go back to Jerusalem in search of Him. He gave the right answer why He continued in the temple. The temple was the house of God and it was His duty to be there. Are we the followers of Christ attracted by the worship and Bible study? To be perfect we have to follow the example of our Lord from early age.

Jesus Christ made the better choice to be in the temple of God. But when St. Mary His mother wanted Him to follow her to Nazareth, He simply obeyed without any argument. Do we obey our dear ones without any questions and arguments?

Jesus continued in a life of obedience to the heavenly Father all His life. He was obedient unto his death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). This obedience was just the opposite of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

Let us abide in Jesus Christ and become as obedient as He was and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

22 December 2019

posted 20 Dec 2019, 21:58 by C S Paul

22 December 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Sunday before Christmas

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Matthew 1:1-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 

Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 

Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 

Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 

and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. 

Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. 

Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. 

Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. 

10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. 

11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. 

13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. 

14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. 

15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. 

16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Is there any criteria to be saved?

by Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose

The name of Jesus means "Salvation" and Christ means "Anointed".

Jesus is the Lord for all. Salvation is by the anointment of the Holy Spirit. This is an all inclusive reality and non-exclusive experience. These 17 verses include 46 characters spanning over 2000 years. This genealogy includes all kinds of heroes like Abraham and David, then shady characters and alien people like Tamar, Ruth, Rehab, and Bathsheba, non-entity human beings like Herzon, Ram, Nahshon and Akim, and evils like Manesaha and Abijah…………….. And ended with Jesus, the one who saves and who is anointed - Jesus Christ.

Whoever calls His name, will be saved. Whoever needs salvation 24/7/365 days, Jesus is standing there to save you. This salvation is not for a chosen few, but for all. The angels announced to the shepherds that the birth of the babe is a joy for all (to the World). Isaiah prophesied that God will anoint and send His Spirit to all the people.

Are we keeping this salvation and anointment away from the millions of people who are in dire need in the name of economic status, racial superiority, ethnic differences, nationality, shady characters, intellectual differences and denominational divisions? We want compassion, love, goodness and non-defilement of the soul. We need saviours who can risk their lives and save those who are in the dangerous zone of sin, poverty, war, hunger and thirst.

Oscar Schindler was a Catholic who had out-witted Hitler and the Nazis to save the Jews from gas chambers in Auschwitz, Poland, in World War II. He rose to the highest level of humanity, walked through the bloody mud of the holocaust with great compassion and respect for human life, and gave the Jews a second chance to live. Earlier, he was a man full of flaws like the rest of us - the unlikeliest of all role models who started out by earning millions as a war profiteer and finally ended up risking his life and spending all his money to save the Jews. He saved 1200 Jews by employing them in his war factory under the pretext of supplying war items to SS. He spent millions to protect and save the Jews, and died as a poor man. But he earned the everlasting gratitude of the world.

Never forget the words of Martin in his speech delivered on January 6th, 1946, before the representatives of the confessing Churches in Frankfurt, West Germany - "They came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew, then they came for the trade unionist and I didn't still speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time, there was no one left to speak up for me." These are words that challenge us to the core. We need a savior. Could you be the one?

Be a saviour by the anointment of Jesus to your parents, friends and neighbours. Jesus Christ, help us save this sinking world filled with sins of genocide and non-care. Look around, there are teeming millions who are dying without a life boat. Be a life boat to all those who are in need.

Untitled Post

posted 13 Dec 2019, 21:39 by C S Paul

15 December 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Revelation to St. Joseph

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Matthew 1:18-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

Christ Born of Mary

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 

20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 

21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 

23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Dream of Joseph, the Carpenter

by Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose

"Revelation to Joseph the Carpenter" (Matthew: 1:18-25)

"An angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife." (Matt: 1:20)

Do you have any shattered dreams?

Dream is the base and inspiration for action. Life becomes lifeless without dreams and revelations. Everyone should have a dream in his/her life. In the Old Testament all our Patriarchs like Joseph, Jacob, Daniel had the dreams and visions and they acted for the achievement of it and they fulfilled their dreams. In the New Testament, the growth and development of Christianity, is fully rooted in dreams, and its actions, being taken by the disciples of Jesus like Paul, Jacob, Stephen, Peter, and Thomas

Joseph, the upright, took ridicule and shame. He was ready to face the excommunication and marginalization from his relatives, friends and the church to heed and implement the dreams he had. "Joseph took Mary as his wife." (Matt: 1:24). Mary and child were protected and insulated by Joseph from the predators and wrong finders. So Joseph, the carpenter, was called as the father of Jesus. And the Christian world respects and venerates him as a saint. The people want to emulate his upright character and saga of his journey to fulfill the dreams he had.

