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FOCUS April 2018 Vol. 6 No: 2

Prayer: Elixir of the Soul, Acharya


Sachidananda Bharathi, Ernakulam – Page 17

Cover Photo: Prayer (Source


Internet)
A Publication of Diaspora FOCUS

Aspects of the Prayer Movement in India, A


Personal Account, Dr. M. A. Raju, India – Page 18

Editorial, A Life of Prayer-Underneath is the


Everlasting Arms, Rev. Dr. M. J. Joseph, Kottayam - Page 3

Urslem Yaatra Vivranam: An Alternate


Reading, Rev. Dr. Valson Thampu, Trivandrum – Page 20

Lord Teach us to Pray, Revd Dr. Valson


Thampu, Trivandrum – Page 6

A Blue Print of Lord’s Prayer, Rev. Dr. M. J.


Joseph, Kottayam – Page 24
The Power of Prayer, David Brand, Harrow
Weald, – Page 10

The Liturgy of St. James and Its Importance Church – A Praying Community, Rev. Dr.
in the Christendom, Rev. Jameson Pallikunnil – Page 12 Abraham Athyal, Kerala - Page 25

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heaven.” “It takes the humankind into the depths of
EDITORIAL mind for a glimpse of the ultimate.” The Church is thus
called upon to continue its priestly, prophetic and
A Life of Prayer-Underneath is the Everlasting Arms kingly ministry and to bear witness to the presence of
the Kingdom-justice of God - in God’s world through
It is not possible to define prayer as it is a deep prayer, meditation and other spiritual exercises. A
awareness of the Divine in our DAILY LIFE of Bible study included in the present issue takes care of
happiness and sufferings. “A prayer-centred life” is this radical concern of the Church.
the longing of the heart for divine intervention in life as
illustrated in the Philokalia, the age-old classic book The rule of God is the restoration of justice in human
of meditations. So also the same is found in the book, heart across any divide and a call from the beyond to
Prayers of life, by Michel Quoist (1963). This is true in build up the quality of life for all. The purpose is to
several prayers of world religions as found in the book have the visibility of “the full stature of Christ”
under the title Temple Bells compiled by Bishop (Eph.4:13) in God’s one world. For this, giving thanks
Appasamy of India. to God is the first step. Ps.139:7-10 and Ps.136:1-9
urges us to shout with joy along with the Psalmist in
Life is meant to be lived for others so as to find 100:5, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love
ourselves in the pilgrimage of life. In the words of Abbe endures forever, and his faithfulness to all
Quoist, “. . . it is not falling that is the worst; but generations.” The Great hymn, “Great is Thy
staying on the ground.” A prayer from the cave of the Faithfulness God my father” is indeed an affirmation
heart will help us to get up with the power from above. of life. The hymn, which Mahatma Gandhi liked to sing,
Genuine prayer is meant for the transformation of life “Lead Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom” is
and it brings to our mind quite a few life-centered indeed a prayer song to keep our feet strong in the
questions such as whether the Divine has heard me, pilgrimage of life. Our prayers whether liturgical or
and whether I have made a resolution to become otherwise should enable us to bow our knees before
“eyes to the blind and feet to the lame; a father to the the creator. The cosmic Christ thus becomes the
needy and championed the cause of the stranger and centre of gravity and any genuine prayer addressed in
broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made them the name of God/Christ becomes Theo-centric. The
drop their prey from their teeth” (Job.29:15-17). To put legacy of the Eastern Eucharistic liturgy is its Theo-
it in a nutshell, genuine prayer is to prepare ourselves centric moorings. This is well stated in the Eucharistic
individually and collectively “for doing God’s will on prayer of St. James Liturgy where we pray after the
earth” as we find it in the Lord’s Prayer. The will of God First Blessing, “. . . who is adored by the heavenly
is to be fulfilled “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt.6:9- host; Sun and moon and all the stars; the earth and
10). The will of the Father, the Creator parent, is to seas and all that dwell there; Angels and archangels,
establish His Kingdom in God’s world. This is well thrones and powers, Cherubim and Seraphim..., ever
stated in the Notre Pere and it makes the prayer proclaiming, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God
universal. For everyone doing the will of God is “good Almighty.” The Trinitarian blessings in the liturgy
and acceptable” (Rom.12:1) because the availability of confirm this. (See A Diary of Private Prayer, 1980 by
the power from above is always a divine possibility John Baillie)
through our utterance of Kyrie eleison. In Heb.4:16, we
have the divine assurance to draw near to the throne of The theme of the 9th and the 10th Assemblies of the
grace through prayer and supplication so that we may WCC (“God in your grace, transform the world” and
receive mercy and find grace in time of need. This is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” respectively)
well stated in Jer.29:11-13. make a universal cry of the Spirit of Christ for the
establishment of God’s will on earth. The message of
It has been widely held by scientific research on the Assemblies was a plea for doing God’s will on
meditation that brain circuits important for the earth. What happens on earth pleases God in the
regulation of attention and emotion can be altered by heaven. The Ecumenical vision in the Lord’s Prayer
meditation practice (Richard Davidson, Professor of addressed to God as “Our Father” is indeed a
Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, universal celebration of “one life” in God’s world. The
Madison). Meditation is a form of prayer and it makes a theme chosen for the Week of Prayer-2018, “your right
lament for a divine response when the heart utters, hand Lord, glorious in power” elaborates this. The
“lord, it is dark; Lord, are you here in my Lord’s Prayer carries its ecumenical and ecological
darkness!”(Quoist). “It takes one to the innermost overtones as it is concerned with the whole
recess of interior centre as well as to the heights of Oikoumene. In all humility, I would like to make a

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reference to my book Aroma of Christ which has been the grace of Thy Holy Spirit.” This is indeed a prayer of
translated into German under the title, Geben Und Serenity. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the
Emphangen (1978). This is a book of poetic things I cannot change; courage to change the things I
meditations and prayers I wrote during my brief can and the wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold
sojourn in Israel during 1973-1975. In its preface, Prof. Niebuhr). A man of prayer should be a man of action in
Dr. J. J. Von Allmen (Switzerland), former rector of the true spirit of wisdom. (cf. 1 King.17)
Ecumenical Institute, Tantur, Jerusalem wrote: “…M.
J. Joseph’s meditations will ask any of its readers a
very deep and important question: - whatever their
reactions to the poems may be – are you also
profoundly enamored by the joy of the Gospel that you
too cannot think of anything which would not be
allusive to Jesus Christ and the Mystery of Salvation in
and through Him.” Thus in Christian prayer, there is a
twin blending of the horizontal and vertical dimensions
of life as we read in the classic prayer of Saint Francis
of Assisi. To quote, “Lord, make me an instrument of
Thy peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love;
there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness,
light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine master, . . .
it is in giving that we get; it is in pardoning that we are
pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal
Life”. Yes, when we love one another (truly a form of
prayer), our Father is acting within us”(See Simply
Surrender by Therese of Lisieux). The article” A
prayer-centered life” takes care of this point further.
We should remember that our Father does not inspire
us to do what cannot be done. All through the day, we
need to ask humbly to our Father to instruct us in the
secrets of His love. (see Prayers with Bible Readings
for Forty Mornings and Evenings, by William Barclay)

This is probably what St. Paul speaks about praying


without ceasing. God’s mercy is our strength. We
humans must remember as St. Augustine reminds us:
“Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” The
prayer life of Brother Lawrence is also a reminder to In an age of “Prayers for sale”, we need to remind
us. The deep longing of the heart is well stated in the ourselves about the teaching of Jesus concerning
Upanishad chant “Lead me from unreal to real; from prayer as we find in St. Matt. 6: 5-7. No doubt, we
darkness to life and from death to immortality.” The simply carry much extra-luggage in our corporate and
Divine acceptance of the prayer offered in the purity of individual worship services. Our loud recital of liturgical
heart is well sated in the Bhagavad Gita IX, vs.26: prayers and singing of songs from the worshipping
“Whosoever shall offer me a leaf, a flower, a fruit and places have become sources for noise pollution. It is
water in the spirit of devotion and purity of mind, that indeed sad that there is no serious attempt to curb this
offering, I accept.” In the prayer of Das Hammarskjold trend. Noise pollution is an ecological sin. In Christian
– “Give us a pure heart that we may see Thee, a prayer, whether corporate or individual, God’s gift of
humble heart that we may hear Thee, a heart of love new humanity in Christ should be affirmed. This is well
that we may serve Thee, a heart of faith that we may stated in a WCC prayer which is quoted below:
live Thee.” – One may notice a daily enactment of “Almighty God, as your son was born in a Hebrew
divine love. The noble words of Jesus in Matt.5:8 – mother, but rejoiced in the faith of a Roman soldier,
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” welcomed Greeks who sought him and suffered a man
– Carry the spirit of true prayer as find in the book of from Africa to carry his cross, so teach us to regard the
meditation, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a members of all races as fellow heirs of the Kingdom of
Kempis (The first book): -”Strengthen me, O God, by Jesus Christ, our Lord” Amen. Such a theological
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perspective on prayer helps us to search for a mission the times and to do God’s will on earth. We have quite
paradigm as we find in Is. 54:3: “Enlarge the place of a number of prayers found in the writings of St. Paul.
your tent and let the curtains of your habituations be A few examples are given below: (i) Rom.1:8-12-
stretched out. . .” The prayer of Jabez carries a Praying for the Church in Rome (ii) Rom.10:1-Praying
personal and corporate mission paradigm: “Oh that for his own people (iii) Rom.15:5,6; Rom.15:13-Prayers
you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory. of benediction (iv) Rom.15;13- “Prayer for joy and
God granted him what he requested” (I Chron.4:10). It peace (v) 1Cor.16:22-“Maranatha” (vi) 2Cor.1:3-
is time for us to search for a mission paradigm in our 4”Thanking God for granting peace and consolation
corporate worship services. The Eco-liturgy what is (vii) 2Cor.13:14” Pronouncing benediction in the name
included in this volume of FOCUS is indeed a reminder of the Holy Trinity” (viii) Gal.1:3-5- “Thanking God for
for us to pray for peace with nature. As ecology is a the gift of Salvation through Christ” (ix) Eph.1:3-14- “A
matter of faith, its inclusion in our liturgical worship hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity” (x) Eph.1:15-22_”
must not be an optional item in the present context of Beseeching God to open our inner eyes to behold the
ecological crisis. The Eco-mission mandate by the beauty of resurrected Christ (xi) Eph.3:14-21-For
Risen Lord in Mk.16: 15 must be remembered in our strengthening of the inner man” (xii) Phil.1:3-11”
private and public prayers. “Doing things right should Thanking God for all the divine benefits” (xiii) Col.1:9-
not be a philosophy of our life, but it should be doing 12-“To lead a life according to God’s will” (xiv) 1
the right thing.” Enlargement of our spiritual vision Thes.1:2-5- “For faith, love and hope” (xv) I1
should be the norm for our witness today. “Teach us Thess.3:10-13:”For increasing love and holiness in life”
Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest” be the spiritual (xvi) 2 Tim.1:16-18 “Praying for the household of
slogan for the faithful. Onesiphorus” (xvii) 2 Thess. 2:16-17- “For
strengthening our lives for good deeds” (xviii)
2Thess.3:16-“ prayer for peace with God.”

The sole purpose of a prayer-centered life is meant to


empower “the man who belongs to God to be efficient
and equipped for good work of every kind.” It is also
a human plea as an intercessory prayer to the Throne
of Grace for the whole universe. Thus our prayer
becomes ecumenical and ecological in the true spirit of
the Lord’s Prayer.

Revd Dr. M. J. Joseph, Kottayam


Member, FOCUS Editorial Board

http://www.issuu.com/diasporafocus
http://www.scribd.com/diasporafocus

Disclaimer: Diaspora FOCUS is a non-profit


The prayer life of Jesus must be the model for the
organization registered in United States, originally
faithful. Let us a have a glimpse of the gospel
formed in late Nineties in London for the Diaspora
passages where Jesus ‘prayer life is mentioned. (i)
Marthomites. Now it is an independent lay-movement
Mk:1:35-“early morning Jesus went apart to pray”(ii)
of the Diaspora laity of the Syrian Christians; and as
Lk.3:21- “before his baptism Jesus prayed” iii) Lk;5:16-
such Focus is not an official publication of any
“Jesus often withdrew himself to pray”(iv) Lk.6:12-
denominations. It is an ecumenical journal to focus
“Jesus spent the whole night in prayer”(v) Lk.9:18-
attention more sharply on issues to help churches and
“Jesus prayed privately”(vi) Matt.14:23- “Jesus
other faith communities to examine their own
dismissed the crowd and went to pray”(vii) Lk.9:28-
commitment to loving their neighbors and God, justice,
“Jesus prayed with his disciples”(viii) Lk.11:1-“After
and peace. Opinions expressed in any article or
Jesus finished praying…” (Lk.21:37- “Be always on the
statements are of the individuals and are not to be
watch and pray” (ix) (Heb.5:7- “In the last days of
deemed as an endorsement of the view expressed
Jesus on earth, he prayed.”
therein by Diaspora FOCUS. Thanks.
The above references to Jesus’ prayer life urge us to
maintain a prayer-centered life to discern the signs of Web Site: www.facebook.com/groups/mtfocus
E-Mail: mtfocusgroup@gmail.com

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LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY!
Revd Dr. Valson Thampu, Trivandrum
St. Luke 11: 1-13
given to us, clearly, as a model. (‘Pray in this manner….”)
Prayer is a quintessential spiritual discipline. But that Instances can be multiplied.
does not mean that all prayers are necessarily spiritual.
Like most religious practices and provisions, prayer too is I have incurred myself in a mountain of insincerity on
vulnerable to abuse. In times of spiritual decline, prayer account of prayer. Many people have, in the past asked
gets overridden by superstition. me, after mentioning their needs and worries -known by
the omnibus expression “prayer requests”- “Achen,
This is nothing new. Else, the disciples of Jesus would please pray for me”. By sheer force of habit, I had said on
not have had to request him to teach them to pray. each occasion, “I shall”. I have not stayed true to even
Obviously, they were worried. They were aware of 10% of such promises. It is not that I have been
conflicting views and styles on the subject. It is indifferent to the needs and miseries brought to my
interesting that, despite Jesus’ clear and simple teaching notice. It was that I wasn’t sure I could be praying for
on prayer, its abuse continues unabated! them ‘in spirit and in truth’ by staying at a safe and
comfortable distance from their via dolorosa. This raises
the question: what is it to pray?

My discomfort all along has been that in such instances


prayer is assumed to be a magical thing that the experts
in this field may practise with unmatched efficacy. I have
always been uncomfortable in being seen as an ‘expert’
in prayer: or as one who existed in privileged proximity to
God so that he was bound to hear my prayers
preferentially and compulsorily. I experience an instinctive
unease about any magical association with spiritual
practices.

Yet I have had powerful experiences in praying. Most of


them relate to the terminal illness of my mother, spread
over a period of several years. I used to ‘wrestle’ with
God -if you don’t mind the expression- for her life. Fasting
for three days was not a problem. Praying through the
night was not tiresome. But all that was rooted in being
agonizingly “involved” with her predicament. My praying
and fasting was a seamless part of my agonized
identification with her plight. It was sustained by a
willingness to do anything for securing a wee-bit of relief
for her.

