Updated Version 2.1- Isn’t Liturgy Meaningless mate?

Now with the unforeseen success with the 2 characters Minjo(Hope u hav not forgotten the derivation formula of his name. if yes here it is {mother}Mini+{father}John={son}Minjo. Wow)and Dan, our cool dude, 2nd yr seminary student Jack decided to have an informal session on Saturday evening with the youth league. Now he pondered over the venue and this time it was definitely not a coffee shop. He was after all not so benevolent enough to treat 13 youths to a coffee that only costs Rs 43. Thank you very much. With consultation with the principal, he decided to call them to the seminary, and listening to the idea, Dan msged the Epiphany Youths, and the 13 miraculously became 7, as the seminary din sound that appealin to some, the girls dropped out, some were not too interested in Worship but had the curiosity similar to goin to the zoo, to get a feel of what are the rare specimens called Seminarians, and how do they look in their habitat. Don’s motivation to go was pure jealousy, as after the last meet of Minjo and Dan made them look very smart with both flauntin their new found knowledge, he(Don) din wanna give the two the advantage of the pleasure of his ignorance. Cutting the long story short, the 7 did arrive at the seminary. Jack definitely basked in this glory as his fellow mates were curious as ‘wats up, what they doin here?’ kinda expression on their face. Well, the delegation settled in at the B.D. 1, Classroom. We will get introduced to the 7 if at all the need be. After talkin bout facebook and the comments on their new prof pic, bout some sitcom, this and that, Jack decided to arrive at the core point. Since we have followed up till the “Holy art thou” part, we will join the portion after that. All ears.

 

Sony(definitely male, as he always had to explain that to people who found it fun to remind him that it is a girls name, 2nd yr mech engg.)- Well chach, I find the part after Kauma very funny. The kurielaeeson, 3 times part. I know it means Lord hav mercy, but why after adoration of God(kauma ‘holy art thou’)?

J. Wel, Sony boy the idea is that after adorin God and his majesty and rememberin his crucifixion, we become aware of our sinfulness(Isaiah 6:1-5 wher Isaiah sees God’s splendor and repents, ‘I am a man of unclean lips) and say Kurielaeeson, Lord have mercy. Interstingly it is said that the early church took this response from the story of blind man Bartimaeus(Mark 10: 46-52) where Bartimaeus became aware of his blindness in the presence of Jesus and said ‘Lord, have mercy upon me’. In greek Lord means Kurios and mercy is Eleeo, and therefore kurielaeeson. We pray the prayer of Bartimaeus, becoming aware of our spiritual blindness. Does that sound greek to u guys?

 

Ajit(a B.A. psychology student and guess what his friends think he can look at ones face and know what they are feeling because he is a Psychology student. Haha)- yeah, that sounds really cool  mate. Interesting. Well I wanna ask why do we read bible, that is the epistle and the gospel in between the worship. Who listens to it? There is bible readin any way?

J . Well Ajit, we have to know that our practices were taken from the Jewish synagogue worship and thank God there was no copyright existin. The synagogue worship had liturgy and ther were bible readings from the first 5 books, the prophets and Psalms. So readin is a continuation in that sense. Did you know that first the bible was read in the context of worship alone as there were no printed copies available? It is only after 1850’s after the translation to Malayalam that personal bible reading started in our church.

 

Minjo- seriously? That’s interestin.

J.  yes. Before reading the Epistle priest says “Accept O lord, our prayers and petitions…”. Priest is callin God to make hearers, that with purity, and holiness we may keep God’s commands. The idea is that we need grace from God to live accordin to his will. And before readin the Gospel, Priest says “Peace be with you”. This means that the Gospel is the good tidings of the peace of Christ, who sets peace among people and the creation, as the angel said to the shepherds ‘Lo I bring you this day good tidings of great joy(Luke.2.10). then he says “ the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ….” Here the life giving Spirit and the role of salvation is emphasized.  Again Jesus  is presented as the Word of life that gives us new life and then the portion is read with reverence and we are supposed to hear it and respond saying, “We thank you Lord you have given us your Gospel……”, so listenin to the portion and following it is an imperative. I guess I will keep it at that.