Dreams won’t withdraw by its own without fulfilling the goal. Generations and generations of slaves in Africa and other continents had the dreams of freedom from slavery that was first fulfilled in UK through the work of people like William Wilberforce and gradually from all over the world. Marin Luther King "Had a dream" of equality and rule of an African American in USA. It was fulfilled when Barack Obama became the President of USA in 2008.

The young bright Susan had a dream and a wish to become a doctor. But she has landed in a marriage with a degree in biology. The couple got a son who studied well and got admission in a medical college. Susan didn’t rest or lost her dream to become a doctor. She also prepared for the medical entrance test with her son and got admission in the same medical college where her son got it. Both, the son and mother studied in the same medical college and both passed with high marks. Now she is practicing as a gynecologist fulfilling her dream to become a doctor. Her son is working in Canada as a reputed cardiac surgeon.

So don’t put our dreams and wishes in cold storage or in our closets; instead take it outside, warm it, dust it and keep it in the boiling point. Our ultimate dream is to resurrect and to live in the ecstasy of heaven.

Nasruddin was fast asleep at 9 in the morning. His wife woke him up from his sleep. "The sun has risen in the sky," she said, "the birds are singing in the trees and your breakfast is getting cold." "Breakfast be damned. I was about to sign a contract worth a million grams of gold," he said. He closed his eyes and tried to recapture his shattered dream of gold. In the dream, when interrupted, he was cheating in that contract and his business partner was a tyrant. If, on recapturing the dream, he stops his cheating, he will become a saint. If he struggles to free the people from the oppression of the tyrant, he will become a freedom fighter. If, in the middle of it all, he suddenly realizes he is dreaming, he will become awakened. Enlightened.re you still asleep? Arise and shine. As Joseph got up from the dream and "took Mary as his wife." (Mathew 1:24)

8 December 2019

posted 6 Dec 2019, 21:35 by C S Paul

8 December 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Birth of John the Baptist (Children's day)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

EveningMorningBefore Holy QurbanaHoly Qurbana

Luke 1:57-80 New King James Version (NKJV)

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 

58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Circumcision of John the Baptist

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 

60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 

62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 

64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 

65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 

66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zacharias’ Prophecy

67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 

74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

The Music of Christmas

by Mike Pohlman, Bellingham, WA

I love Christmas music. Of course, not all Christmas music is created equal. Each year I find myself migrating toward Christmas music that points me to the heart of the season. I love music that sings about God and his Christ—music that reminds me that there is a Redeemer, Jesus Christ God's own Son.

One of my favorite songs comes from the Gospel of Luke. Zachariah's prophecy is lyrical theology at its best. In this hymn of hope we are reminded of what is most profound about Christmas.

Of course, Zachariah wasn't always singing. For a time he was mute because he doubted the promise of God to provide for him and Elizabeth a son—the one who would "turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God" (Luke 1:16). But once John was born Zachariah got his voice back and the first thing he did was offer praise to God for providing salvation: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people …" (Luke 1:68).

Zachariah's Song is made up of two long sentences with the first praising God for providing salvation (Luke 1:68-75) and the second summarizing the role of his son as the one who would prepare the way for the Lord (Luke 1:76-79).

Zachariah could not help but sing over the fulfillment of God's promise of salvation in a coming Redeemer. In a burst of exultation, Zachariah announces that God has "raised up a horn of salvation" in keeping with the words "he spoke by the mouth of the prophets from of old" (Luke 1:69-70). Indeed, all the promises of God find their "Yes" in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20).

Not only is Zachariah's prophecy intended to show us the faithfulness of God, but also his mercy. This salvation is according to the "tender mercy of our God" (Luke 1:78). Even as Zachariah is summarizing the role his son John would play in preparing the way for the Lord, he cannot take his focus off God and the absolute mercy it is that he would provide a Savior. For Zachariah the purpose of the birth of Jesus Christ is to display the mercy of God (Luke 1:72). And what a mercy it is that sinners like us can find forgiveness of our sins and, in Christ, serve God "without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days" (Luke 1:74-75).