I saw, as vividly as I have seen the brightest of noondays,


two things about prayer. First, it had awesome power.
My mother had immense faith in prayer. She had nearly
as much faith in my sincerity. She believed earnestly that
“Your Father in heaven knows what you want,” Jesus God will hear the cries of my heart. The reason? She
said. Yet, the driving assumption in our prayers most of knew how much I loved her.
the time is that God does not have a clue. The more
‘specialized’ the expert in prayer is, the more he takes it Second, I felt praying to be a natural thing and a source
upon himself to instruct God minutely and meticulously of immense strength for myself. What sort of power? The
on obvious details. There is no merit in using too many power to serve, to hope, and to endure. Looking back, it
words in prayering, says Jesus. Yet, the virtue of prayers, amazes me how much I could! And how much I could
by our reckoning, depends mostly on how flowery, take. I could not only nurse my mother full-time but also
vehement and long-winded they are. Pray ‘in this excel in studies. I did not experience such explosive
manner’, says Jesus. We happily call it “Lord’s prayer” power and optimism until much later, when in the evening
and seem relieved that we don’t have to be restricted by of my life, I assumed responsibility for St. Stephen’s
that model. We brand it as a special case; whereas it was College, Delhi. I couldn’t have done half as much, but for

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the strength -strength is too weak a word- I derived from turning blue due to decreasing blood supply. Like sitting
prayer. for hours with her head in my lap. Like sharing jokes with
her, when she was well enough to listen and laugh.
The power of prayer that I experienced then was simply
due to a feeling of being near to Jesus. From Sunday I prayed for her, not because she asked me to, but I could
school classes I had gathered that Jesus was particularly not help it.
fond of children. That helped a great deal! I used to feel,
as the Psalmist says, that God’s ears were inclined to my Why, then, did I fail to pray as meaningfully and
prayers and that my tears were not wasted in his efficaciously as this for those who sought my ‘prayer
presence. He was closest to me when my heart was support’? Conversely, why did Jesus enfold, effortlessly
breaking into pieces. (I don’t use this expression merely and naturally, the whole world (Jn. 3: 16) within his ambit
as a figure of speech) of concern, compassion and prayer? And prayer, even
from the Cross?
In comparison, when I pray now, I feel that my
experiences lack that ‘density’ (Somehow, I prefer this At the heart of the parable of the Good Samaritan is the
word to ‘intensity’. Can’t say, why.). I don’t know how very same insight that prayer and social responsibilities
else to put it. I am no longer a warrior in prayer. (By the need to go hand in hand. The ambit of the religiosity of
way, a prayer-warrior is different from worldly warriors. the priest and the Levite in the parable became so very
The former fights his own littleness of faith; the latter, the narrow because it had nothing to do with the secular
weaknesses of their adversaries.) The best example of the space. It is interesting to note that, as per old
‘density’ that I mention here is the prayer of Jesus in terminologies, whatever was outside the temple premises
Gethsemane. was ‘profane’; as though the world beyond the hedge of
temples was extraneous to God’s concern and
I wasn’t acquainted well enough with the Bible in those responsibility!
days. (Not that I am a great deal better now!) Now I know
that my experiences then weren’t far dissimilar to the Like the priest and the Levite in this parable, I too failed,
discipline that Jesus practised. He persevered in prayer; as I now recognize in retrospect, because I did not grow
but not prayer as an alternative to struggle, suffering and in my sympathies. For far too long, I stayed confined to
sacrifice; but as a preparation for it. The same connection the religious haven. Today, I have no doubt at all that the
between prayer and action can be seen in the case of mark of a spiritually evolved person is his capacity to feel
Nehemiah, in his daunting mission to rebuild the broken as intensely for ‘the other’ (or, neighbour) as he feels for
walls of Jerusalem. himself. As Soren Kierkegaard pointed out long ago, the
word ‘neighbour’ is universal in scope. It does not
A question that often bothers me, when I think of prayer, exclude anyone -not even criminals and sinners- from its
is this: have I lost the spiritual gift of prayer because I lost scope.
my simplicity? Was this simplicity my strength when I was
a little boy? When one does not grow in this way, only two options are
available. (a) to stay confined to oneself and to a self-
I don’t think so. My strength then was my passionate created small world where one is at home and in charge;
identification with a cause, which was -to put it rather and (b) to resort to gimmicks in order to play on the
mildly- of the very essence of my life. This is a bit too susceptibilities and vulnerabilities of others, deceiving as
difficult to verbalize, but let me try. many as possible and, in the end, to end up self-
deceived. Jesus calls such people ‘false prophets’ -the
What I prayed for -or, wrestled in prayer for- was not wolves that come in sheep’s clothing.
something external to me. (I was not asking God for a
‘favour’). It existed in the core of my being. There was a This raises yet another issue. To what extent can we turn
total and earnest identity between the longing of my prayer into a public exercise?
whole being and the words that became my prayer. How
do I know? Well, it is quite simple. I never experienced One thing is by now absolutely clear to me: to pray is to
the slightest artificiality, shallowness, formality, or matter- have fellowship with God in the fullness of our being. It is
of-factness in praying. I was utterly unaware of the words the discipline prescribed in the first of the two cardinal
I used. Of who was around, or who wasn’t. Of the posture commandments. The logic implied here can be
or the hour in which I prayed. Forgive me for putting it this formulated in simple terms. We are to love God with the
way, I was so sincere in praying that I was not aware of fullness of our being -whole heart, whole soul, whole
praying at all. My praying was of a piece with all else that mind, whole body. Admittedly, there is no activity in the
I did for her. It was like giving her a sponge bath, for human sphere, which requires participation in a state of
example. Like feeding her, when she was too ill to sit and fullness to this extent. In comparison, all other activities
eat. Like massaging her feet, which were gradually involve only a part, or a portion, of who we are.

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It is impossible that we love God in such fullness, if we three are gathered together and agreed in his name, he
live a compartmentalized life. As we live, so we worship. If will surely heed their prayers?
we agree that we are social creatures -as is affirmed in
the commandment that we love our neighbours as we In considering this aspect of our theme, it is necessary
love ourselves- it is impossible that we love God with the that we also conjugate this assurance with the discipline
fullness of our being if we hide from our social Jesus himself laid down for praying -to pray in his name.
responsibilities. Prayer is an expression of loving God as Praying in the name of Jesus is not a magical formula! In
he deserves to be loved, which is with the fullness of our eastern thought, ‘name’ stands for the total significance
being. Seen in this sense, it is doubtful that most of us of a person. To pray in the name of Jesus is, therefore, to
pray at all. I am sure only about myself. I am far from this pray strictly according to the role model that he is to us.
norm. There are times when I feel like Shakespeare’s His prayer had the power to drive our demons, cleanse
Macbeth, “My words fly up, my heart remains below”. lepers, raise the dead and change lives because he
embraced the whole of creation in his love. Our prayers
Over the years I have grown in my conviction that are as sincere and as powerful as who we are.
spirituality is about this fullness of life (Jn. 10:10). And
prayer is necessary and powerful as a means for gaining I do believe that prayers have the power to activate
strength and inspiration in attaining this spiritual goal. external help. But that ‘external’ help must not be, as
Jesus has taught us to pray, “Thy will be done…” And Spinoza warns us, misunderstood. All means and forces
that will too is revealed clearly. It is that we should have with which the external world is filled are God-created.
life, and life in all its fullness. How can prayer be delinked God is not arbitrary or chaotic. The forces in the external
from, or fall short of, this goal? world -forces extraneous to us- can avail us through
prayer, provided we pray aright. Such prayers become
The proof, therefore, that we pray in spirit and truth is that effective only when they serve as catalysts for our growth
we grow in our awareness, sensitivities and in a manner that attunes us to the larger possibilities,
responsibilities. It is impossible that those who pray stay energies and forces that surround us.
stunted like Zacchaeus. The curse of shrinking in our
spiritual stature is that we fall into the morass of Jesus’ feeding the five thousand, with a boy’s lunch pack,
superstition. And it is indeed shocking how thickly is a case in point. The multiplication of loaves happens
overlaid our religiosity is with superstition. If we are not through a prayer of thanks giving. It evokes a response
shocked it is only because we lack discernment. Is it not from something beyond the immediate. That response is
superstitious, let me ask you, to turn praying into an ‘supernatural’ only in the sense that it seems to be so
exercise in cosmic begging, assuming God to be a from our limited understanding. Leaves absorb sunlight
superhuman Christmas father, whose duty it is to go and turn it into food with the help of chlorophyll. Dry
around distributing favours to the chosen few who do not leaves can’t do that. What if we stay as dry leaves on the
care to help themselves? withered tree of superstitious religiosity? How can it avail
us if we pray, or don’t pray, in such a state?
Jesus insisted on the likely incompatibility between the
public space and sincerity in respect of prayer. The public I have experienced help from the ‘world out there’
domain -the sphere of ‘being seen by men’- is a sphere materializing in astonishing ways. But I cannot think of a
where hypocrisy lies in wait for us. There, the desire to be single instance of that kind happening without my putting
seen by men, rather than by God, is too real and insidious myself in situations where my individual strength and
to be glossed over. It is not that we should not pray in resources were inadequate for serving the godly cause
public; or, even standing in street corners. It is that the espoused. God is not a performer. He is our helper.
location, or the setting, should not get the better of us Helper for what? Is it not to help us do his will? When it
and reduce praying into an exercise in self-advertisement. comes to doing his will, God is faithful enough to activate
Only those who have the spiritual maturity to be ‘in the external help, if need be; but not to impress anyone or to
secret place with God’ -irrespective of where they are- secure publicity, but to reveal his mercy and faithfulness.
can venture to pray ‘in spirit and in truth’ in the public
sphere too. The readers would realize how evidently Yet another way in which I have experienced the power of
mechanical the familiar experts in public prayer are. Their prayer is through the intensification of my internal powers.
eloquent prayers are like re-plays of the same old tape I must insist and emphasize that this, again, was not
that you have heard many times over. magical, but logical. God gave me the grace to stay
focused as well as open to his promptings. Insofar as I
When, then, about seeking God’s help in prayer? Are we ventured out in his name, I grew continually. God led me
not, after all, given the right to approach the Good through a variety of situations and challenges. In
Shepherd with our needs? Didn’t Jesus himself retrospect I cannot help feeling convinced that thee was a
encourage us to do so? Didn’t he say, where two or method underlying what seemed, then, to be a haphazard
process. Given the inclinations of human nature, we are

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happy to be led in linear progress, where things happen you; for I believe in what you are doing. I know that justice
neatly and predictably. My life was full of ups and downs. is on your side.” Rajiv Nayyar stayed a tower of strength
Nothing really happened as I wished, planned or till the last day of my tenure and he was largely
preferred. It was best that it did not. God had a plan for responsible for my winning all cases. It didn’t cost me a
me. And he caused me to grow continually. So, when the rupee. Do you believe such things can happen? You have
final push came, in the crowning phase of my public life to. It happened in my case. Rajiv is not a Christian. But I
as the principal of St. Stephen’s, and I got into near-death believe he was the answer to my prayers. I prayed
situations, I found myself -and this is not an because I was utterly helpless. I was on the brink of total
exaggeration- exploding with inner energy and happiness. collapse. I couldn’t have survived without this help.

How can I not include this in my understanding of what it Suppose I had taken the easy path and compromised
means to pray? What I am going to share or reveal in the with my adversaries, apologizing for my spiritual
following paragraphs presupposes some familiarity with convictions and assuring them that I’d do their bidding for
the events that comprise my tumultuous tenure as the the rest of my tenure in exchange for an easy passage
12rh principal of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Since I out? Then too I would have prayed. But my prayer would
have narrated them in my recently published memoir have been like Macbeth’s prayers, “My words go up, my
titled On A Stormy Course (Hachette India, New Delhi, heart remains below.”
2017), it is not being repeated here.
I am inherently suspicious of prayer experts; those who
St. Stephen’s had become, over the decades, the claim to enjoy special equations with the Almighty. I
exclusive preserve of the rich and the mighty. In fact, the believe all our ailments and calamities come laden with
gloss of the institution was derived almost entirely from crucial messages for us. We can stay stubbornly deaf to
this. The flip side of this situation was that the college the ‘still, small, voice’ talking to us through pain and
shut the door hard against social justice. The foremost trauma. We can also open our hearts and our lives to
question in my mind, as I took office on the 22nd of May divine authority and emerge from these situations refined
2007, was: “How can I preach the Good News to the poor and rejuvenated in the spirit. If we allow middlemen to
through St. Stephen’s.” intervene and make a mess of this sacred process, we
belittle God’s purposes concerning us.
My attempt to integrate social justice with higher
education made me the most hated person in Delhi, In 1992, I went through a serious health crisis. Three of
among the upper caste and upper class, in the annals of my cervical discs prolapsed and I was paralysed in the
higher education in India. It plunged me into a nine-years- neck and the left hand. I lay in intermittent traction for 3
long relentless turmoil, the like of which was wholly months. My neurologist grew cynical of my recovery. I
without a precedent in India. I have had hundreds of went to the UK for surgery, but it was ruled out, given the
people - Christians and Non-Christians alike- asks me, high risk involved.
“How could you survive?”
When I was in the dark night of the soul -battling demons
Through prayer, I tell them. I was all the time on my of hopelessness- light dawned on my life. A tremendous
knees. I was working all the time. But my work was inner assurance that ‘the business of my life’ was not over
awash in prayer. That is the time I realized that prayer and yet, descended deep into me. A few days later it occurred
work are one! The hallmark of doing the will of God is that to me to try and lift my head. I could! For the first time in
work and prayer become seamlessly integrated; one months. That was the most significant turning point in my
indistinguishable from the other. Then great things begin life. No prayer or healing expert was involved in this
to happen. Here is an instance. process. It was strictly between my Maker and me. God
does not need recommendations. You and I are valuable
One of the many strategies used against me was enough in his sight! The sanctuary of God’s mercy is
litigation. A slew of court cases was piled on me, on the open equally to all.
assumption that I would not able to defend myself, given
how prohibitively expensive litigation is. I had to face, in Through that near-death experience God taught me the
all, 21 court cases! value of life and of each moment in time. I was seized by
a keen desire to fill each day with the best. It was this
When this was in progress, and I was truly at my wit’s traumatic experience that motivated me to become an
end, I got a call, on night, from a total stranger. He author. I had written and published very little till then.
introduced himself as Rajiv Nayyar, a lawyer. “Sir, would After 1992, it has been truly an avalanche of creativity!
you allow me to represent you in the High Court?” Rajiv
was a senior advocate, whose charge per appearance Does God answer prayers?
was Rs. 5 lakhs. “I can’t afford you, Rajiv”. “Sir, who is
asking for money. All I want is the honour of representing Well, you decide, if he should. It is all up to you!

9 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

THE POWER OF PRAYER
David Brand, Harrow Weald

There have been many articles written about prayer, so The second event although not instantaneous was on a
you may be interested in the following events that broader scale and the reason why I am writing this article
occurred to me after praying that will hopefully reinforce is because it happened to me. In December 2012, I lost
your confidence and belief in the power of prayer. my wife to Cancer three weeks after diagnosis. We had
52 years of happy marriage; I had known her since she
A new Vicar joined us in 2007 and had been asked by a was eleven, and her father and my father were friends
lady member of the congregation for healing for a back before they married. After her death I became withdrawn
condition she had been suffering from for some time and and spent most of my time playing computer games, as
now was getting worse. I was asked to support her as this was the only way I could forget my situation;
she knelt in front of the altar while the Vicar prayed for consequently, I would put off doing what I considered to
healing. After a few minutes into the prayer she began to be non-essential jobs. I was also suffering from wet
slowly collapse, I held her to prevent her falling forward macular degeneration and was receiving injections in the
and thankfully the Vicar finished his prayer and helped me eyes.
to lower her gently to the floor. After approximately five
minutes she recovered, we helped her on to her feet and In November 2015, I woke up in the night not knowing
she announced that there was no more pain. After where I was or who I was; eventually I went back to bed
approximately four months she moved south and to wake up the next morning with every light on in the
strangely enough to the church that our previous Vicar house. I had a vague recollection of my immediate
had gone to, so we had feedback on her condition until location measured in yards but no further and a sense of
her Vicar retired. Needless to say her back remained this is where I belong. After two days with no
healed; unfortunately we no longer have contact. One improvement I had the sense to dial 111 for advice and
final twist in the tail came when our Vicar admitted to me was promptly taken to hospital and placed in the stroke
years later it was his first attempt at healing. It is worth ward. The diagnosis was a stroke in the back of the head
noting that she received an almost immediate healing where the brain made sense of the visionary signals sent
response, which begs the question where did it come from the eyes.
from? It defied all our physical laws of space and time
suggesting that whatever carried out that healing After two days I was gifted MRSA and placed in a single
operates in some spiritual dimension we are not yet privy room in a psychiatric ward opposite the Nurses Station.
to. I hope the church is examining events like these in the This has got to be the nearest thing to hell on earth if you
hope we can gain knowledge of how and why the Good are sane and trying to recover from a stroke. On the other
Lord works in his wondrous way. side of the thin partition, the nurses kept opening and
banging shut filing cabinet draws night and day. There
was a chap going up and down the corridor shouting,
“They are trying to kill me;” other patients made funny
noises or cried out. Having been used to the peace and
quiet of living on my own for three years I just could not
sleep or relax.