 

Saju(a guy who loves philosophy and talks about abstract stuff, but parental pressure made him chose computer science. He teaches his teachers philosophy when he fails consequently. He says success and failure is vanity, vanity. Brave) – deep indeed, I will try to listen tomorrow what is bein read. But u know from the portion called Promeon on, I switch off my brain. I am somewhere else. Achen keeps reading long boring stuff. Honestly why do we need that?

J. Boy I have to go to play table tennis at 4. So this should be the last question as it also sums up the first part. As Dan said nothing more than half hour. Right Dan?

D. yeah.

 

J. ok answerin Saju’s question, promeon in greek means introduction. Here the content is “Help us O Lord, our praise and thanksgiving…..”it says that Jesus absolves all our debts and pardon, but we should be penitent. The promis of “Call and I will answer, knock and I will open….” Is affirmed. And then after that we have the Husaya which means Prayer for pardon and peace. It is a confession that is very meaningful and my mom says she is always in tears when she hears that. Honestly I used to be in tears , but out of boredom, but now I listen it up and it is very meaningful.  And then we have the Sedra which means orderly arrangement of prayers. I will stress 5 points to sum up the sedra;

a) Glorifying Lord Jesus Christ by remembering His Incarnation event.

b) The affirmation of the greatness of the Holy Qurbana and our unworthiness to receive it.

c) Prayer for the coming of Holy Spirit.

d) Prayer to enable us to participate with dedication in the Holy Qurbana.

e) Prayer of surrender and dedication.

 

Dan: Ok!! we have Holy Spirit in Mar Thoma Sabha? I am sorry , I am curious.

J: haha. Even I had that question. I will take up that question the next time. Ok , and do you know why we have the Nicene Creed at the end? Anybody? It is affirming our faith before Qurbana. We have faith declaration in 5 Areas;

a) the faith in Trinity.

b) then in the Incarnation of our Lord.

c) faith in One Baptism.

d) faith in the resurrection of believers.

e) and in the Final Judgment.

 

Saju: Let us now collect the offertory.

Minjo: Not funny. Well Jackman we will have this in the youth league tomorrow. What say?

J: sure. I will take you to the Cafeteria and you can have free tea. Haha. Gotta play table tennis. My room is in a mess, can’t take you there or else you will lose all respect for me. Haha

 

Rev Merin Mathew

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Guwahati

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Isn’t liturgy Meaningless Mate?

(Let me start by saying that this question has always baffled and confused me. I have struggled very hard to understand to know why we need this. I have a history that I am not necessarily proud of. I have read novels and books in the church using the order of worship as a shield. So here I am trying to put some light on our liturgy and I will try my best to keep it as interesting and simple as possible. I don’t think anyone will be with me if I elaborately expound it, so I will highlight certain key points of the worship. I Prayerfully hope this will help you in helping you participate in worship meaningfully.)Image

 

We have Jacob, popularly called Jack(why ?) who is a 2nd year student at the theological seminary, and along with him are Minjo(how symbolic a name. Mother’s name is Mini and dad’s name is John, so guess who we have. Malayalis I say, they are genius with names) and Dan who are members of the Epiphany Mar Thoma Church, where cool dude Jack is assigned for Sunday assignment. Jack, took these two youths for a coffee at “Kaapi Kada: Coffee is Just an Excuse(why do I feel I have heard that somewhere)”. Now can you imagine he took them out to talk about worship? These two dudes are here so as not to offend him and to be nice(and who doesn’t like free coffee?). They truly believe that the “Worship order is meaningless”. So after the initial talks about cars and of course girls, Matt dares the two to ask questions pertaining to the structure of Worship. Here, let us hear it.

Minjo- Do we have a structure in here?

Jack- Yes is the answer and it is called the a)Preperatory service or the thooyaba b) Ante-Communion or Pre- Communion, c) Communion.

Thuyaba is where the priest prepares himself for the service. This can be both public and private. There is an order that is followed. But I would not as of now elaborate more upon it.

