November 20, 2011

posted 18 Nov 2011, 05:02 by C S Paul   [ updated 18 Nov 2011, 05:02 ]

November 20, 2011

 

SERMON OF THE WEEK 
                                        (Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V KurianThomas Valiyaparambil)

Provided by Mr. K. Kuriakose

This Sunday marks the celebration of the announcement by arch-angel Gabriel to St. Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, son of God. The gospel reading is from Luke 1: 26-38

Gospel Reading: The Birth of Jesus is Foretold (Luke 1:26-38)

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 

27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 

28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 

30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 

31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 

33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 

34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 

35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 

36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 

37 For nothing is impossible with God." 

38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

http://familyfeastandferia.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/annunciation-mid.jpg

Message:

Six months after the conception of John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth, a small town in the land of Galilee. Mary was a descendant of King David. She was engaged to Joseph who was also of the same royal line of decent. Although engaged, she had not entered the household of Joseph. She was still living at her parent's home.

One day, God's messenger arch-angel Gabriel came to her house and said: "Greetings to you, favored one. The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will give birth to a son."

How could this happen to me since I am a virgin?" Mary asked the angel. The angel said to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Mary was a woman of unwavering faith in God. She replied, "Yes, Lord, I will do it." She accepted the challenge without thinking the rumors and stares that would follow her for the next 30 years. She knew the cost, but was willing to pay the price. Mary's heart was completely devoted to him and that's why God chose her for the birth of his son in her.

In the eyes of God, Mary was the right person to take the task of raising God's son. Her life and character helped her to raise the most influential man in human history. Mary played a key role in preparing Jesus for his ministry in his later life.

     Some qualities distinguished her from others at the time were:

1. Mother of Humility: Mother Mary who among the humble was the most humble no one could surpass in humility. Her husband Joseph permitted her to exercise her humility and both enabled to make their will to God by exercising the deepest humility and obedience in all her acts. Mary's song in verses 46-47 reads, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he as been mindful of the most humble state of this servant."

2. Mother of Obedience: Following Gabriel's announcement, Mary had a simple inquiry. "How shall this be without knowing a man?". The angel answered, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." From this messenger she learned that she was going to be mother of the son of God.

After receiving the message from the anger, Mary in unreserved obedience replied, "Be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38) In humbly accepting angels words, Mary exemplified the quality of obedience.

3. Mother of Devotion: Mary was a mother of great devotion. Whereas Mary was engaged to Joseph, the Angel appeared to her and said she will conceive in her womb and bear a son. There Mary said, "May it be doe to me according to your word." Mary had the unwavering devotion to God. There was no hesitation in her mind. God knew that she was completely devoted to Him and also would be devoted to the task of raising the young messiah.

4. Mother of Strength: Mary was a mother of strength. When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and asked him to take his wife and child to Egypt, it took a lot of physical strength for a woman to make a trip like that to a country far removed from her family and relatives. Her emotional strength motivated her to leave because someone wanted to kill her baby. It happened because she was a person of great physical and emotional strength.

5.Mother of Guidance: At the wedding in Cana, when the wine ran out, Mary approached Jesus knowing that he would resolve the issue. Jesus was re reluctant to get involved. Mary then properly guided Jesus by saying, "May be it is not time for you to die, but it is time for people begin to understand who you are." Mary pushed him in the right direction. She had the unique gift of guiding Jesus until God's purpose was realized.

6. Mother of Patience: Mary was devoted to God. She had great strength. She guided Jesus into his ministry. She also had great patience. Her devotion, strength and guidance had helped her become a women of great patience in seeing the mission of Jesus is finished on the cross

Conclusion: Mary's heart was pierced many times because of her love for her son. When she had to flee to Egypt because King Herod sought her son's life, and when at the age of 12, she frantically looked for Jesus for 3 days not knowing where he was, and when Jesus'own family had rejected him later in life and didn't want anything to do with him, must have all these caused her to suffer a great deal. Also on that dark Friday, Mary watched his son beaten up, stripped, mocked, and killed, and she was there to feel her heart was being pierced into so severely.

From Mary's experience, we may also learn that our own devotion to our children may not be an easy path either. The road could become mighty hazardous and difficult. We could have our heart also pierced by the things that can happen to our children when they are hurt, when they are sick, when they are betrayed, or may even they die, our hearts will be pierced. They may live a life that goes against all that we believe in and hold dear, or even may reject us. If that happens, our hearts will be pierced very severely.

Like Mary, let our love and devotion to our children be unwavering. Let's hope and pray that God will look after us with the same fervor as he looked upon Mary. If we have the proper perspective, a solid foundation in God the creator, and an unrelenting love and devotion to our children, God will take care of the rest for us.