A few days later, I decided to go for a walk down the


corridor and on returning I could not recognise the door
to my room as my vision and recognition had
deteriorated. I badly needed undisturbed sleep, peace
and quiet before I lost my vision. The second visit of the
consultant only confirmed the deterioration but no
medication. I had a heart ablation operation scheduled for
mid-December at Harefield hospital which I did not want
to miss so after two more days of this chaos I got on my
knees, prayed for help and promised to change my ways,
ditch the computer games and help others. In the modern
idiom this was my Scrooge or ‘Groundhog Day’ moment
of decision and immediately I seemed to hear a voice in
my brain telling me to get out of this hospital now.

10 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

The following, out of the ordinary, events occurred to me During this period I had two visits from a health visitor to
and I must leave to the imagination of the readers to draw check me out after the second visit she said no more
their own conclusions. I discharged myself and arranged visits were necessary. The consultant at Moorfield said I
for my son to collect me and to my relief he totally agreed was a very rare case in that my Wet Macular
with my decision. I did not realise it at the time but my Degeneration had turned to dry. My doctor said my
incredible journey was about to begin. Having completed recovery from the stroke was remarkable. I passed the
the necessary documentation, my son and I were walking DVLA eyesight test in 2016 and have just passed it again
down the busy corridor leading to the main exit, I felt in 2018. I have had a full examination more intensive than
weak, tired and concerned about my decision. Everybody the DVLA’s. The Macular Degeneration has gone leaving
in the corridor appeared to be in a hurry, we were slow scar tissues where the bleeding had occurred and my
but we passed a man with a white stick walking even eyesight has improved requiring weaker spectacles.
slower, after passing him I was suddenly reminded of my
promise a few yards further on. I stopped turned back The heart ablation operation was successful eliminating
and asked him if I could help. My vision was bad but this any heart instability. I do not hesitate to give money or
man was virtually blind all I could see was the white of his help happily to those I am specifically directed to. I fully
eyes. He told me he was looking for the main reception, I sympathize with anybody who doubts the authenticity of
could manage that so I guided him there and the the financial side of this testimony as possibly unusual
receptionist took over after he thanked me. When my son circumstances, coincidences or luck. However, the
and I exited for the car park I suddenly felt stronger and medical side is fully documented and supported by two
no longer doubted my decision, also helping the blind medical specialists, two other doctors and one
man gave me a sense of worth. optometrist. In St Francis’ superb prayer there are two
inspiring lines that certainly apply to me.
A few days later my son and I passed an Asian lady
outside our Waitrose selling a charity broadsheet called “IT IS IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE, IT IS IN DYING
‘The Big Issue’; we passed her by; however, when we (SELF), THAT WE ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE.”
reached the car park I received another reminder. I
returned and gave her a pound, as I did not want the The first line was exactly right for in giving I most certainly
paper and a few days later I received some good financial received and not in just plain monetary terms, I also
news. received things that money cannot buy. In the second line
the elimination of the old self and creating a different
My next encounter was with a Muslim lady and her son, approach to life more in keeping with Jesus’ teaching of
they were standing by a sweet vending machine, he was closing old doors and opening new ones, leading to a
agitated and she was searching in her purse. I passed by; more purposeful and satisfying life closer to the role
but, looked back and nothing had changed; so I went model we crucified. Is it eternal? That is not my decision
back and asked what the problem was and she but my remaining years, having reached 81, will be more
mentioned twice, as I did not understand her the first fulfilling as I hope to justify the faith that has been placed
time, that she needed a twenty pence coin for the in me.
vending machine. So I gave her one and to my surprise
she said in perfect Oxford English “Thank you very I have written this because I care about your relationship
much.” This was followed by an Asian man dressed as with God through Jesus Christ. Do not repeat Mantras
Father Christmas, again selling ‘The Big Issue’, like the when communicating, he has heard them many times
Asian lady above; I gave him a pound but did not take before, have a conversation instead; he would prefer that,
‘The Big Issue’. Once more, there was a further as it is something he can listen to and act upon. Above all
improvement in my financial situation. BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE and remember that what
you receive may not be what you asked for, but it will be
A couple of weeks later, I was standing in a bus queue in your best long-term interest and please demonstrate
when a large black man said with a superb deep perfect your gratitude for that.
English accent “I am hungry will you give me money for a
Hot Dog.” I was surprised as he was well dressed in a suit Editor’s Note: Mr. David Brand is an
and overcoat. I asked him how much he wanted and he elder and a Lay Reader of the All
said, “I need £1.57”, so I gave him a £2 coin and said, Saints’, Harrow Weald, where the
“Keep the change.” The way he said thank you, left a Sinai MTC conducts worship
services. He is a retired electronic
deep impression on me due to his sincerity, warmth and
engineer. He is a friend of one of the
tone. A couple of days later I found an old Life Policy editors, and he too is a witness to
which I had completely forgotten about; so as there was the amazing recovery of the author
now only me, I decided to cash it in and received over from the stroke and macular
£13000. degeneration through the grace of God.

11 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

The Liturgy of St. James and its Importance in the Christendom; With
Special Reference to the Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Revd Dr. Jameson K. Pallikunnil

In the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Holy Qurbana is West Syrian liturgy of the present form is a Mesopotamian
considered not merely as one of the seven sacraments, but version of the Antiochian tradition. This liturgy is called the
as the centre of all others. It is also called the “Queen of all mother of the most of the Eucharistic liturgies especially of
Sacraments in the Church,” because of its centrality in the the Oriental and Eastern Churches. There is no other Eastern
3

life of the Church. In the celebration of the Eucharist, the anaphora ever seems to have such a wider circulation in the
Church commemorates the divine dispensation of God, in history of the Church. This liturgy has been employed in the
Christ with the attitudes of confession, praise, adoration, Churches of Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Armenia, Georgia,
thanksgiving, and supplication. Everything in the Church Slavonic countries, Greece, Ethiopia and Egypt. There are
leads to the Eucharist and all the things flow from it. Even 1
mainly two reasons for its wider acceptance, i.e. the
though there are many rites for the celebration of the Jerusalemite origin, and the attribution to St. James. This
Eucharist, the Liturgy of St. James possess a unique place in anaphora may be used on any occasion (unlike other
the Christian circle. This article mainly draws light into the anaphoras) but it is particularly employed on the occasions
uniqueness of the Liturgy of St. James and its importance in of all the festivals of the Church, at the ordination of
the Malankara Mar Thoma Church. deacons, priests, the consecration of a new church building,
the consecration of a bishop and enthronement of a
Patriarch / Catholicos. Usually a priest uses the anaphora of
St. James’ when he celebrates his first holy Eucharist after
having been ordained and also whenever he celebrates the
holy Eucharist in a church for the first time because of its
primacy among the anaphoras in the Syrian Orthodox
Church.

Authorship of the Liturgy

The authorship of this liturgy traditionally attributed to St.


James, the brother of Jesus Christ, the first bishop of
Jerusalem. This belief was deeply rooted among the Syriac
writers. Most of the Syriac manuscripts bear the following or
similar title: “the Anaphora of St. James, the brother of our
Lord and the Apostle, who learned from our Lord in the
Upper Room of the mysteries.” The shorter version 4

published from Pampakuda (Kerala, India) gives the title: “the


Anaphora of St. James, brother of Our Lord, Apostle, martyr,
and the first Archbishop of Jerusalem for the month of our
Lord.” The most ancient Church Father, who attributed a
5

liturgy to St. James, is St. Jerome (340-420 CE) and Proclus


the Patriarch of Constantinople (434-446 CE). The Sixth and
Seventh Ecumenical Councils testified that St. James was
the author of the liturgy. Another earliest authentic mention
of the liturgy by name occurred in Canon 32 of the
Quinisextine Council (in Trullo, 692 CE). This canon speaks
of a liturgy composed by St. James “the brother of Jesus
The liturgy of St. James is one of the oldest anaphoras in the
Christ and the bishop of Jerusalem.” During the same 6

Christian circle. It is generally believed that the origin of the


period, Jacob of Edessa (633-708 CE), in his letter to a
rite was in Jerusalem during the fourth century. This liturgy
became the liturgy “par excellence” of the Syriac-speaking
Monophysites and was to become models for a large
number of other rites. By the 17 century, the East Syrian rite
th
3 Baby Varghese, “St. James’ Liturgy: A Brief History of the

was replaced by the West Syrian rite among considerable Text,” The Harp 2, no.3 (December
sections of the St. Thomas Christians in South India. This 2
1989): 129.
4 Varghese, “St. James’ Liturgy: A Brief History of the

Text,”143.
1 Thomas Hopko, The Orthodox Faith, Worship, vol. II (New 5 This title is given to the Anaphora, which was abridged by

York: Department of Religious Education, 1972), 34. Bar Hebraeus (1286 CE).
2 Fenwick, The Anaphoras of St. Basil and St. James, 31. 6 Fenwick, The Anaphoras of St. Basil and St. James, 31.

12 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

presbyter named Thomas, gave an outline of the liturgy of the St. James liturgy was in most places a word-for-word
St. James. 7
translation from the Greek version, apparently undertook at a
time of consolidation of the non-Chalcedonians in the first
Date of Composition half of the sixth century, either in the time of John of Tella or
under Jacob of Burdana. Since the fourth century, various
11

Even though the Jerusalemite origin of St. James liturgy had Church Fathers quoted from the liturgy of St. James. The
not been questioned, there was no unanimity concerning the fundamental parts of the St. James Eucharistic prayer have
date of its composition. Some scholars propose the date to not changed since the fourth century. However, through 12

the middle of the third century and some others to the time and because of the theological disputes, which
middle of the fourth century. Those who propose fourth
8

dominated in the fourth and fifth centuries, this anaphora got


century, claims that the anaphora had already got its final many changes. When discussing theological development of
form when Cyril (313-383 CE), preached his Fifth this anaphora, James Bouyer observes that, “If we look at
Mystagogical Catechesis. The popular belief was that, the the Eucharist of St. James as a whole, we are especially
liturgy was not older than the fourth or fifth century, but its struck by the clarity of its Trinitarian theology, which is
principal elements went back to very early days, if not expressed with much more exacting precision in its structure
apostolic times and it was certainly one of the most than could be seen in the liturgy of the Eighth book of the
venerable rites of the Church. According to Heiming, the Apostolic Constitutions. All the duplications and all the
Syriac text was finalized between 520 CE and 630 CE. Since repetitions in thought have been definitively and categorically
the liturgy of St. James was acceptable to both removed.” Jacob of Edessa (708 CE) revised it and his
13

Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians, the period before revision, except for minor and superfluous changes, is used
the council of Chalcedon (451 CE) seems to be the probable by the Syrian Church today. In the early 18 century Lebrun th

date for the fixation of the Greek text. produced a French translation of the anaphora of St. James
and passages from the commentary of Jacob Edessa. A 14

Different Version of the Liturgy: A Historical Outline little before this Renaudot’s publication of more than forty
West Syriac anaphoras introduced the richness of the Syriac
A historical survey of the liturgy of St. James is a complex
liturgy with a Latin translation. Likewise an English
15

one. As cited above, this liturgy in its nucleus was brought


translation of the West Syriac Anaphoras was published by
from Jerusalem to Antioch, and it was from there, the first
Howard in 1864 and Brightmann in 1896. In 1926 Fuchs
missionaries took the rite and the liturgical customs to other
published one of the oldest Syrian Orthodox anaphoras
places. The anaphora survived in many languages, Syriac
attributed to John I (648 CE), Patriarch of Antioch. A
and Greek being the main. In some places along with Syriac,
landmark in the study of the West Syriac Anaphora is
Greek terms were also used since Church scholars in Syria
Labourt’s Dionysius Bar Salibi (1172 CE), Expositio
were bilingual. It also contained expansions, substitutions
Liturgicae on the Eucharist and Two Commentaries on the
and the apparent retention of more primitive forms when
Jacobite Liturgy edited by Connolly and Codrington. In the
compared to the extant Greek text. There were different
9

13 century, Gregory Bar Hebracus abridged the liturgy of St.


th

versions of the liturgy of St. James that had commonly been


James and made a shorter version and this text was printed
in use in the Christian corpus. They were Greek, Syriac,
at Pampakuda, Kerala. This is the oldest manuscript of St.
Georgian, Old Slavonic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Coptic
James liturgy and it was found in the Malankara Church.
Versions. The Greek and Syriac were the most important
10

Among the Syrian Orthodox Churches, this anaphora is the


versions and other forms were dependent either on one or
main liturgy. Although there are many anaphoras, the liturgy
the other. The ancient manuscripts of the Syriac version
of St. James was the model for the rest.
show that it was translated from a Greek original. The oldest
Greek manuscript belongs to the Eighth century and is The Doctrine of the Trinity: A Fundamental Aspect of the
different at several points from the Syriac text. The Syriac Liturgy
version is made from the Greek manuscripts, which are one
or more centuries older than the existing oldest Greek The doctrine of Trinity is a distinctive mark of the Christian
manuscripts. The Syriac text retained several examples of faith, which has very deep roots in the Christian tradition.
literal translation of Greek words and expressions. In the Even though there is no explicit reference as such to the
fourth century, the liturgical language of Jerusalem was term Trinity in the Bible, this theological dogma defends the
Greek, as it was evident from the Catechesis of Cyril of
Jerusalem. It was considered that a Syriac version of St.
James liturgy existed at least from the beginning of the fifth Spinks, Do this in Remembrance of Me, 160.
11
century. Brian D. Spinks remarked that, the Syriac version of Ishaq Saka, Commentary on the Liturgy of the Syrian
12

Orthodox Church of Antioch, trans. Matti Moosa (Piscataway, New


Jersey: Gorgias Press.2009), 14.
7 Frank E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, vol.1 13 Louis Bouyer, Eucharist: Theology and Spirituality of the

(Oxford: Clarendon, 1896), 490-494. Eucharistic Prayer, trans. Charles Underhill Quinn (Notre Dame,
8 A. Raes, Introduction in Liturgian Orientalem (Rome, Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 1968), 279.
Pontificio Istituto Orientale, 1947), 20. 14 Pierre Lebrun, Explication de la messe (Paris: Lyon Public
9 Anne McGowan, Eucharistic Epiclesis, Ancient and Library, 1726).
Modern (London: SPCK, 2014), 61. 15 Eusebe Renaudot, Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio
10 Fenwick, The Anaphoras of St. Basil and St. James, 57-58. (Paris: Coignard, 1716).
13 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

central faith of the Bible and of the Church. According to 16
mutual indwelling. Eastern theology tended to emphasize
22