And we must not miss the beautiful imagery Zachariah uses in predicting the coming of Christ into the world. He relates the appearing of our salvation to a majestic "sunrise … from on high" (Luke 1:78). The purpose of light is to banish darkness and this is exactly what Jesus, the Light of the world, does. As Zachariah sings, Jesus will "give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:79).

Oh how our hearts should break this Christmas for loved ones that remain in the "shadow of death." Apart from Christ we "walk in gloom" (Isa. 59:9) and hate the light (John 3:20). We duck and hide and position ourselves in every way imaginable trying, in vain, to avoid the One with whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13). Our sin is so all-consuming that the apostle can simply call us "darkness" (Eph. 5:8). And tragically this Christmas people dear to us are replaying in their hearts Mozart's "Requiem" instead of Zachariah's hymn of hope.

But this Christmas can be different.

The Gospel is the good news that there is a way for sinners to come out of the shadow of death and enter into God's "marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). Jesus promises his followers that they "will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). This is the truth that put songs in the heart of Elizabeth, Mary, Zachariah, and Simeon. This is the news that infuriated Herod, brought Magi from the east and caused the angels to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Peace. Heavenly peace. This is how Zachariah concludes his song. The salvation of the Lord will "guide our feet into the way of peace." Of course, this is no ordinary peace. This is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). This is the peace of Christ and received by faith.

Unfortunately I don't think we will see Zachariah's hymn as a "Top Song" at iTunes any time soon. However, this is a song infinitely more valuable than anything we will ever see featured there and a song worth singing not just this Christmas, but for all eternity.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update. Mike Pohlman is lead pastor of Immanuel Bible Church in Bellingham, WA. (From Malankara World)

1 December 2019

posted 30 Nov 2019, 03:34 by C S Paul

1 December 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

St. Mary's visit to Elizabeth (Womens' day)

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Luke 1:39-56 New King James Version (NKJV)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 

40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 

41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 

43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 

44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 

45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

The Song of Mary

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Elizabeth - a Spiritual Guardian and Protector of Mary

by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil

Mary had just been visited earlier by the angel Gabriel and was told that she would bear a son, Jesus, who will be "great and called the son of the most high and heir to the ancient throne of David." Mary was told that the Holy Spirit will conceive in her the child Jesus. And Mary replied, "I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said."

Mary was first confused. The only person she knew who would understand her was Elizabeth. The angel had told Mary that her relative Elizabeth is going to have a child in her old age and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.

So, Mary prepared for a trip to see Elizabeth. She needed guidance for this unique experience. Mary seeks out Zachariah's home and was received by her cousin Elizabeth. It is likely that Mary had visited there before. Elizabeth, now six months pregnant, comes to the door and greets Mary. Elizabeth hadn't expected her, but now Mary greets her.

The greetings Mary brings to Elizabeth had an effect so powerful that Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greetings, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leaped and responded to the presence of the Messiah inside of Mary. Elizabeth said, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

Mary breaks out a Holy Spirit inspired response. She praised the Lord for the awesome blessing on her. She sang, "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoice in God my Savior, for he as been mindful of the humble state of this servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, for the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)

Mary contrasts her "humble state" as a servant with God's greatness. She refers to him as the mighty one. And she concludes by affirming God's greatness.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then returned home.

Mary was an encouragement to Elizabeth. God had planned it for Mary's benefit. She would have been otherwise subjected to cruel slander and shame back home. She would have been misunderstood and rejected. Here at Elizabeth's home, she was loved and accepted.

Elizabeth had asked, "Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" God must have provided Elizabeth to Mary as a spiritual guardian who would nurture and protect her. Elizabeth was Mary's friend and confidant. Mary was a blessed woman because the Lord was with her. God gave Elizabeth to Mary for a purpose.

All of us will be blessed if we let God dwell in us. God may have plans for this type roles for us. God must have already chosen someone who can help guide us in our life. Let's hope and pray that God will enable us to find "the Elizabeth" who can help in our life's journey. We need God's guidance in finding that person. Let's seek God's help in our pursuit.