 

Dan- This Ante-Communion, Communion sounds very funny. I thought the entire service is called Holy Communion. I don’t get it.

J . Frankly even I was unaware of this division. Actually in the ante-communion comes the preparatory service. But I here to make it more pronounced divided it. So the Ante communion is also called the ‘Liturgy of the Word’ as the Epistles and Gospel is read in this section.

‘Shobha Niranja Aleyathil….’ Is the call to the community to participate in this Worship. It affirms the holiness of God and confesses our sinful state and asks God to intervene.

 

M . Dude whats Mary doing in the opening prayer of the priest? Why do we have John in there too? We don’t worship the saints, do we? ( In reference to “Mariyamil nin Shariram Dharikyugeyum…” O Lord Jesus Christ, born of Mary, Baptised by John, have mercy on us)

J . Ok to answer that I will call upon your attention to the fact that the curtain is drawn open in between “Shobha Niranja”. Now why do we need that curtain? It is a symbol. This symbolizes the full revelation of God in Christ. It is here that we remember Mary and John. This prayer calls us to the attention of the incarnation of Christ. So it is Mary’s willing response to God that made the incarnation of Jesus or to put in easier terms, the possibility GOD becoming human in Jesus became possible. John prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus and baptized him. So this prayer remembers the incarnation and the public ministry of Jesus which is significant for our salvation. So, they are remembered as facilitators in the process. Does that make sense?

 

D. Yeah. Kind of. Getting the hang of it. I think this would be my last question for the day as I am just gettin started, it would be an overdose. The HOLY ART THOU part is said three times. What is that all about?

J. yeah, that’s a neat question. Let us remember that ‘Holy Art Thou O God’ in our liturgy signifies Jesus. Here we affirm Christ’s Holiness, Immortality and his Crucifixion. The crucifixion was to save us. “O Thou that was crucified for us have mercy on us” means he was crucified on our behalf. For our salvation. It is said three times for affirmation, so it is called Trisagion. Some claim that this is how you affirm as we see in John 21:15-17, Jesus before reinstating Peter asked him thrice ‘Do you love me’. It is an affirmation on our behalf.

 

M. Ok. Seriously what do you mean by salvation? What is the fuss all about?

A . I will answer you what I learnt from my Principal Rev Dr Abraham Kuruvilla and my friend and guide, Rev Sam Koshy. We have to understand Salvation in the continuation of Creation. God created the world and He saw it was good. God had a purpose in creation. He made man ‘In his Own image’. But man sinned and defeated the purpose of creation. We distorted the ‘Image of God’. As Paul says ‘Image of God’ was completely revealed in Jesus. His crucifixion and resurrection defeated the chaotic forces of death. He showed what God’s image is and showed creation its purpose. Salvation is return of the fallen creation to become the Creation that God saw ‘It was good’. It is also the journey from the distorted image that we have in sin to Grow to the “image of God”, seen in the life, Crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. I guess what Athanasius, the church father said sums it all. “God became man, so that man can become divine.”

 

D . Honestly I dint wanna hear all this. But it kinda sounds interestin. But not anymore today. How about meetin in the weekend. Guess you should call Arpit. But nothing more than half an hour. I seriously don have patience. Bye.

J. Thanks guys for comin over.

M. Dude anythin for free coffee. (Jacob reminded him that he had seen Dil Chahta hai.)

 

 

*Ok guys coming up shortly are answers to questions like “what is the Gospel reading doing in between the service, n so the epistle. Why on earth, the “Kiss of Peace”, “what are the 4 blessings all about”. “Why Bread and wine?” and anything you ask and I can try to answer. Your feedback, no matter what the texture is solicited, as there are 2 more series to come. Also comment on the casual structure adopted, is there anything more to be simplified. I have kept it short as a long article can put us off. Haha. And if you think I am smart since I know all the answers, I would love that you believe so. I am majorly depending on the works of Rev Dr. George Mathew, who is a liturgy specialist.

Rev Merin Mathew

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Guwahati