McGrath, “the doctrine of Trinity is the outcome of a process the “distinct individuality of the three persons or
of sustained and critical reflection on the pattern of divine hypostases,” and sought “to safeguard their unity by
activity revealed in Scripture, and continued in Christian stressing the fact that both the Son and the Spirit derived
experience. This is not to say that Scripture contains the from the Father.” According to this view “the relation
doctrine of Trinity; rather, Scripture bears witness to a God between the persons or hypostases is ontological, grounded
who demands to be understood in a Trinitarian manner.” It 17
in what those persons are. Thus the relation of the Son to the
is Tertullian (155-240 CE) who is responsible for the Father is defined in terms of ‘being begotten’ and sonship.” 23

development of the Trinitarian terminology. This doctrine An Eastern understanding of the Trinity deals with God’s
emerged as a result of concrete theological reflection and radical relatedness and the movement towards the
debates throughout the centuries especially in the fourth and restoration of creation. The notion of perichoresis invites us
fifth centuries, when the early ecumenical Church councils to think in a new way about the meaning of “one” and
carefully formulated creedal summaries of the Christian faith, “personal.” The oneness of God is not the oneness of a self-
including the Nicene Creed. There are various kinds of contained individual; it is the unity of a community of
interpretations derived throughout the periods on this topic. personas. In addition, “person” means by definition
Generally, a Trinitarian understanding of God signifies, God interpersonal: one cannot be truly personal alone, but only in
in three persons, one God in three natures, mutually relation to other persons. Such is the unity and personal
indwelling and indebted together. Latin theology of the
18
character of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In short, 24

Christian West emphasizes the divine nature, whereas the it is claimed that the East begins with the Threeness of the
Greek theology of the Christian East emphasizes the divine Trinity and the West with the oneness or unity.
hypostases (person). Western readings of the Trinity
19

underlined the single divine substance of God and that A Trinitarian theology stresses that God’s life is one of
treated the personhood within the Trinity secondarily. abundant communion, a kind of fellowship that overflows to
Consequently, the West ended up with a functionally include everyone. In Trinity, there is a fellowship and
25

monistic way of imagining God’s engagement with the world: community of equals who share all that they are and have,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit act individually. The 20
each living with and for the others in self-giving love, each
Eastern tradition is seen as beginning with the relationality of free not “from” but “for” the other. Here, God is God in the
the three divine persons, whose unity is found in the source community, and in this divine community, there is no above
or origin of the Father, as well as in their perichoresis, or 21
or below, superior or inferior, but only the society of equals
who are different from one another and live together in
mutual respect and self-giving love. Unity is the basis of
their existence. The term “relationality” is a key to
understand the mystery of God. God, as a Trinity of persons
16 Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The who are mutually constitutive of and infinitely in communion
Doctrine of God (London: SCM, 1981), 16. with one another, is wholly constituted by relationality.
17 Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, According to Zizioulas, relational personhood is constitutive
2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), 293-294, 297. of being: a component of essence. There is no personal
18 Veli-Matti Karkkainen, The Trinity: Global Perspective
identity without relationality. “The Orthodox tradition has
(London: Westminster John Knox, 2007), 37. Lesslie Newbigin, The stressed the generative, outward-reaching love (ekstasis) and
Relevance of Trinitarian Doctrine for Todays Mission (London: communion (koinonia) of the three persons. The Trinity is
Edinburgh House, 1963), 34. seen as a community, whose orientation is outward and
19 Karkkainen, The Trinity: Global Perspective, 44-45.
20 Leonard E. H Jalmarson, “A Trinitarian Spirituality of
whose shared love spills over beyond itself. Moreover, the
concept of perichoresis is a dynamic, circulating movement
Mission,” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care 6, no. 1
(2013): 95. that has offered rich analogies for human interdependence.” 26

21 Perichoresis is a Greek term, firstly used by pseudo-

Cyril in the sixth century and then by John of Damascus in the


eighth century. The word “peri” (as in perimeter) means around 22 Craig Van Gelder and Dwight J. Zscheile, The Missional
and “choresis” means dancing as in the choreography of a ballet). Church in Perspective: Mapping Trends and Shaping the
The term literally refers around dancing and more deeply stands Conversation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academie, 2011), 103.
for reciprocity and exchange in the mutual indwelling of the 23 McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 297-298.
persons, to express how each person can permeate and coincide 24 “They are not three independent persons who get
here with the others without confusion. Theologically, there is a together to form a club. They are what they are in relationship with
perichoresis of the persons of the Trinity within the unity of their one another. Each exists only in this relationship and would not
substance. Perichoresis, describes the mutual indwelling and the exist apart from it. The Triune God, the Father, the Son and the
mutual inter-penetration of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. Holy Spirit live only in and with and through one another, eternally
Here, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are like three dancers united in mutual love and shared purpose.” Guthrie. Always Being
holding hands, dancing around together in joyful freedom. It Reforming, 36-37.
suggests that persons truly exist through their participation in each 25 John D. Witvliet, “The Opening of Worship: Trinity,” in A
other, not as persons in relationship, but persons as a relationship. More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony, ed. Dyk,
Shirley C. Guthrie Jr, Always Being Reforming (London: 8.
Westminster John Knox, 2008), 37. Stephen Spencer, SCM Study 26 Gelder and Dwight, The Missional Church in Perspective,

Guide to Christian Mission (London: SCM, 2007), 19. 105.


14 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

The work of Zizioulas reaches back to the Cappadocian
27
As is very evident throughout its celebration, the liturgy of
Fathers, who understood God’s being (substance or ousia) the MTC is Trinitarian in its very nature. An analysis of the
31

as an essentially relational achievement among the three liturgical prayers, rubrics, signs and symbols in the liturgy
persons (hypostasis) of the Trinity. Therefore, the unified disclose the centrality of the Trinity in the worship service.
being of the One God is only to be found in the relational The liturgy emphasizes the fact that the Trinitarian God is a
communion of the three persons. Newbigin frames it like God of Communion, i.e. a life of communion with the Father,
this: “Interpersonal relatedness belongs to the very being of the Son and the Holy Spirit. It enumerates that the
God. Therefore, there can be no salvation for human beings incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the sending forth of the
except in relatedness. No one can be made whole except by Holy Spirit into the world, and the foundation of the Church
being restored to the wholeness of that being-in-relatedness establishes the faith of the MTC. The Eucharistic celebration
32

for which God made us and the world and which is the in the Church begins and concludes with the Trinitarian
image of that being-in-relatedness which is the being of God adoration. Through this adoration, the Church affirms and
himself.” 28
proclaims her faith in the Trinity. The primary response
33

during the opening of worship is adoration of the Trinity. All 34

Significance of the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Mar Thoma sedros in the liturgy conclude with the adoration of the
Church Trinity. A Trinitarian adulation is pronounced while censing
the altar and throughout the service. The celebrant offers
The Mar Thoma Church (MTC) mainly uses a revised form of blessings in the name of the Trinity. Through the 35

the liturgy of St. James in its Eucharistic service. This revised pronouncement of the Nicene Creed the Church affirms its
version is a modification of the Syrian Orthodox liturgy in line faith in the Triune God. According to Jacob of Edessa, (640-
36

with Protestant theology. The revision of liturgy is based on


29

708 CE) “the priest begins with these words to teach the
scriptural principles. A distinguishing mark of this liturgy is its unity of the nature, the essence, and the three hypostases,
intimate connection with the Holy Bible. The prayers are which are separated without separation and united without
resplendent with echoes and idioms of the Bible. The confusion.” 37

content of this liturgy is simple and easy to follow. It is


enriched with elements of solemnity, majesty, and mystery. In the Mar Thoma liturgy, the celebration of the Holy
The use of the vernacular for most part of the liturgy helps to Qurbana is an expression of the communion of love from the
maintain a continuous dialogue between the celebrant and
the community. The whole liturgy constantly brings before
31 “We praise You, the One true God, One power in
our mind the supreme importance of the mystery of the
blessed Trinity in the Eucharistic worship. This liturgy is full substance, Three persons known as the Father, the Son and the
of mystical symbolism. The vestments, the sacred Holy Spirit. We praise You O Triune God, the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, One in essence, in power and truth.” Order of Worship for
ornaments and the sacred ritual are very meaningful. 30

Divine Service, Parasyaradhana Kramam (Thiruvalla: Mar Thoma


Publication Society, 2000), 12, 22. “Christ our God, inscrutably
The Trinitarian Emphasis in the Liturgy of the Mar Thoma
confessed as the One True God, known in three Persons yet
Church believed as One.” Titus II, Qurbana Thaksa, 125.
32 Daniel, Ecumenism in Praxis, 23-25.
33 “Give praise to the Father Almighty. To his Son, Jesus

Christ the Lord, To the Spirit who dwells in our hearts. Both now
and for ever.” The Order of the Holy Qurbana, 1.
34 “Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
27 John Zizioulas, Being as Communion (Toronto: Novalis, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be word without end-
2002), 16-22. According to Zizioulas, “there is no true being Amen.” Titus II, Qurbana Thaksa, 1. Juhanon, The Order of the Holy
without communion; nothing exists as an “individual” in itself. Qurbana, 1. It is important to remember that every act of praise is a
Therefore, to be a “person” in contrast to an “individual,” there strong act of negation as well as affirmation. When we sing praise to
needs to be communion, relation and opening to the other, or as he the triune God, we are asserting our opposition to anything that would
often calls it an ekstasis (going out of one’s self). Human existence, attempt to stand in God’s place. Witvliet, “The Opening of Worship:
including the existence of the Church communion, thus reflects the Trinity,” 12.
communal, relational being of God.” 35 There are four blessings in the anaphora all of which, with
28 Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret (Grand Rapids: the exception of the second, are in the name of the Trinity. The second
Eerdmans, 1975), 70. blessing is in the name of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the Catholic and
29 Phillip Tovey, The Liturgy of St. James as Presently Use Protestant traditions, in the Oriental Eastern worship the celebrant and
(Cambridge: Grove Books, 1998), 3. It is a revised version of the rite faithful turn to the East side to celebrate the Liturgy. During the time of
that is in use of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in India. blessings the celebrant turn towards the faithful and bless the
30 The influence of the CMS missionaries motivated the congregation by pronouncing the Trinitarian blessing with sign of the
reformers to study the scripture thoroughly. The Bible is the norm for cross.
36 The MTC accepts the teachings of the first three
the faith and practice of the MTC. Traditions that are considered
contrary to biblical teachings were abandoned or amended. The ecumenical councils, i.e. Nicaea, (325 CE) Constantinople (381 CE)
Church has seriously taken the biblical authority over the liturgy and at and Ephesus. (451 CE).The creed formulated in the council of Nicaea is
the same time, they tried to uphold the traditions of the Malankara pronounced in every liturgical celebrations before the beginning of the
Church too. The Mar Thoma liturgy is a blending of these two anaphora. Titus II, Qurbana Thaksa, 18-19.
elements: tradition and Scripture. Kuruvilla, An Indian Fruit from the 37 Quoted in Baby Varghese, “Dionysius Bar Salibi:

Palestinian Roots, 12-13. Commentary on the Eucharist,” Moran Etho, no.10 (1980): 48.
15 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit. The Church prays Conclusion
and sings to the Trinity “through Christ,” in the power of the
Holy Spirit. The Liturgy shows that, God is active in
38
The Eucharist is the central act of the Church. It is always
prompting the prayers of the faithful, in receiving it and in the End, the sacrament of the Parousia, and yet it is always
perfecting it. An active participation in the Eucharistic liturgy the beginning, the starting point of the mission (Lk.24:8). The
enables the faithful to take part in the Trinitarian mystery. Church is called out to witness the resurrection of Christ. By
The liturgy invites the faithful to engage with the fullness of the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church proclaims the
the life of Christ and draws the faithful into the Trinitarian salvific act of Jesus Christ. In the Holy Qurbana, the
mystery of salvation. Thus, the missionary dimension of the transmission of the life of communion that exists in the
liturgy can be perceived from the framework of the Trinity. It Trinity is experienced. This enables the Church to continue
enunciates the importance of mission through its prayers the mission of the God in this world. The Trinitarian
41

and practices. The liturgical celebration motivates the faithful dimension of the liturgy shows how the faithful community
to engage with the mission of the Triune God in creation. The can be in relation with God and with their fellow beings. It is
Trinitarian model of mission is similarly a paradigm for the a twofold relationship: vertical relation of the faithful to God
mission of the MTC. As cited above, the Trinity is a and the horizontal relation of the faithful to fellow beings. The
community in relationship which discloses love in action. The liturgy of the Holy Qurbana in fact serves as the central
mission of the Church is mainly to create a community of thread and brings the believers close to the Lord Jesus as
love which is united in the name of Jesus Christ and well as to the Church, which is His body. The symbols used
strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. This in the Holy Qurbana communicate the theological richness
community is called out to live and enliven others by the and the traditions of the Church. This liturgy is a deeply
values of the Kingdom of God, to reflect the divine nature for moving and richly symbolic spiritual drama in which the
the glory of God and to move in faith towards Eternity. The salvific act of Jesus Christ is relived and shared. The liturgy
liturgical emphasis of the Trinitarian community is a model of is, both in its character and in its mystery, appealing to both
mission, which motivates the Church through its various the physical and mystical senses. The symbolism of word
ministries to work for the formation of communities by its and act, of vestment and voice, of jingling of the censer,
diverse interactions in society. This model demands a burning of the incense, lighted lamps in the sanctuary, and
Trinitarian way of thinking and living which means a life the veil, transports the faithful before the very throne of God.
based on interrelationship, mutuality, respect and unity. An It is in the “table of life,” where the glorification of God and
experience of communion is at the heart of both God’s the sanctification of people are taking place. It is the solemn
Triune life and the Christian life. A Trinitarian way of worship
39
occasion where the heaven and the earth are reconciled. It
is practiced by communities that fully embrace Trinitarian is on this Table that the Church proclaims the resurrection of
ways of thinking and living. “Liturgical worship reflects, Christ, and this process will continue until He comes back in
embodies, and enacts a rich tapestry of relationships. his glory.
Christian liturgy embodies the mutuality and koinonia of a
Trinitarian ecclesiology. At its best, it enacts and prefigures This liturgy, undoubtedly, provides many opportunities for
the Kingdom of God. Christian worship is an icon or window the participation of the congregation. Still it is often criticised
into the web of relationships that make up the Christian as lengthy, monotonous and for its lack of variety. The
Church. It is an icon of our union with Christ through the prayers are replete with idioms, images, and it echoes the
work of the Holy Spirit.” 40 Bible. An active participation in the Eucharistic liturgy
strengthens the participants to discharge their God-given
mission. The Eucharist involves a thankful remembrance of
the mighty deeds of God in history, a sending forth into the
contemporary world to be with the God as He continues His
38 The two primary models for Christian prayer and worship
saving deeds, and we are looking forward for the end, which
are (1) prayer directed to God the Father, God the Son, and God the He is bringing about.
Holy Spirit, and (2) prayer directed to the Father, through Christ, in the
Spirit. For more on these models see Josef Jungmann, The Place of Editor’s Note: Rev. Dr. Jameson K.
Christ in Liturgical Prayer, trans. A Peeler (New York: Alba House, Pallikunnil, is an ordained minister of
1965) and Graham Redding, Prayer and the Priesthood of Christ in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, who holds
Reformed Tradition (London: T and T Clark, 2003). In liturgy the two post graduate degrees in
human-divine and divine-human communication workout of Trinitarian Sociology and Liturgical Theology and
formula. The Liturgical emphasis of the prayers conclude with the
was bestowed with Ph.D. from St.
Trinitarian supplication but in the extempore prayer concludes with the
Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland.
supplication through Christ. The MTC do practice Trinitarian worship,
He is now serving as the vicar of the
but without much acknowledgement of highlighting of it. Very often in
Switzerland and Belfast Mar Thoma
the extempore prayers in the Church end with the words “in Jesus
Congregations. Achen is the author of the book “The Eucharistic
name,” Amen. It is not the negation of the Trinitarian doctrine rather an
affirmation of divine nature of Jesus and the supplication of prayer to Liturgy: A Liturgical Foundation for Mission in the Malankara Mar
the Trinity through Jesus. A Trinitarian nature of worship help the Thoma Syrian Church” published in 2017.
faithful to grow into the fullness of biblical teaching about God.
39 “May they be one as were one…” (Jn.17:12), “Truly our 41 Karl Muller, Theo Sundermeier, Stephen B. Bevans,

fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn.1:3) Richard H. Bliese, eds., Dictionary of Mission: Theology, History,
40 Witvliet, “The Opening of Worship: Trinity,” 23. Perspectives (New York: Orbis, 1999), 435.
16 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