24 November 2019

posted 22 Nov 2019, 21:30 by C S Paul

24 November 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Annunciation to St. Mary, Mother of God.

Reading from the Scripture for this Sunday

EveningMorningBefore Holy QurbanaHoly Qurbana

Luke 1:26-38 New King James Version (NKJV)

Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus

32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 

33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 

37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her

The Blessed Virgin Mary

by Rev. Andrew Eckert

The Blessed Virgin Mary leaves no doubt what she thinks of herself. She is given the greatest honor in history by becoming the Mother of God. Yet she does not call herself the Queen of heaven or some other boasting title.

No, Mary calls herself a slave of God, the Lord's servant. She is far below her Maker. She is unworthy of honor in herself. As a slave, she humbly accepts the will of her Master.

Mary recognizes that the honor she is given is purely by grace. Gabriel calls her highly favored, "full of grace." God's grace is not deserved, otherwise it would not be grace at all. By definition, grace is a gift. The very fact that she is called 'full of grace' means that Mary is a sinner. Nevertheless, God comes to give her this enormous blessing.

There is no thought in her mind that she has earned God's favor. If she had believed herself worthy, God would have passed her by and gone to some other virgin. But He did not. Mary was the one.

We may wonder why God sent Gabriel to this meek virgin from Nazareth. Gabriel, the mighty angel of God, was given the simple task of speaking the message of God to the lowly maiden.

At first, this seems demeaning to Gabriel, or a waste of his potential. All the holy angels are strong, and Gabriel is particularly powerful. He has abilities far beyond our understanding. Why use him as a mere messenger boy?

The angels do not look at things this way. By being this messenger, Gabriel becomes the carrier of the Word of God. What is more holy, more important, more glorious, than this Word? Through this Mighty Word, the Son of God takes flesh in Mary's womb. Gabriel becomes the messenger for one of the greatest events and deepest mysteries in all history: the Incarnation, God becoming Man.

It is not only Mary that is highly favored. Gabriel is greatly honored, also.

Today, God's messenger speaks to you. He is not a mighty, sinless angel, but a weak, sin-filled man. Yet to him is given the great honor of carrying God's message, by preaching the Word of grace.

You, like Mary, listen and ponder the message. If you think yourself worthy, then the grace will pass you by. You must think yourself a sinner, and think yourself undeserving, or else there is no grace for you.

But if you, like Mary, receive the Word with repentant humility, then how awesome is this Word! How mysterious and incredible! Would you not call yourself "slave," or any name, no matter how demeaning, just to receive this Word? Would you not endure any shame, any humiliation, just to listen to God's grace that honors even the lips of angels?

Truly, every hearer who listens to God's Word as Mary did receives Christ Himself. You become bearers of Christ. For the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and the Most High overshadows you, and the Lord Jesus is with you.

How can holy God dwell with man? He has done it by becoming Man. The eternal Deity took human flesh. The Godhead became a Man.

That is why we must confess that the Virgin is truly a virgin. Christ was not conceived by human flesh, but by God's Spirit. If there is no virgin, there is no salvation.

So we confess the Son of the Virgin, who shed God's Blood on the Cross. We confess the Son of God who died. We confess the immortal Lamb who rose from death, who sits at God's right hand, who rules now and for all eternity.

These are not mere doctrines. These are life and forgiveness. If Christ is not God, then we are still lost. If Christ is not born of a virgin, then our sins still accuse us, and we are dead, now and forever.

But He is truly born of the Virgin and truly both God and Man. Therefore, He is named Jesus, Savior of mankind, your Lord. There is no other name that saves.

I declare to you that Christ Jesus has brought you into His Kingdom. This is the Kingdom of His father David, the Kingdom promised by prophets from ancient times, the Kingdom built by the Blood of Christ. In Christ, you also are a son of David, in the royal family. Mary was a descendant of David by birth. You are one by Baptism and by adoption.

You are also restored to the honorable lineage of Eve, the first woman, and mother of us all. She was created as a holy and perfect woman, full of every beauty and glory in the image of God. No woman like Eve has ever lived. Yet Eve rebelled against God's Word by eating the fruit. She disbelieved the warning that she would die. Through Eve, death entered the world to afflict all mankind. She gave birth to sin and death, conceived in her by the deceiving word of the dark angel, satan.