 

                                           Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ 

Author: Lew Wallace

PART ONE

Biblical references: Matt. 2:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

Three Magi have come from the East. One, Balthasar, sets up a tent in the desert. Melchior, a Hindu, and Gaspar from Athens join him and as the three men each tell their stories and they realize they have been brought together by their common goal. As they prepare for the journey to come, they see a bright star shining over the region, and they take it as a sign that they are to leave. They follow the star through the desert towards the province of Judaea.

At the Joppa Gate in Jerusalem Mary and Joseph are traveling through on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They stop at the inn at the entrance to the city but there is no room. Mary is pregnant and, as labor begins, they head to a cave on a hillside behind the inn and here Jesus is born.

In the pasturelands outside the city, a group of seven shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks. Angels from heaven announce the Christ's birth. The shepherds hurry towards the city. They are rebuked by one of the men supervising the khan but nevertheless, inspired by the angels' message, they enter the caves on the hillside and worship Christ.

They spread the news of the Christ's birth and many come to see him. The Magi arrive in Jerusalem and inquire for news of the Christ. Herod the Great is angry to hear of another king challenging his rule and asks the Sanhedrin to find information for him. The Sanhedrin brings out a prophecy, written by Micah, telling of a ruler to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah, interpreting it to signify the Christ's birthplace.

PART ONECHAPTER XI

A mile and a half, it may be two miles, southeast of Bethlehem, there is a plain separated from the town by an intervening swell of the mountain. Besides being well sheltered from the north winds, the vale was covered with a growth of sycamore, dwarf-oak, and pine trees, while in the glens and ravines adjoining there were thickets of olive and mulberry; all at this season of the year invaluable for the support of sheep, goats, and cattle, of which the wandering flocks consisted.

At the side farthest from the town, close under a bluff, there was an extensive marah, or sheepcot, ages old. In some long-forgotten foray, the building had been unroofed and almost demolished.

The enclosure attached to it remained intact, however, and that was of more importance to the shepherds who drove  their charges thither than the house itself. The stone wall around the lot was high as a man's head, yet not so high but that sometimes a panther or a lion, hungering from the wilderness, leaped boldly in. 

On the inner side of the wall, and as an additional security against the constant danger, a hedge of the rhamnus had been planted, an invention so successful that now a sparrow could hardly penetrate the overtopping branches, armed as they were with great clusters of thorns hard as spikes.

The day of the occurrences which occupy the preceding chapters, a number of shepherds, seeking fresh walks for  their flocks, led them up to this plain; and from early morning the groves had been made ring with calls, and the blows of axes, the bleating of sheep and goats, the tinkling of bells, the lowing of cattle, and the barking of dogs. 

When the sun went down, they led the way to the marah, and by nightfall had everything safe in the field; then they kindled a fire down by the gate, partook of their humble supper, and sat down to rest and talk, leaving one on watch.

There were six of these men, omitting the watchman; and after while they assembled in a group near the fire, some sitting, some lying prone. As they went bareheaded habitually, their hair stood out in thick, coarse, sunburnt shocks; their beard covered their throats, and fell in mats down the breast; mantles of the skin of kids and lambs, with the fleece on, wrapped them from neck to knee, leaving the arms exposed; broad belts girthed the rude garments to their waists; their sandals were of the coarsest quality; from their right shoulders hung scrips containing food and selected stones for slings, with which they were armed; on the ground near each one lay his crook, a symbol of his calling and a weapon of offence.

Such were the shepherds of Judea! In appearance, rough and savage as the gaunt dogs sitting with them around the blaze; in fact, simple-minded, tender-hearted; effects due, in part, to the primitive life they led, but chiefly to their  constant care of things lovable and helpless.

They rested and talked, and their talk was all about their flocks, a dull theme to the world, yet a theme which was all the world to them. If in narrative they dwelt long upon affairs of trifling moment; if one of them omitted nothing of detail in recounting the loss of a lamb, the relation between him and the unfortunate should be remembered: at birth it became his charge, his to keep all its days, to help over the floods, to carry down the hollows, to name and train; it was to be his companion, his object of thought and interest, the subject of his will; it was to enliven and share his wanderings; in its defense he might be called on to face the lion or robber--to die.

The great events, such as blotted out nations and changed the mastery of the world, were trifles to them, if perchance they came to their knowledge. Of what Herod was doing in this city or that, building palaces and gymnasia, and indulging forbidden practises, they occasionally heard. As was her habit in those days, Rome did not wait for people slow to inquire about her; she came to them.

Over the hills along which he was leading his lagging herd, or in the fastnesses in which he was hiding them, not unfrequently the shepherd was startled by the blare of trumpets, and, peering out, beheld a cohort, sometimes a legion, in march; and when the glittering crests were gone, and the excitement incident to the intrusion over, he bent  himself to evolve the meaning of the eagles and gilded globes of the soldiery, and the charm of a life so the opposite of his own.