Prayer: Elixir of the Soul
Acharya Sachidananda Bharathi
then enjoy ‘abundant life’. Lord Jesus Christ came to give
Prayer is to the soul what food is to the body. Just as the this ‘abundant life’ to all those people who ‘seek, knock and
body needs to be nourished constantly with good food for a ask’ for it through prayer as he had taught us. The prayer
healthy life, the soul also needs to be nourished constantly life of a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ often goes through
with ardent prayer for our spiritual growth. Prayer is the four stages. In our Indian tradition we can also refer to these
elixir of the soul. Communion with God through faith, hope four stages as ‘Salokhyam’, ‘Sameepyam’, ‘Saroopyam’ and
and love is the goal and essence of prayer. ‘Sayoojyam’, which are the four stages in the spiritual quest
The God we worship determines our character, worldview and life of a sincere seeker of God.
and relationships. Hence, it is very essential for us first of
all to have a clear understanding of the God we worship. ‘Salokhyam’ in the context of our Christian prayer life
‘Eternal life is knowing the one true God and His Christ’ implies familiarity. It means we are familiar with the name
taught Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.3). The one true God was and person of Lord Jesus Christ, we read the Bible and we
defined by him as ‘Spirit’. He also taught that this one true often go to Church to pray to him. Most ‘Christians’ come
God needs to be worshiped in truth and spirit (Jn. 4.24). The under this category. Petitions, Praise, Thanks-giving,
most devout disciple of Lord Jesus Christ, Paul of Tarsus, Adoration, and Sacraments etc. can be seen as forms of
saw God as the One in whom ‘we live, move and have our prayer at this stage.
being’ (Acts 17.28). The one true God was also presented
by Lord Jesus Christ as an infinitely loving Father of all ‘Sameepyam’ implies closeness. At this second level of our
humankind. Through the parable of the prodigal son the prayer life we develop a close personal relationship with the
Divine Master taught his disciples that they could develop a crucified and risen Christ. We can feel his living presence in
personal relationship with God as an eternally loving our lives. He will become ‘Emmanuel’ for us and we will
‘Father’ who is infinitely merciful and ever forgiving (Lk 15. become fearless and creative disciples of the Divine Master,
11-32). ready to take risks for him and on his behalf.

John, the ‘beloved disciple’ of the Divine Master, had ‘Saroopyam’ implies imitation. At this third level of our
defined God as ‘Love’ (1 Jn. 4.8). Lord Jesus Christ is the prayer life we begin to imitate the Lord in our own lives. He
incarnation of God’s love in human history. He is becomes our standard and we sincerely strive to become
‘Emmanuel’ (God with us). Hence, we can develop a Christ like-persons.
personal relationship and have a deep experience of the
one true God in, with and through Lord Jesus Christ. This is ‘Sayoojyam’ implies blissful communion. At this final stage
the unique revelation that we have received through the of our prayer life we enter into a blissful communion with
Holy Spirit. This possibility of a living and loving personal God the Father through the living Spirit of Christ, the Holy
relationship with the one true God is the uniqueness of the Spirit of God. This was also the communion prayer of Lord
Christian faith. ‘God is light’ (1 Jn. 4.8). This is an insight Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.21)
about the one true God that almost all major religions of the
Popular Christianity remains mostly at the first level. Vocal
world share in common. According to the Holy Quran, ‘Allah
prayers, petitions, seeking for favours and miracles etc. are
is the light of the world.’ The Guru Grandh Sahib teaches us
the characteristics of people at this level. Meditation and
that ‘God is the Light of lights’. The Chandogya Upanishad
mysticism alone can lead us to higher levels of prayer life.
points out that God is the ‘Great Light beyond all the
The ‘Peace of Christ Meditation’ (also termed ‘Inner Peace
worlds.’ God as light can be seen as a meeting point of
Meditation’) developed and promoted by ‘Disciples of Christ
religions. ‘Light’ here also means ‘wisdom’. Lord Jesus
for Peace’ (DCP) through the Dharma Bharathi School of
Christ is ‘the power and wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1.24).
Forgiveness & Reconciliation (DBSFR) is found to be very
‘Power’ here implies the divine energy that is the source of
effective in leading sincere seekers to higher realms of
life. The Divine Master is also the ‘light of the world’. Those
spiritual growth and experience.
who follow him shall have the ‘light of life’ (Jn. 8. 12).
Editor’s Note: Acharya Sachidananda Bharathi is a former
Prayer according to Lord Jesus Christ has to be more of a Indian Air Force Squadron Leader turned disciple of Sadguru
matter of the heart than of many spoken words. ‘When you Jesus Christ. An encounter with the living Spirit of Christ while
pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to hospitalized after an air accident in 1982 was the ‘turning point’
your Father in secret’ taught Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 6. 6). in his life. He has founded a number of organizations,
Here, the term ‘inner room’ is to be understood as the ‘cave institutions and ashrams. He has also travelled much and has
of the heart’. ‘Close the door’ implies withdrawing our authored a number of books. He was one of the delegates who
senses from external things and focusing the mind on God represented India in the ‘Millennium World Peace Summit of
the Father who is Spirit, Love and Light. The Spirit of God Religious and Spiritual Leaders’ organized by the United
will empower us, the Love of God will enliven us and the Nations in August 2000. He now lives in Dharma Bharathi
Light of God will enlighten us through such prayer. We will Ashram, Mulanthuruthy, Kochi – 682314, Kerala. E-mail:
swamisachidananda@gmail.com, Mobile - 07709796805 &
URL:www.navasrushti.org
17 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

Aspects of the Prayer Movement in India (A Personal Account)
Dr. M. A. Raju, India*

The below is an excerpt from the Book “Transforming The other group that prayed regularly every morning at 5 am
Partnerships” chapter 1 – Aspects of the prayer was the Mizo village churches under the Mizo Presbyterian
movements in India (A personal account) church and later the Zoram Baptist churches (the Mizo
churches have had periodic revivals since the Welsh
Be steadfast in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. revivals in 1906). The Mizo churches, like FMPB,
Pray for us also that God may open the door to us for the independently raised finances for missions, with one hand
Gospel. And pray that words may be given to us to proclaim full of rice for the family and one hand full of rice for
boldly the mystery of the good news of salvation… that in missions, one egg for the family and one egg for
proclaiming it we may speak courageously and winsomely, missions. Today FMPB raises more than Rs 100 crores
as we should…The earnest heartfelt prayer of righteous ($20 miillion) a year for missions and has I think over. Mizo
people makes tremendous power available. (Col.4:3, 4; churches too raise more than $25m a year for missions and
James 5:16 Amp. Bible) Prayer is the foundation of all that also have over 2000 missionaries. (The Mizo churches have
we are and do. “When we work, we work. When we pray, the highest proportion of missionaries per head of
God works.” Below are some of the ways that prayer has population in the world).
been woven into God’s work in India.
1970s: The first people I know who did prayer walking in the
Earlier periods The recent prayer efforts of the last 25 country were FMPB pray-ers. They used to take a round trip
years described below look back to much earlier prayer, ticket (in those days the Indian railways used to have a
starting in the 1950’s with individuals and small groups concession ‘See India’ ticket for a small sum). About 10-20
praying for the nation after independence. (It is difficult to of them, mostly rural teachers and others, would take an
be sure of the period before that because of insufficient overnight train (so that they did not have to pay for a hotel)
documentation – though most of us have read of John Hyde go to a local CNI church – to have a bath etc. – and then
and the Punjab Prayer Union and the revival in the early use the church hall to pray for that city. This they used to
1900’s beginning in Sialkot (now in Pakistan). do every year, taking the train to the major north Indian
cities, throughout the 70’s
In the 1950’s the movement, as I see it, was in South India
and in the North East and in the Prayer Fellowship for South 1980s onwards: In the mid 80’s South Asian Concern came
Asia (PFSA) in Britain where a group of returning into the picture when we latched on to the Prayer
missionaries have been meeting regularly twice a year and Fellowship for South Asian (PFSA) which used to meet for a
exchanging news letters about happenings in South weekend of Prayer every year. We then started our own 24
Asia. The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) was also hour prayer and fasting for India in April-May every
birthed in the deep desire for revival and held regular prayer year. When I came to India in 1991 I soon realised the
events for revival in the same period (recorded in ‘To God immense need of prayer. In 1994 we did the first Spiritual
be the Glory’ by Robert McMahon). map of India when Dr John Robb came to Varanasi. With
DR Victor Choudhrie we did our first prayer boat trip. The
The early 60’s: In the early 60’s there was intensification book by Diane Eck ‘Benares City of Light’ stimulated me to
of prayer with the Friends Missionary Prayer Band do a spiritual map of Varanasi that was circulated.
(FMPB). Prayer groups were started in different places in
Tamil Nadu with committed leaders just to pray for the About the same time my brother in Bombay told me about
nation. All the pray-ers became members of Friends Dr Zacharias Fomum, a Cameroonian Biochemist and
Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB). I still remember Dr Apostle of Prayer who had a church of 3000 in Yaounde
Kamalesan recounting to me in London how in the early and a 24 hour prayer ministry led by a sister Esther. My
60’s when they were praying for India they felt a mighty brother helped Dr Fomum to publish 10 (really intense)
wind and they all went about shouting and praising God books on prayer in India. Dr Zach had been making visits to
and laying their hand on a map of India on every district and India, taking a room in a hotel in Bombay and Varanasi and
claiming it for Christ. He told me about an overseas other cities for 10 days and having only water and tea and
missionary who was staying in the house and was fast praying for India. I invited him to come again and teach on
asleep they woke him up saying how could he sleep at such prayer. From 1994 to 1998 I went around with Dr Zach
a time as this. Out of this prayer FMPB, with its amazing stirring up prayer for India and he taught on prayer. There
missionary movement, was born – A mission society with were sometimes 50, sometimes 100 in a church, from
sacrificial giving and dedicated prayer. Its members don't Ludhiana to Mumbai, from Coimbatore to Hyderabad. The
think that it is a burden on them but they think that it is a largest audience we had was 2000 in a church in
precious privilege for them to give whatever they have to Coimbatore. He was particularly popular with FMPB, as
the Lord. Today FMPB raises more than Rs 60 crores (US$ their prayer movement was flagging. His books were
9 miillion) a year for missions and has over 2500 translated into Tamil and lapped up there. Once I was with
missionaries. him at a FMPB conference in Tamilnadu where there were

18 | P a g e F O C U S A p r i l 2 0 1 8

nearly 2000 missionaries and their families. In the middle of Thomas Samuel (former head of OM India) had been
the heat of May we had 2 days of teaching and praying for running since the 1970’s, as had ‘Jesus Calls’, the prayer
India. About that time I also produced a booklet ‘30 days of towers in India founded by Dr DGS Dhinakaran. One led by
prayer for the Hindu world’ with a YWAMer (on the same Mohan C Lazarus and ‘Jesus Redeems’ ministry in
lines as the 30 days of prayer for the Muslim world’, also by Nalumawadi, a small village in Tamilnadu, used to have
YWAM). This was produced each year from 1998-2001 by 6000-10000 people meet every month in that small village
South Asian Concern in partnership with YWAM. for 12 hours of fasting prayer for the country. I think the first
truly 24 hour prayer ministry was started in the 1990s by
From 1994-96, there was a modest worldwide movement Bro Chelladurai in Chennai under the ACA independent
for praying for the Kumbh Mela spearheaded by Greg and Church. The 24 chain prayer had 3500 volunteers with a
Debbie Wiley of YWAM. Peter Wagner was involved as well true 24 hour nonstop prayer for the country without a
as the spiritual warfare track of the AD 2000 and Beyond minute lost in between.
movement, so ably led by Luis Bush. It was at that time that
the North India Harvest Network (NIHN) was born. I had 2001: Back at the full Kumbh Mela in Allahabad Dr
prepared a paper on the challenge of North India, ‘The Core Zacharias Fomum held a Prayer conference where there
of the Core’, which Luis Bush edited and published and put were nearly 900 Christians who gathered for prayer at ABS,
on the web. Later Dr Bush came to India and led about 6 or arranged through Conrad and Nina Menezes and Bro
7 awareness meetings in North India which was also Vardaraj. During that Kumbh Mela one organisation raised
published as a short book. 2 million packets of tracts in 6 Indian languages and
distributed them in 10 different locations, through 350
With Tony Hilton Samuel (son of the first FMB Missionary to volunteers.
be sent to North India) and his mates plus Rajesh Tiwari my
research assistant and Ram’s niece Sheena Gidoomal, we In Jan 2001 the floodgates of response started. At a
produced books on Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sunday meeting at the university chapel at Allahabad
Rajasthan, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Nepal. In Agricultural Institute there were over 300 people crowded
those books we outlined every people group, language, into the meeting. It was led by a revived Dr R B Lal, Vice
urban agglomerate and geographical district. Chancellor (now SHUATS). By June of that year there were
5000 village people meeting at the SHUATS sports stadium
The Kumbh Mela in 1998: in Allahabad. By Dec that year 50,000 were coming every
Greg Wiley took a film that I had picked up from SOAS Sunday to hear the Gospel preached by Dr R B Lal the Vice
(School of Oriental and African Studies) in London and Chancellor at the Yoshi Durbar.
edited it to a short film on the Kumbh Mela, which raised
prayer worldwide for the 1998 Ardh (half)`Kumbh in NPCTI and UCPI
Haridwar. By that time the Wiley’s had moved with their
prayer team to Mussoorie (35 miles from Haridwar) and Ray In 2004 the National Prayer and Church Planting Initiative
Eicher (formerly head of OM in India) had got involved. (NPCTI) was launched, followed by the United
Every month we used to take a team to Haridwar to fast and Christian Prayer for India, as described in later chapters of
pray for the Kumbh. Also we had 24 hour fasting prayer in this book. On 5th January 2013 over 300,000 people met
Mussoorie for North India. We also met every day from 6-7 under the leadership of Mohan C Lazarus and Jesus
am in the morning for prayer for North India. I had by then Redeems Ministries in Chennai to fast and pray for 12 hours
prepared a Spiritual map of India. Patrick Joshua of FMPB for India!! It can be seen at
invited leaders from North India Harvest Network (NIHN) to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXyc3qZ80N0)
fast and pray with FMPB at the Sangam (at the confluence
of the Ganges and Yamuna) in Allahabad. We also There are so many unsung heroes of the faith. It makes me
produced our own film on the Kumbh Mela led by a YWAM want to sing…….
film crew. Ray Eicher prepared a strategy where he got 5
million gospel packets in 11 Indian languages distributed in God is still on the throne, and He will remember His
26 locations mostly in Uttar Pradesh through nearly 800 own;
volunteers (750 from OM with Joseph D’Souza’s Though’ trials may press us and burdens distress us,
backing). Amazingly all the tracts were distributed without a
He never will leave us alone;
single violent reaction.
God is still on the throne, He never forsaketh His
New leadership for the Prayer Movement: By then the own;
Prayer movement was taken over by Brother Vardaraj and His promise is true, He will not forget you, God is still
he and Dr Fomum went to cities and towns that had on the throne.
sometimes 5.000 and even 10,000 people at a time praying
for the country. Editor’s Note: Dr. M. A. Raju was trained and practised
as a neurologist in the UK and moved to India to provide
Other Prayer Ministries: Also about that time we became compassionate help and social justice to poor in Utter
aware of other prayer movements. ‘Quiet Corner’ led by Pradesh, India.