But Mary gave birth to the sinless One, conceived in her by the Word of God carried by the holy angel Gabriel. Mary brought forth life for all mankind, since Christ Jesus is the Life. Mary listened and believed, and by her humble faith, received again the image of God in Christ.

We who listen and believe are like Mary. We are a beautiful woman, the Bride of Christ, prepared in splendor by the Lord who dwell in us.

Yet the presence of God in Mary was different than in us, and her honor greater. We are not rightly called the Mother of God. She is. The flesh of the Son of God lived in her womb for nine months. She shared her body, and sustained His life.

We come closest to Mary when we kneel at this communion rail. Here, the very Body and Blood of Christ enter us. We experience a true Communion like Mary's. We are one with Him, and He with us. We humble slaves of the Lord are honored by Him as He declares His great favor, and His over-flowing grace.

All glory to the Incarnate Christ, God-made-flesh. In His Holy Name. Amen.

17 November 2019

posted 15 Nov 2019, 05:43 by C S Paul

17 November 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Annunciation to Zachariah
This Sunday is commemorated as the day when John the Baptist's birth was announced to Zechariah by Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:1-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Dedication to Theophilus

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 

just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 

it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 

that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

John’s Birth Announced to Zacharias

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 

according to the custom of the priesthood,his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 

10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 

12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 

15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 

16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 

17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 

20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 

22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 

25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.

Annunciation to Zachariah - Devotional Thoughts

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Gospel Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 1: 5-25

The Holy Church has designated this Sunday as the Parents’ day. Let us remember our Parents and let us pray for them. Let the observation of this Sunday as Parents’ day be a reminder to the youngsters to be more caring and loving and dutiful to their parents.

In the first verse of today’s reading itself St. Luke is giving us a good description about a noble family, highlighting their nobility in ancestral heritage. In verse 6 we read, “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” All families on earth could accept this family as their role model. The modern men and women often try their best to get recognition from others that they are good and righteous. We have been taught and instructed to observe the Commandments of God as well as that of the Church. Are we particular in observing them in our practical lives? Let us examine ourselves. Our Lord summarized the Ten Commandments into two namely love God and love our fellowmen. Can anyone of us claim that he or she is particular in obeying these two simple commands? In the place of divine love, we find the heaps of selfishness and we all are slaves to the selfishness. Hence we move fast from God. And as a result the modern men and women are drowning themselves in the depths of sins.

As and when we might observe this Sunday, let us get aloof from the grip of selfishness and let us turn back to Lord God. Let us repent well and start loving our God and our brethren around us, irrespective of caste, creed, color and faith. And Priest Zechariah had the priest’s office before God in the order of his course and according to custom he had to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. (Verse 9) In verse 10 we read that whenever he went into the temple to burn the incense, “And the whole multitude of the people were praying.”

Our system of celebrants staying inside the curtains of the sanctuary and praying with incense, for Thooyobo (prayers of preparation) is based on this scriptural portion. When the Priest or the Metropolitan prays inside the curtain as a part of the preparations of the great sacrifice, how many of our faithful would be present in the Church? Many of us are late comers for the Holy Eucharist because we are not sure what is happening there during the time prior to the public celebration of the Holy Eucharist. We all are obliged to pray together for the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Holy mysteries as well as the participants, while we might chant the hymns or prayers. Our prayers as well the supplications of the celebrant have to reach the heaven together, so that God Almighty might get pleased in us.

While Priest Zechariah prayed the angel appeared and told him “thy prayer is heard.” We must be alert and keen to have such a message from our Lord God either through the angel or directly. In continuation of this the angel told him “and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shall call his name John.” Zechariah heard the second message: “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.” Why the angel said St. John the Baptist would be great in the sight of the Lord? In Genesis 12:2, we hear our Lord God’s voice: “And I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shall be a blessing.” Though the promise was directly to Abraham the great Patriarch, the promise got fulfilled in his great grand son, the forerunner of the Savior. St. John turned to be a blessing for the entire mankind and the creation. St. John could turn a number of children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Verse 15) St. John was always ahead of the Savior and redeemer of the entire mankind. St. John was able “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We all are supposed to be followers of St. John the Baptist, in introducing Christ our Lord as the Savior and Redeemer of the entire mankind. Let us pray earnestly to enable us to comply with our assignments.

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