Yet these men, rude and simple as they were, had a knowledge and a wisdom of their own. On Sabbaths they were accustomed to purify themselves, and go up into the synagogues, and sit on the benches farthest from the ark. When the chazzan bore the Torah round, none kissed it with greater zest; when the sheliach read the text, none listened to the interpreter with more absolute faith; and none took away with them more of the elder's sermon, or gave it more thought  afterwards. In a verse of the Shema they found all the learning and all the law of their simple lives--that their Lord was One God, and that they must love him with all their souls. And they loved him, and such was their wisdom, surpassing that of kings.

 (to be continued)

 

The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 3 continued

The facts suggested by this incident are that such healings do take place and that a gradual accumulation of psychological factors can cut off the flow of energy. The further fact is stressed that these same factors are susceptible to the power of faith to energy within an individual.

The effect of guilt and fear feelings on energy is widely recognized by all authorities having to do with the problems of human nature. The quantity of vital force required to give the personality relief from either guilt or fear or a combination of each is so great that often only a fraction of energy remains for the discharge of the functions of living.

Energy drainage occasioned by fear and guilt is of such an amount as to leave little power to be applied to a person's job. The result is that he tires quickly. Not being able to meet the full requirements of his responsibility, he retreats into an apathetic, dull, listless condition and is indeed even ready to give up and fall back sleepily in a state of enervation.

A businessman was referred to me by a psychiatrist whom the patient had been consulting. It appeared that the patient, generally regarded as quite morally strict and upright, had become involved with a married woman. He had attempted to break off this relationship but was encountering resistance from his partner in infidelity, although he had  earnestly besought her to abandon their practice and allow him to return to his former state of respectability.

She had threatened him with the possibility that she might enlighten her husband concerning these escapades if he insisted in his desire to cease the relationship. The patient recognized the fact that if the husband became apprised of the situation, it would result in disgrace for him in his community. He happened to be a prominent citizen and prized his high standing.

As a result of his fear of exposure and a sense of guilt he had been unable to sleep or rest. And since this had gone on for two or three months he was in a very serious slump in energy and did not possess the vitality to perform his job efficiently.

Inasmuch as some important matters were pending, the situation was serious. When the psychiatrist suggested that he see me, a clergyman, because of his inability to sleep, he remonstrated by saying there was no way in which a clergyman could correct the condition which caused his sleeplessness, but, on the contrary, he felt that a medical doctor might supply effective medication.

When he stated his attitude to me I simply asked him how he expected to sleep when he had two very annoying and unpleasant bedfellows with whom he was attempting to sleep.

"Bedfellows?" he asked in surprise. "I have no bedfellows."

"Oh, yes, you have," I said, "and there is nobody in this world who can sleep with those two, one on either side."

"What do you mean?" he asked.

I said, "You are trying to sleep every night between fear on one side and guilt on the other, and you are attempting an impossible feat. It makes no difference how many sleeping pills you take, and you admit you have taken many such pills, but they have had no effect upon you. The reason they do not affect you is that they cannot reach the deeper  levels of your mind where this sleeplessness originates and which is siphoning off your energy. You must eradicate fear and guilt before you will ever be able to sleep and regain your strength."

We dealt with the fear which was of exposure by the simple expedient of getting him ready in mind to face whatever might ensue as a result of doing the right thing, which was of course to break off the relationship regardless of consequences. I assured him that whatever he did that was right would turn out right. One never does wrong by doing right. I urged him to put the matter in God's hands and simply do the right thing, leaving the outcome to God.

He did that, not without trepidation, but with considerable sincerity just the same. The woman, either through shrewdness or some expression of her own better nature or through the more doubtful expedient of transferring her affections elsewhere, released him.

 (To be continued) 


Laughter the Best Medicine

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF HUMOR AND LAUGHTER

Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall  sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.   

Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in on the fun.

 

Story of the week

The Gift

The Graduation Gift Story

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him.

He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man's name embossed in gold.

Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?"

And stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful  family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go visit him.

He had not seen him since that graduation day.

Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away,

and willed all of his possessions to his son.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart.

He began to search through his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago.

With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible.

 It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...

PAID IN FULL

How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?

 (Author Unknown)

 

Did You Know ?

  • It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the "honeymoon".
  • Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil?
  • If you were to spell out numbers, you will have to go until One thousand tillyou would find the letter "A"?
  • Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades - King David

Hearts - Charlemagne

Clubs -Alexander, the Great

Diamonds - Julius Caesar

  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • Men can read smaller print then women can; women can hear better.
  • It is impossible to lick your elbow.

 

Just for Laughs

Ministers and Lawyers

A minister and lawyer were chatting at a party.

"What do you do if you make a mistake on a case?" the minister asked.

"Try to fix it if it's big; ignore it if it's insignificant," replied the lawyer. "What do you do?"

The minister replied, "Oh, more or less the same. Let me give you an example. The other day I meant to say 'the devil is the father of liars,' but instead I said 'the devil is the father of lawyers,' so I let it go."

 

 

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