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URSLEM YAATRA VIVARANAM: AN ALTERNATE READING: Part-2
Revd Dr. Valson Thampu, Trivandrum

[Saint Geevargese Mar Gregorios is popularly known as The bankruptcy of our spirituality, the anaemia of our faith-life, is
Parumala Thirumeni (Bishop of Parumala) and also known as its poverty vis-a-vis first-hand experiences and the barrenness it
Kochu Thirumeni, (15 June 1848 – 2 November 1902. He was a breeds. We are not unlike the fig tree that disappointed Jesus
bishop of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. In 1947, he on his way -what a remarkable coincidence! - to Jerusalem. It
was declared a saint by the then Catholicos of the church, seems to flourish; but is barren (Mt. 21: 18-22). The point is that
Baselios Geevarghese II. Later, in 1987, he was declared a saint there is a relationship between God’s initiatives and human
by the then Patriarch of Antioch, Ign- Page 17atius Zakka I. He responsibilities. Spirituality involves seeing the link between the
was recognised as a saint by The Malankara Jacobite Syrian sacrificial atonement that Jesus undertook and the fruitfulness
Church and Coptic Orthodox Church. Part -1 of this article with which we need to respond to the same; for sacrifice is not
appeared in FOCUS January 2018] waste. Even a fig tree is required to be fruitful. It is this logic that
underlies the composition of Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam. The
We are now in a position to understand why Thirumeni was book is the fruit of the author’s journey; and it needs to be
keen that every congregation should have a copy of Urslem treated and cherished as such. It was the very same logic that
Yaatra Vivaranam and all, who could do so, visit the land of the transformed Kochu Thirumeni into Parumala Thirumeni. If it were
Saviour. He was not promoting holy tourism! Of course, he otherwise, his life would not have been relevant to the spiritual
knew that only a microscopic minority among his immediate struggle and faith pilgrimage of the generations after him.
flock could even dream of undertaking such a journey. But
whether one can go to Jerusalem or not, one thing is within ‘Seeing,’ in the sense in which Parumala Thirumeni envisages its
everyone’s reach. There is no one who cannot go beyond the scope and purpose in Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam, can orient
limitations of the spoken, or preached, word and enter into a hearers and passive spectators towards the narrow way to
vitally reciprocal relationship with the Living Word. Also, there is saintliness. Going by the insight that Jesus provides in the
no one who is in a particularly privileged position in this respect. Sermon on the Mount, it is the willingness to go out and ‘do’
according to what is ‘heard’ that expresses the essence of such
This is the light that shines out of Jesus’ most extraordinary seeing. “He who hears these words of mine and does them…”
conversation with the woman of Samaria. “Sure, you need this (Mt. 7:24). The journey that Thirumeni undertook involved
water. But, by itself, this will not do. There is water you have not ‘doing’ of this order. A saint is one in whom what is heard
heard of before, which you now have. I am the living waters.” becomes what is seen, and what is seen becomes what is done,
The woman came to Jacob’s well ‘seeing’. She abandons her and done in such a way that what one sees becomes visible to
pitcher at the well and rushes to the denizens of the city in others as well. Jesus said, “Let your lights so shine before men
evangelistic outreach ‘seeing’ differently. Any ‘seeing’ that does that they may see your good works and give glory to your
not take us beyond ‘seeing’ of the first kind, and the scope of Father in heaven” (Mt. 5: 16). This, more than anything else,
mere hearing needs to have his eyes opened by the light of the accounts for Thirumeni’s eagerness to ensure wide circulation
world (Lk. 4: 18; Jn. 9: 5). If the woman is not to go beyond her for Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam, so that his people who would not
present degradation, water from Jacob’s well should do. The be able to go to Jerusalem may see it through his eyes.
best thing to do then is to dress up that well in a hoary tradition Spiritually, the shepherd is also the eye of the flock. That is why
and to tout it as a hallowed tourist destination. ‘watchfulness’ is critically important in discharging episcopal
responsibilities.
While the world moved on, for better, for worse, from the ‘heard’
to the ‘seen’ -and have become the blinder for it- the Christian From the biography of Parumala Thirumeni it is obvious that his
community in Kerala remained laboring under the ‘heard’. We Jerusalem journey made him all the more active. It was followed
live drenched under a Monsoon of words. In our midst, words by several significant initiatives and advocacies. Especially
are pretty much like rains. Gusts of proclamations come and go. noteworthy is the fervor with which he addressed the Dalit
The rain of words, presumably centred on the Word, leads none question, in which he was truly a pioneer and a revolutionary. In
to the living waters. There could be debates on whether or not the historic speech that Thirumeni made, soon after returning
Parumala Thirumeni’s was indeed the first travelogue in from his Jerusalem visit, he said-
Malayalam. But there can be no doubt at all if he was the first to
take the prophetic pains to emphasize the need for the faith “At the present time, those who are languishing in what are
community to supplement hearing with seeing. considered lower castes -pulayas and others- are disallowed to
use public thoroughfares. They are denied the right to be in
Given how little this is understood even a century after Parumala concourse with their fellow creatures. It is our duty to end their
Thirumeni advanced it in his own authentic fashion, it will not be suffering and degradation, to empower and liberate them
inappropriate to stay a while longer with it. In what sense is the through education, and to welcome them into the way of
‘seen’ Word spiritually superior, or more helpful, than the word salvation and social rehabilitation.”
that is only heard? The heard word implies the passivity of the
believer/listener. He only has to lend his ears. In contrast, what Sadly, most people have stayed as ‘listeners’ and not ‘seers’
is seen transforms the believer into an active, eager participant. and ‘doers’ of Thirumeni’s words. Commenting on the spiritual
Listener could become a seer. The focus, then, is as much on paralysis this betrays, Siby Tharakan wrote, “This mandate has
the one who sees as on what is seen. This shifts the emphasis still not entered into the mainstream of the Orthodox Church.”
from what is provided, to what needs to be attained.

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Every text has an interpretative key. Identifying it and using it respecter of ranks and statuses. Nor is it vassal to the will of
perceptively is similar to using keys to open and enter our man. It will break out. Dare you resist? You will burn yourself.
houses. The alternative is to skirt around the house, without Fire points to a horizon of possibilities beyond human control.
bothering to enter it. What, then, is the interpretative key to What stays confined to man-made systems is not fire; it is mire.
Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam? A saint is one who, being the new fire kindled by God, breaks
out. That is why, paradoxically, he attracts! “Puthen theei,” as
Those who have read the narrative with ears attuned to the Thirumeni encountered it, is to spiritual civilization what
spiritual genius of Parumala Thirumeni will readily agree that it is empirical fire is to material civilization. To break out is to liberate
the passage pertaining to “puthen theei”, or the new fire. The oneself from the stereotypes that, in every society, hold its
whole of chapter nine is devoted to this episode. I give below an members shackled. The connection that the book of Exodus
excerpt from Thirumeni’s account of it- establishes between fire and liberation is a significant one; and it
is central to the spiritually transformative experiences that
“It is ardently held by believers in the Eastern tradition that Parumala Thirumeni narrates in Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam.
puthen theei is a spontaneous emanation from the Holy
Sepulchre. This is endorsed not only by Christian believers but Was the tradition concerning the new fire blazing forth on the
also by the Muslims in this region. Tradition has it that, once day of the Resurrection from the Holy Sepulcher a living
upon a time, rich and aristocratic people crowded this sacred tradition; or was it only make-believe? Thirumeni does not shed
space to the exclusion of the poor from this awesome light on this question. Instead, he is fully and glowingly
experience. The door was shut against them. It happened engrossed in this profound experience. Here we have yet
thereupon that the stone block, to which one of the flaps of the another crucial spiritual truth. How do we harmonize faith and
door was fixed, cracked from top to bottom and, through the fact in the spiritual pilgrimage that life is?
split; fire from the sanctuary went out to the poor and the
excluded. The rich and the mighty had to come out and receive There are times I feel inclined to believe that spirituality, like art,
the new fire from them.” is a collaborative experience. Religious accoutrements are, at
best, raw materials for spirituality. No ready-made version or
Beyond providing a matter-of-fact account of what obviously is view is imposed on us. Spirituality, like art, is a domain of
a widely revered tradition; Thirumeni does not dilate upon its freedom. It is incompatible with coercion of any kind. God is
history, or bother to record his personal views on its veracity, marked more by vulnerability than by raw power! The biblical
one way or another. He takes it as the given and puts the vision culminates, in the book of Revelation, on the slain Lamb.
spotlight on the impact this experience had on him. While God’s vulnerability is the matrix of human freedom. Freedom is
reading this chapter and the one that follows, which concludes basic to creativity. Not surprisingly human freedom is a prime
the narrative (chapter ten); it becomes amply clear that for concern for the Creator. The Lamb is slain only ‘to set the
Thirumeni the ‘new fire’ had a profound resonance. This captives free’ (Lk. 4: 18).
reminds us of Moses’ experience in Midian, when the angel of
the Lord appeared to him- Consider this analogy from the Gospels. Jesus was baptized in
the Jordan by John. As he emerged from the river, Jesus saw
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire the Holy Spirit descend and rest on him in the form and likeness
from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire of a dove. The text does not say if anyone other than Jesus,
it did not burn up” (Exo. 3: 2). Fire is a universal symbol of zeal. including the Baptist, saw this sign of divine significance. The
In the spiritual context, it is zeal bred by purity. Biblical purity is same applies also to the announcement from heaven, “This is
dynamic, not static. It denotes a mighty presence, not an my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3: 16, 17). We
absence. Fire, in this sense, is as much within as it is without. have good reasons to believe that this was a privileged vision
(What sense would ‘puthen theei’ -or any fire- makes to a exclusive to Jesus. To that extent, this remains vulnerable to
church like the one in Laodicea? (Rev. 3: 15-16). This is obvious skepticism on the part of scholars who rarely realize that their
in the case of Moses. He saw the burning bush, and it spoke to intellectual tools and thought categories are irrelevant to realities
him in a transformative way to a missional effect, because the of this order.
fire kindled something within that was ready to burn and glow. It
is the missional link between the fire out there in the bush and Now consider the predicament of Jesus. His vision was more
the fire within Moses that saves the bush from getting gutted. real to him than everything else in the context. Even so, he did
not draw the attention of anyone to it, even for the sake of
Such fire is also the fire of self-realization: the sudden and authenticating its veracity. What does he do, then? He believes
blazing awareness of the unearthly purpose underlying the in it firmly, passionately. He stakes his life on this vision. He
earthly existence of human beings. In the case of Moses, the fire abandons himself passionately to incarnating it with the whole
did not consume the bush; but it was, nonetheless, an all- of his life. It is not inappropriate to consider this as a
consuming fire. What this fire consumes, or buns out, are not Christological parallel to Parumala Thirumeni’s “new fire”
bushes in nature, but the fetters in culture that hold us back experience. When it comes to fire, hearing will not do. It needs
from taking the plunge when called into partnerships by God. to be seen. But, to see, in a spiritual sense, is also to become.
Human beings experience life in all fullness in course of being Zeal ensures that we become what we see.
sent out in missional partnerships. God calls us out of our
confinement to the partial, and leads us to the fullness, or This too makes us revisit Moses in Midian. He was not a mere
wholeness, of life. Godly partnership is empowered freedom. spectator to an uncommon fire. Because he saw the puthen
theei, he became a ‘new fire’. That fire manifests itself, yet
This explains why “putten theei” -new fire- will not stay confined again, in the course of the people’s long march to freedom
behind barred doors as a hostage to anyone. Fire is no spread over forty years in the wilderness. In the spiritual

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architecture of the Exodus narrative, the appearance of the pillar journey. All of our earthly life is, must be, a preparation for our
of fire is a logical necessity. Through the pillar, fire spreads from return journey. Jesus, we believe, is the Way for that journey
the individual and connects to the people. But ‘puthen theei’, too. He is the putten theei that illumines our path that merges
whether it is in the case of Moses or of Thirumeni, could have with eternity.
been only a profound personal experience. What is ‘fire’ at the
personal level becomes ‘light’ in the life of the people. We say, So far, I have argued against the unwitting disservice in treating
‘there can be no smoke without fire’. More importantly, there Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam primarily as travel literature (sanchara-
can no light without fire. Why do I underline this? sahityam). Now is the time for me to agree with the literary
geniuses and scholars ranged on the other side, whom I can
Today, the Christian community is obsessed with numbers. This mention only with boundless respect. I agree with them on the
is a clear and alarming sign that the ‘pattern’ of the world (ref. value and need for literature that ennobles, and empowers what
Rom. 12: 1-2) has overpowered us. Whether it be in the sphere is good and godly in every human being.
of politics, or of art, or of religion, prestige is measured in terms
of numbers. The size of the crowds attracted, not the sense of The Christian predicament at the present time is riddled
the business transacted, matters. The significance of a church especially by two maladies. We are alienated from the Word.
depends on the scale on which it is constructed and the amount Second, we don’t have a lively Christian literary tradition that
of resources it consumed. Indian democracy has already shifted caters to human enrichment and spiritual up building. The
its foundation from ‘we, the people’ to ‘we, the crowds’. At the Christian community has contributed several men and women
level of crowds and towers, there may be conflagration, but not of merit to the evolving Malayalam literary tradition: from
‘puthen theei’. Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar (whose Varthamaanapusthakam
(1795) stands out, according to Puthenkavu Mathan Tharakan,
Parumala Thirumeni did not go to Jerusalem because as an epic in the genre of travelogue), to Sarah Joseph, who
thousands were thronging there. He went there, because it was established pennezhuth, or feminist writing, on a pedestal of
associated with One Man. All that mattered to him was the one- respectability in Malayalam literature.
to-one rendezvous. Fire symbolizes the spiritual vitality that
blazes at the meeting of godly souls. More than ever before, it is But Kerala Christian community, for all its multi-faceted
now critically important for the Christian community to regain attainments, has remained, despite the early lead provided by
this ‘personal’ and fiery dimension in the experience and Parumala Thirumeni, in a prolonged slumber vis-a-vis spiritual
practice of faith. creativity. Missionaries from the west, overcoming formidable
cultural and linguistic barriers, did a commendable job in laying
We acknowledge and revere Thirumeni as a fiery ascetic. Being the foundations, which have remained in comparative neglect.
alone with God is the quintessential strength, the signature One of the many reasons for this, I venture to suggest, is that
bliss, of an ascetic. An ascetic may not despise company or we failed to heed the message embedded in Urslem Yaatra
shun crowds. But he is not defined by either. He knows that Vivaranam. Especially, the concern writ large over the distinction
puthen theei is strictly between him and God. But, because God that Thirumeni makes between hearing and seeing. We
loves the world (Jn. 3: 16), this puthen theei becomes light for expended all our energies on the ‘hearing’ part of our footprint
the world God loves. The Jews would have neither emerged on the cultural landscape of Kerala. We remained smug and
from the land of slavery, nor seen the pillar of fire in the indolent, our ears ever-craving for an incessant feast of
wilderness, had Moses not encountered, and become, the proclamation. We rivaled and outstripped the rest of the world in
puthen theei in the Midian bush. the magnitude and plenitude of crusades and conventions. We
luxuriated in hearing and abandoned ourselves to a cataract of
No fire can be ‘puthen’ or new, so long as it stays confined to resounding, but transient, words.
secured spaces of social prestige. Fire that does not break out
and impact the world around is no fire. Parumala Thirumeni We have been remiss in not developing the ‘seeing’ side of our
went as a pilgrim to Jerusalem and returned as puthen theei, or spiritual heritage. We have ceased to be a writing and reading
new fire, himself. This is the defining aspect of his ‘travelogue,’ if community in respect of spiritual literature. Luminaries like
indeed we must treat it as one. Metropolitan Paulose Mar Gregorios, M. M. Thomas, P. D.
Devanandan, Fr. Kappan, and Fr. Ryan and so on, did their best
This makes me wonder. What is the most significant part of this in developing intellectually challenging and spiritually nourishing
journey: going to Jerusalem, or returning from Jerusalem, with Christian literature. We let them be voices crying and dying in
one’s heart aglow with the new fire? If you are trapped in the the wilderness. We did worse; we excused ourselves from the
travelogue paradigm, it is the former. If not, it is the latter. In a duty to ‘seek’ the treasures hidden in the Word. Isn’t it
literary sense, Thirumeni’s adventurous outing ended in May astonishing that more than a century ago, Parmalat Thirumeni
1895. But his pilgrimage came more into itself only thereafter. was mindful of this danger? He was ahead of his times. He is
His Urslem Yaatra continued to his last breath. ahead of our times as well.

This makes us ask, what does it mean for us to believe that we It is not necessary that we go to Jerusalem, or to any other
are pilgrims on this earth? Well, it means at least two obvious pilgrim destination, in order to ‘see’. We may afford ourselves
things. First, we have come here from elsewhere. The soul that spiritually gainful ‘seeing’ where we are through the Word as
rises here, says William Wordsworth, has had its setting well as the galaxy of printed words readily available to us. What
elsewhere. We did not spring up from mud or spring out of a world of intellectual and spiritual nourishment is available to
apes. Only in respect of our bodies can it be said, “Dust thou us! But have chosen to forsake this Jerusalem for the far
art, and to dust thou shall return.” Second, we have to return country of indolent hearing; hearing without listening. Do we
whither we came. There can be no journey without a return really have to cudgel our brains to realize that, if Parumala

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Thirumeni was not a keen and voracious reader, he would
neither have wished to ‘see’ Jerusalem nor written an “Our Father…”
account, incredibly crisp and concise, of the spiritual (A Poetic Reflection)
enrichment it afforded?

While concluding, let me take note of Paul Manalil’s Rev. Dr. M. J. Joseph, Kottayam
contributions towards making Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam
intelligible and invaluable to all. Comprehensive as his 0 God, creator and sustainer of all
introduction to the book is, and vigorously argued as his The visible and the invisible
case is for recognizing it as the first of its kind, Paul does not The human and the non-human
sufficiently address the question, “Why did Parumala The Father and the Mother of all
Thirumeni take as keen an interest in printing and distributing We acknowledge your love and care
Urslem Yaatra Vivaranam as he did in making his pilgrimage In begetting and nurturing
to the Holy City? Why was he eager to get the community We praise and thank you for your unselfish love.
involved in both? We your children would like to bring a complaint
Against our own fellow humans to whom you gave birth
It is Thirumeni’s zeal in this respect that confirms me in my They urge us to call my neighbours by their nicknames
conviction that he was mindful of the need to nourish and They are really our brothers and sisters
fortify the community of faith with Christian literature of the We all breathe the same air
highest merit. What a pity that this prophetic and pioneering We eat the same food
insight was allowed to be eclipsed by our well-meaning, but We have the same landlord
misplaced, eagerness to secure a niche for Urslem Yaatra Our adversaries try to brain wash our children daily
Vivaranam and its saintly author in the pantheon of Our children do not know any form of division
Malayalam language and literature. They ask them to call our neighbours by their religious
tags
In the early years, episcopal and pastoral letters read out They call them “Hindus", “Muslims", "Buddhists”,
periodically at Sunday services, and heeded with respectful “Sikhs”,
attentiveness by congregations, met this need in part. Much "'non-Sikhs" and likewise.
care and effort was taken in drafting these circulars that What shall we do?
remain, to this day, a felicitous and sober blend of substance We request you to enlarge the chords of their tents
and style, of letter and spirit. Time, however, does not stand We pray to teach them that life lived in love is nobler
still. The domain of culture elaborates its wares and than Sacrifice.
costumes continually. Spirituality does not try to dodge the Lord, we are hungry and thirsty?
challenges this poses, but meets them in its own way and Some of our neighbours go to bed with empty stomachs
out of its own resources. It is the hallmark of a spiritually We are told that there is plenty in the granary
dynamic faith community that it remains alert and responsive We harvest crops in all the seasons
to the changes in the cultural domain and continually equips But we are still hungry!
and resources itself so as to stay steadfast and fruitful. Lord, our adversaries export our goods
They believe in the laws of the jungle
At the present time, especially since the advent of the World 'They are being ruled by the laws of scams!
Wide Web, and the ocean of resources readily available to They defy our right to food
Netizens, as most people are today, we cannot afford to stay We want your rule to come in our midst today.
stuck in the past, regurgitating the banquets of yester years. Teach our adversaries to share your food according to
We need to create a lively tradition of contemporaneously The number of your children
relevant spiritual literature of exemplary merit. It is doubtful if And convict them by your command that life before
anyone can argue convincingly that such a concern did not death is Your wish
underlie Parumala Thirumeni’s undertaking Urslem Yaatra And life after death is Your gift for the obedient ones
and, even more, in bequeathing its classic Vivaranam as a Dear Papa and Mom, there are many in our midst
shared heritage for the Chritian Community in Kerala. The Who tell lies?
author of this splendid piece of spiritual literature was single- They kill and rob others
handedly instrumental in exalting Parumala, till his times an They have no sense of guilt
insignificant sliver of land, to the status of a local Jerusalem. They don't seek forgiveness
We don’t have exact statistics on this; but I won’t be Teach us how to deal with them.
surprised if the number of people who flock to Parumala Our dear Dad and Mom
matches that of those who troupe to Jerusalem. You are really great
You carry the words of eternal life
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who Let us have more of your genes
bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good Let us live daily and die daily
tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God For yours are love, honour and glory forever.
reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7) Amen

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A BLUE PRINT OF THE LORD’S PRAYER
Revd Dr. M. J. Joseph, Kottayam
What is the ground reality today? What about Market
The Lord’s Prayer calls forth a paradigm-shift in mission ethics? In a free market, there is no place for compassion
from diakonia (service) to dikaiosune (divine and sympathy. Consumer values lead us to temptations
righteousness). of various kinds. The human needs are made wants!
Multinational products are even advertised with the
God as our Father – Father of all greeting, “yours temptingly!” The Market forces are
violent, exploitative, manipulative and competitive. How
Believers cannot exclude other people when they say the do we exhibit a human face in the present context?
Lord’s Prayer and address God as “Our Father.” The
prayer embraces the whole creation as God is “the In a selfish world, God is pushed to the periphery. It should be
builder of all things” (Heb.3:4). The Church is called upon remembered that "Christian life is a continuation of the
to remain faithful in God’s oikos (household) (Heb.3:2) as assimilation of the mystery of the cross in the fight against
individual and social selfishness" When we pray, "Give us this
“His co- workers” (1 Cor. 3:9- tou theou sunergoi).
day our daily bread," there is a universal groaning of the spirit
for equitable distribution of wealth (food) "Bread for me is a
The God of the Bible is a God in relationship. “God- material problem, bread for my neighbour is a spiritual problem
world” relationship is clearly brought out in the theme of is indeed a statement of spirituality. The word (logos) of
the 9th and the 10th Assemblies of the WCC. The reference reconciliation and the ministry (diakonia) of reconciliation, as St.
to the Fatherhood of God is not about the sexuality of the Paul puts it in 2 Cor. 5:18-21, have to become the means of
godhead, but of God’s caring attitude to all living beings. making people "the righteousness of God (v.21)". Compassion
The world is not organized around Caesar, but under one and concern are words of the human heart. That which is
God of creation. concerned with the cave of the heart transcends the boundaries
of any divide.
The reference to “Kingdom” in the Lord’s Prayer provides
2. Forgiveness - fatherhood and brotherhood
ethical and spiritual norms for action.
combined
1.A celebration of a new sense of consciousness-
In a Tsunami stricken area in Tamil Nadu, India, in 2004, we are
the Table fellowship of Jesus speaks of
told that it was a Muslim priest who took the initiative of burying
transcending the boundaries of caste and religion the dead bodies of Hindus with a word of prayer. No religious
and even prejudice. divide separates people in times of crisis. A group of Sikhs
came all the way from Hariyana and Punjab to Nagapatanam in
2.A new sense of relationship among the family of Tamil Nadu to make Chapatis for the dying dalits and their
God- “the other” is not an object, but a subject to surviving family members! A gesture of compassion and
be loved and restored. forgiveness, transcending the boundaries of religion has been
demonstrated. The term 'forgiveness' is being used in the
3.A new norm of faith and praxis - rooted in love vocabulary of Economics when we speak of "debt forgiveness."
and justice as the community of the faithful is
The Lord's Prayer speaks the language of compassion and
addressed as “the aroma of Christ” to God (2 forgiveness. An ecumenical spirituality is bound up with all that
Cor. 2:16). life offers. God's concern is not simply for judgement, but of
healing human brokenness. Healing of memories does not mean
1. Sharing bread is an act of compassion forgetting. It simply means that memories are no longer toxic. It
is remembering in a different way. In forgiving one establishes a
Reference to bread makes the prayer universal, and the different relationship to the perpetrator. The perpetrator is seen
whole created order is also brought under it. Food is the as a deeply wounded man/ woman who also need a healing
touch and redemption. The region of God on earth is to blossom
substance of alienation. 20% of the people in the world
into a community of people, caring for nature, forgiving each
consume 80% of the world’s resources. Food symbolizes
other and praising God for the gift of divine providence. In
human dignity and human survival. this respect the Lord's Prayer speaks of an action plan for all.

The Eucharistic prayer is a reminder of God’s providential The recital of the Lord's Prayer challenges us to move
care, which is not limited to human beings. In the from the realm of creed, code and cult to the sphere of
Eucharist, the bread and wine-fruits of the earth and of spirituality. What is required today is less of religiosity, but
human labour - are presented to God the Father, in faith more of spirituality. It is not how many times we recite the
and thanksgiving. The world is "to become an offering Lord's Prayer in worship, but to what extent does it lead
and hymn of praise to God." It is nothing but the us to a genuine relationship in God's one world.
Kingdom of justice, love and peace in the Holy Spirit.

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CHURCH – A PRAYING COMMUNITY (Mt. 6:1-9)
Revd Dr. Abraham Athyal

[It is part of a series of ‘Reflections on Lectionary Themes’ (koinonia) in the body of Christ? Because there is one
by Revd Dr. Abraham Athyal. The following sermon note bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake
is prepared for Sunday, January, 2018. It would be helpful of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16f).
to refer to the following verses: Gen. 18:19-33; 1 Pet. 4:7- ‘Koinonia in the blood’ points to the new covenant
16; Jas. 5:13-18; Mt. 6:1-9.] signified by the cup at the Last Supper (See Lk. 22:20; 1
Cor 11:25) – a new relationship with God. But what does
Church is defined here as a ‘Praying Community’. The ‘koinonia in the body of Christ’ mean? Importantly, Paul
idea is that prayer is an essential characteristic of the says, it points to the ‘oneness’ of the church – a new
Church. As a faithful community we live in an atmosphere relationship with one another.
of prayer. We are sustained by prayer. We grow in prayer.
We reach our destination through prayer. Mutual Confession of Sins:
‘Community’ means ‘a group of people having a Normally, it is our tendency to limit our confession to a
particular characteristic in common’. What is our ‘General Confession’ in the church. But there is more to it
commonality, as far as prayer is concerned? It is our faith than that. Consider the following:
in a God with whom we can communicate. So we can be
‘in communion’ with him – that is what prayer means. (1) How much does our General Confession reflect a
penitent heart? Preparation for Holy Communion involves
Where Two or Three Are Gathered: self-examination and repentance at home. That alone can
authenticate our General Confession at worship in the
Basic to our communion with God is the awareness of his church.
presence. Prayer becomes as meaningful as the depth of
that awareness. Church is the very ‘body of Christ’. It (2) A praying community should be a community willing to
implies his real presence with us. We don’t need to go in confess their sins to one another. As we read in Jas. 5:16,
search of it. We only need to realize it. (Cf. ‘Emmanuel’, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one
Mt. 1:23, 28:20). another...” That is needed even for your healing, says
James.
In the context of a teaching on prayer Jesus says, “Where
two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the Which is more difficult? To forgive the offender (as I look
midst of them” (Mt. 18:20). J.B. Phillips’ translation is at the other person), or to admit my own mistake? More
better: “Wherever two or three people come together...” often than not, it is the latter. It is easy to say, “I have
nothing against him”. But what if he has something
God’s universal presence enables us to pray with against me? Am I ready to look into the matter with a
confidence knowing that God cares for each one of us sincere heart and see if it is my fault, and if so confess it
individually and for all. That knowledge gives an to him? That is what Jesus said, “If you remember that
additional fortification for our intercessions. A prayer of your brother has something against you, leave your gift
William Barclay: “O God of mercy, who so cares for me as there before the altar and go; first be reconciled” (Mt.
if you have none else to care for, yet cares for all even as 5:23-24). Reconciliation involves the willingness both to
you care for me, I commend to you my own needs but forgive and to confess.
also the needs of all this world of men to which I belong.”
(A Diary of Private Prayer). According to M.M. Thomas, the church is a koinonia
based on divine forgiveness in Christ and manifested
How deep is this awareness in us when we pray? visibly in the spirituality of the Lord's Supper and
extended in some kind of mutuality in congregational life.
Worship: A Solemn Occasion of Prayer: He says that divine forgiveness offered in Christ is deeply
social in character. (The Gospel of Forgiveness and
Communion with God may be either private or public. Koinonia, ISPK &CSS, 1994, p.2) Peter’s instruction to
Worship is a public prayer – being in the presence of God “Keep sane and sober for your prayers” is immediately
as a community. Though there are several different followed by a command to “hold unfailing your love for
elements in worship, the whole of it including the sermon, one another, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet.
must be considered as a solemn occasion of prayer. We 4:7f.)
not only offer petitions, but also listen to his word, which
speaks to us. Prayer is a mutual communication between
How Not to Pray:
God and us. It is not a monologue.
The Lord’s Supper is the central act of our corporate Our text gives some cautions regarding public prayer.
prayer. It is ‘Holy Communion’ – communion both with
God; and with one another, bringing together both the (1) Desire to impress others
vertical and horizontal dimensions of our life in Christ. Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before men
Paul’s words are significant: “The cup of blessing which in order to be seen by them” (Mt. 6:1). The Greek word
we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the blood of translated here as ‘piety’ is dikaiosunē ((justice,
Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation righteousness, correctness, one’s own dharma. . .) Your
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devotion to God is required and is good. But it is not to Government of India Decorates the Emeritus
be rehearsed for an advertisement. The motivation is
important. If it is to impress others, you are already Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church
getting your reward, says Jesus. Only that it has ceased
to be a communion with God.
(2) Hypocritical prayer
Hypocrisy is feigning to be what one really is not. You are
not what you appear to be before others. The remedy is
to enter into a period of self-examination, “Go into your
room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in
secret” (Mt. 6:6). Pray to God who sees you in secret for a
transformation of your inner nature.
(3) Meaningless repetitions
“Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for
they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
(Mt. 6:7). Avoid prayers that carry no meaning; avoid
useless repetitions.
Paul says that as we pray with inspiration we should pray
“with the mind also” (1 Cor. 14:14 NEB). Liturgical
worship is a blessing. But it can become a meaningless
exercise. One of the benefits of Church Reformation in
Kerala was that people were freed from unintelligible
prayers in Syriac. Unfortunately some leaders today are
interested in reverting the process. There are also groups
who repeat the same words or phrases over and over
until everything degenerates to unintelligible confusion.

Prayer of the Kingdom Community


“Pray like this”, Jesus said as he taught the disciples how
to pray (Mt. 6:9). The so- called Lord’s Prayer is a model
Family Prayer. We are a kingdom-centred community. Cf.
Rev. 1:6. So we pray “May your kingdom come...Thine is Mar Chrysostom Valiya Metropolitan Thirumeni Receiving
the kingdom”. God is King, of course. But God is also Padmabushan award from President of India in New Delhi
‘Our Father’. We pray for and on behalf of all his children
– our brothers and sisters. Notice the plural pronouns, The Diaspora Mar Thomamites and Christian Community worldwide
‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’. Selfish desires and petitions are thank our Lord for the honour conferred on the Emeritus Metropolitan,
excluded. Are we not guilty of selfish praying too often? Most Revd Dr. Mar Chrysostom Valiya Metropolitan, by the Government
of India. This award of ‘Padmabushan’ is very rarely given for religious
leaders for being a ‘Secular Democratic Republic’ country. Previously,
Conclusion: such an award was given to Mother Teresa. Mar Chrysostom was given
Church is a praying community. But our prayers should this award in recognition of His Grace’s amazing work as a great
spiritual leader in uniting the whole country of 1.3 billion people and
encompass the entire family of God. Prayer life is based
upholding constitutional and universal human rights of every person.
on the realization of our solidarity with all men and women
before God, both in sin and in divine forgiveness. Guard Charles Kingsley, who was a19th century Church of England priest,
against prayers becoming nothing more than a ritual. philosopher and poet, wrote about his interactions with nature in the
While using a liturgy concentrate on the prayers. Say following way, “I was aware that I was immersed in the infinite ocean of
what you mean, and mean what you say. Praying in God.” The success and longevity of Mar Chrysostom is entirely due to
secret before the One who sees us in secret is a his ‘immersion in the infinite ocean of God’ and through his everyday
corrective to hypocrisy and mere ritualism. Praying in interaction with people of every age, culture, faith groups and political
ideologies because he has a God-given ability to sense the presence of
public should not become a substitute for spending time God in human situations and interactions as mentioned above. For him,
alone with God in private prayer and meditation. the mission of the church is God’s mission (mission die); it is not
Editor’s Note: Retired Professor of building walls, but breaking them down so that Christians could
welcome and embrace the strangers, ‘the other’. He has been a beacon
New Testament at: United Theological of light and a source of wisdom and is ‘lighted to lighten’. May that light
College, Bangalore; Bishop’s College, continue to shine on us and encourage us to do God’s mission. He is
Calcutta, Mar Thoma Theological the most blessed man on earth, and we celebrated his birth centenary in
Seminary; Kottayam, Gurukul Lutheran last April. He is indeed a blessing from God through him we are blessed.
Theological College, Chennai. He is indeed ‘immersed in an ocean love’ of people of all ages, of castes
and creeds. Let us individually and collectively say to Mar Chrysostom,
‘thank you for offering your whole life for our spiritual growth and
mentorship’.
FOCUS EDITORIAL BOARD
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Pearls of Wisdom Down Through the Ages-8 Book Review: The Unshakable Kingdom and the
The Power of Prayer - St. John Chrysostom** Unchanging Person
E. Stanley Jones
[**St. John Chrysostom (c 347-407), Archbishop of (Initially printed in 1972 and reprinted by the E. Stanley
Constantinople, was a significant Early Church Father. He is Jones Foundation in August 2017)
known for his legendary eloquence in preaching. The following is
from his Homilies on St. Paul’s Second Letter to Corinthians. ]

God is often won over by the importunity of a number of people


praying together in unison of mind and voice. We should
therefore be eager to meet for prayer and to pray for each other
as the early Christians prayed for the apostles. In this way we
shall fulfil the commandment, and be stimulated to love; and
when I say love, I include under that heading everything that is
good. We shall also learn to be more earnest in thanksgiving.

If men give thanks for the blessings given to others, they do so


even more for what they themselves have received. This was the
case with David, who said: “come, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us praise his name together.” It is what the apostle urges
in all his letters and it should be our practice also. Let us
proclaim God’s blessings to all, so that we may gain
companions in praising him.

If whenever we experience anything good at the hands of men


our praise fills them with renewed zeal, we may be sure to To think that God not only offered us himself in the
declare God’s benefits will increase his favours towards us all person of Jesus Christ, but also offered us His Kingdom,
the more. And if when we have been well treated by men we
a master plan for the our lives and our world—this is fact
urge others to join us to thanking them, surely we should show
and E. Stanley Jones reflects with depth and precision on
even more enthusiasm in leading as many people as we can to
give thanks to God on our behalf. St. Paul enjoyed confident the implications of this gift. This Kingdom master plan is
freedom of speech before God, yet this was his practice; how not something that we ‘build,’ for it has been built into the
much more it should be ours. framework of the world, and what’s more, as a gift.
Jones writes:
Let us therefore entreat the saints to give thanks on our behalf,
and ourselves do the same for each other. This greatest of all A note of warning must be uttered against the idea of
good works is a task that belongs especially to the priesthood. "building the Kingdom." The New Testament never tells
When we approach God, we first give thanks to the whole world us that we are to build the Kingdom. We are told to "see,"
and the good things we share in common – for each of us to "enter," to "receive," and to "proclaim" the Kingdom,
receives God’s gifts in common with others, even our own
but never to build it. What is the difference? The
personal salvation. We should render thanks to God together
with others, therefore, for our own particular blessings, and difference is profound and far-reaching. For if we are to
praise him in private for the blessings that are common to us all. build the Kingdom, then it is something that we bring into
The sun does not shine for one person alone, but for all life, something that we produce. But the Kingdom is
together. Although part of the sun is visible to each man, he already in existence; it is a fact, so it is something we
sees it as a whole; indeed it was precisely for the common good "receive."
that it was made so large. It appears the same size to one man
by himself as it does to all. The consequence to be drawn is that We are to build the Church, but not the Kingdom, for the
each personally owes a great debt of gratitude to God as all Church is a relativism built more or less after the pattern
men collectively, and it is only fitting that we should also give of the absolute, the Kingdom of God. The idea of building
thanks for the shared gifts and for the integrity of other people’s the Kingdom comes out of misplaced idealism—that the
lives.
Kingdom of God is an ideal. This idea is deeply
Often blessings we receive are due to others. If there had been embedded in our modern Christian thinking and must be
only just ten men in Sodom, it would not have suffered; it would rooted out at all costs if we are to make progress.
not have suffered the fate it did. So let us give thanks too for the
freedom and confidence that others show to God, for this is an Written when Jones was 87 years of age, this book is
ancient rule of conduct which the Church adopted from the Jones’ capstone statement of his theology. The Kingdom
beginning, and which St. Paul put into practice when he prayed of God fomented a revolution in Jones’ life that sustained
for the Romans, the Corinthians, and for the whole world. him throughout his life-long ministry. He said, “I see now,
as I have never seen before, the eternal fitness of the
*Collected by Dr. Zac Varghese from ‘A Word in Season’ edited by
gospel – it fits the soul like a glove fits the hand, It is the
Henry Ashworth O. S. B, Vol II, and Lent Pat I, P 247-248, The Talbot
Press Dublin, 1974. way we are made to live, and to try to live some other
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way is not only foolish, but it is also impossible. You
cannot live against life and get away with it.”
An Eco-Liturgy
Rev. Dr. M. J. Joseph, Kottayam
Jones continues, if Jesus made the kingdom of God the
center of his message and the center of his endeavor, Water in a glass and soil in a mud pot are kept in front of a
then the greatest need of man, as I see it, is to rediscover lamp stand as eco-symbols. Four people representing the
the Kingdom of God. Man needs nothing so much as he four corners of the earth light the lamp, chanting the great
needs something to bring life together into total meaning Upanishadic hymn “Asatoma Sat gamaya… “The
and total goal. Life for the modern man in East and West worshippers are then asked to maintain a moment of
needs something to give total meaning to an otherwise silence reflecting on sky, earth, air, water and fire, the
fragmented life. Modern man needs absolute from which elements of the panchabootha.
he can work down to the relativism of the day, a master
light of all his seeing. Modern man is being pushed, 1) Call to Eco-Consciousness (The leader reads the
pulled, beckoned, enticed and bludgeoned form all following leaving space for silent reflection)
directions. He is being pushed from relativism to i) Psalm 19.1:
relativism. He is confused – the most confused, and yet The heavens are telling the glory of God; and
the most intelligent person that ever existed. Modern the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
man knows everything about life, except how to live it. ii) Psalm 65.1, 9-12:
Both pastors and laypersons are enthusiastic about this Praise is due to Thee, O God...
book and its message. This book is simply a must-read You visit the earth and water it...
for every pastor! Through Dr. Jones’ profound words, I You provide the people with grain...
realized I had missed the Gospel according to Jesus. I The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
had settled for a Gospel that wasn’t good and not really The hills gird themselves with joy.
news. To trust we have received an unchangeable Christ iii) The Lord said to Job:
and an unshakeable Kingdom is the very definition of Have you descended to the springs of the
Good News and is the key to living victoriously in the 21st sea or walked into the unfathomable deep?
Century! Read this book and you will never be the same. Have you comprehended the vast expanse of
Jeff Gannon, Senior Pastor, Chapel Hill United Methodist the world? (38:16, 18)
church, Wichita, Kansas iv) The Seer of the 7th century A.D.
prayed:
In reading E, Stanley Jones, you read not only history but O Earth, my mother, Air (wind) my father, 0
about that which is always contemporary and ultimately Fire (light) my friend; Water my kinsman,
eternal. Ron Crandall, E, Stanley Jones School of World Space my brother, here do I bow before you
Mission and Evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary, with folded hands (From the Vairagyashataka
Wilmore, Kentucky of Bhartrahari).
v) Neil Armstrong, while landing on the
Not many authors can bride the cultural divide from one Moon at the Sea of Tranquility on
generation to the next. However, you will see that the
July 21, 1969 uttered words of
concepts Jones presents are universal. They are just as
relevant today as they were when this book was written. ecstasy: "Big, Bright and Beautiful."
This book will lead you on a magnificent journey to an vi) Eco praise. Ezra said:
ever-increasing knowledge of God’s order and God You are the Lord, you alone; you have made
Himself. E. Stanley Jones brings wisdom as he reveals heaven, the heaven of the heavens with their
eternal Spiritual truths. Duane V. McNett, McNett Press, entire host, the earth and all that is on it, the
Bellingham, Washington seas and all that is in them. To all of them you
give life, and the host of heaven worships you
The E. Stanley Jones Foundation is in the process of (Neh. 9:6).
reprinting several of Jones’ books. In partnership with vii) Looking at: "A Seed" (Each of the
the Methodist Publishing House, we plan to have all of E. worshippers holds a seed in the palm
Stanley Jones’ books back into print (and available of his/ her hand)
electronically) by 2025. For more information about this The following prayer is said by all:
effort, please visit the Foundation’s web site – A seed is not a weed
www.estanleyjonesfoundation.com A weed looks like a seed
Between the seed and the weed, life sprouts.
This 21st Century edition of The Unshakable Kingdom and
A seed looks for a resting place
the Unchanging Person is available for purchase from
A place of silence
www.amazon.com and www.createspace.com
An abode in the womb of the Mother Earth.
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O seed, you are a miniature world I am the color of health and strength. I carry all the most
Your patience makes you great important vitamins. Think of carrots and pumpkins, oranges,
Your humility to cling to the Mother's bosom mangoes and papayas. When I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset,
my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to
protects you
any of you.
Your urge to resurrect makes you immortal.
Red shouted out:
May your inherent power be the source of I am the ruler of you all, blood, and life’s blood. I am the color of
life on earth danger and bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I am the
May your turning to the Sun color of passion and love; the red rose and poppy.
Make us humble. Purple spoke with great pomp:
May your willingness to die I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops
Be a lesson for us to live forever. have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom.
People do not question me. They just listen to me and obey.
(The worshippers sow the seeds into the soil, kept in a Indigo was keeping silent, but could not hold any further:
Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice, but
bucket saying, "May you grow hundred- fold for God's
without me, you all become superficial. I represent thought and
glory) reflection, twilight and deep waters. You need me for balance
and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.
viii) Responsive Reading - Psalm 104:5- Narrator:
14 And so the colours went on boasting, each trumpeting its own
ix) Listening to the Eco-music glory. The quarrelling became louder and louder suddenly there
(recorded). came a flash of brilliant white lightning; thunder rolled and
"Thank you Lord," by Jim Reeves boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. All the colours
x) Eco-sermons crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for
comfort.
Sharing of eco-thoughts upon the objects
The Rain Spoke:
such as grass, flower, fruit and leaves kept in You foolish colours, fighting among yourselves; each trying to
a tray before them dominate the rest. Do you know that God made you all? Each
xi) Eco-benediction (1) for a special purpose, unique and different. God loves you all.
"May every creature abound in well-being and Join hands with one another and come with me. He will stretch
peace; May every living being, weak or you across the sky in a great bow of colours, as a reminder that
strong, the long and the small he loves you all. You shall be a sign of hope for tomorrow.
The short and the medium sized, the mean Narrator:
and the great And so when God used a good rain to wash the world, he put
the rainbow in the sky with all the colours staying harmoniously.
May every living being, seen or unseen, those
When we see it, let us remember to appreciate one another.
dwelling far off,
Those nearby, those already born, those (Based on an Indian Legend by Anne Hope, 1978)
waiting to be born May all attain inward
peace"(A Buddhist prayer). Ecological Affirmation by all towards the
xii) Celebration of Ecological Diversity in establishment of Vasudaivakudumbakam
God's Order of Creation (The story of We are birds of the same nest
the rainbow*) We may wear different skins
Narrator: We may speak in different tongues
Once upon a time, all the colors in the world started to quarrel. We may believe in different religions
Each claimed that she was the best, the most important, the We may belong to different cultures
most useful, the favorite. Yet we share the same home - Our earth.
Green said: Born on the same planet
I am the most important. I am the sign of life and hope. I was Covered by the same skies
chosen for grass, trees, and leaves. Without me all the animals Gazing at the same stars
would die. Look at the countryside and you will see that I am in Breathing the same air.
majority. We must learn to progress together happily
Blue interrupted: Or miserably perish together;
You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the For man can only live individually
sea. It is water that is the basis of life and this is drawn up by But can only survive collectively (from the Atharvav
the Sun from the blue sea. The sky gives space and peace and Veda).
serenity. Without my peace there would be no fun. xiii) Ecological Benediction-II
Yellow chuckled: (The participants of the worship service are given flower
You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into seeds as mementos).
the world. The Sun is yellow. The Moon is yellow. The Stars are
yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world May you carry the seeds of faith, hope and love and
starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun. sow the divine seeds in the Creator's fields.
Orange began to blow her own trumpet: All say together: Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu.

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