Posted By : Rev. Dr. George OommenPosted On : March 15th 2018
Epicurus said about life and death: "Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?" That is a very limited or material view of life and death, where life is the only real experience. It also sounds as if there is nothing after death. Of course, it should be said there is nothing more certain except death. But there is more to it.
Biblically there are two types of deaths. One is that occurs while we are still alive. There we do not live a life in integral relationship to God and God's plan. This is a separation from God in our own time and space which God had created for us. You are virtually 'dead' even when you are alive. [Ephesians 2:1]. Perhaps we could characterize it as a life in a death zone.
The passion and death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection make one to live a life under a different dispensation, where we are always on a journey from death to life in our life. St. Paul states it so beautifully; "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ..." [Ephesians 2:4-5].
The second is our natural physical end and the beginning of our spiritual existence.
This lent season is an occasion for us to think about our life and death more intensely under the shadow of the cross.
"Cross: Death of Death" is the theme for this year's Good Friday. We should be able to think about death from the point of view of the very death of death with Christ, giving us a life of hope and meaning beyond death, beyond the grave, and about the eternal peace giving presence with God.
Yours in Christ,
March 1st, 2018
Posted By : Rev. Dr. George OommenPosted On : January 07th 2018
We have begun 2018 with renewing our covenant with God. This is the "New Covenant" that has been inaugurated in Jesus Christ for us. This is a new covenant in love. This is a new covenant in pure grace. This is a universal covenant available in Christ for all to access.
By renewing our Covenant we were reaffirming that we are ready to continuously live a life under this new dispensation in Christ. Thus we pray, O God, our loving Father, since you have called us through Christ our Lord to share in this gracious Covenant, we take upon ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience, and, for love of you, commit ourselves to seek and do your perfect will. We are no longer our own, but yours. Thus, we are committing ourselves to seeking a life of obedience and love.
However, what is crucial in such a commitment is to understand that, the future is unknown and uncertain. So our covenant is for a future that is unknown. It is indeed unknowable. It is there that we come to see the place of God in the whole scheme of our life. Thus, we declare in our Covenant prayer, let us have all things, let us have nothing; we freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. It is a declaration of utter dependence on God and God's plan for us. This is not declaration of passivity and inaction on our part, but a seeking of partnership with God who created us and who knows our necessities and desires and plans. This is not an easy proposition. When it comes to 'future', an awareness about this utter dependence is a good reminder. It is so vital at the beginning of a year.
The motto selected for 2018, Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God who loved us...comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. [2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17], is interlinked to the same thoughts. Our source, in fact the one and only source, for our life, times and work is the empowering and strengthening love of God that we find through our faith in Jesus Christ.
I seek your continued and involved support, which has always been our hallmark, in 2018 too. Let us depend upon God's guidance and direction and graceful presence in the ministry and mission of St. Peter's for 2018. Once again I wish you a blessed and meaningful 2018 to each and every one of you.
Yours in Christ,
January 5th 2018
Posted By : Rev. Dr. George OommenPosted On : December 05th 2017
The Meaning of Advent
May I wish you a meaningful Advent season, first. Because Advent season (starting this coming Sunday, Dec. 3rd) is as important as Christmas season itself. In anticipation of the Christmas season we somehow take Advent for granted sometime. Advent is about a joyful expectation of Christ's coming. Advent is about the preparation for receiving Christ. In the Biblical narrative about Jesus Christ's birth, the joyful expectations of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and John the Baptist's preparations paving the way for christ appear prominently. So let us not forget to prepare our minds, and life itself, to receive Christ Child. Let us receive him afresh, with a sense of newness.
Jesus of History
If only we are prepared to understand Christmas as a historical event we will be able see Jesus of Nazareth, a child born in Bethlehem. Referring to this historical context Luke writes, "In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus..." (2:1)
'Let us go now to Bethlehem'
Further we should ourselves experience the season and event. So, along with shepherds, we should say, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see [for ourselves, afresh] this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us". (Luke 2:15) I hope all us will take that journey during this Christmas and celebrate it with meaning. Let all the celebrations, including our Carol Service, Carol Rounds, Christmas Service and our family celebrations, bring togetherness and love which we have received in and through Christ. Please invite your families and friends for the Christmas Carol Service, with lessons, songs and performance of Children on Dec. 10th. Our guest of honor and speaker will be Rev. Dr. Fennie Hsin-Fen Chang (Vicar, St.Thomas' Episcopal Church, Hacienda Heights.) Please note we will have a special Christmas Service on Dec. 24th during our worship. I also encourage all to prepare for the midnight Covenant Service on Dec. 31st which will enable us to enter into 2018 with thanksgiving.
Wishing you a happy and meaningful Christmas,
Yours in Christ,
Posted By : Rev. Dr. George OommenPosted On : October 07th 2017
Mentally and physically challenged people have always been at the margins of society. In advanced nations there are programs and policies which correct the course of such historical mistakes. Whereas many cultures are still under the stranglehold of traditions that discriminates people with disabilities.
Jesus, and consequently Christians, were at the very center of the correctional attitudes in the questions of how to treat people who are differently abled and bringing them to the mainstream of people's social life.
The lame, the blind and the mentally challenged received Jesus' special attention and they were at the very center of his ministry. His interactions with such people were moments of instruction and learning for his disciples and followers.
First of all, he affirmed their human dignity. Secondly, he reiterated the message that God loves them. Thirdly, he did everything possible to reinstate and rehabilitate them to the society so that they could live in dignity and meaning.
Churches in India and elsewhere have continued this great mission among disabled people. Be part of such mission by your contributions and support. Help our children to treat such persons with dignity. Be courteous and thoughtful when we see and interact with them.
Let me call your attention to October 9th Sunday which will be celebrated across CSI Churches as a Sunday for the Mentally and Physically Challenged.
Our Harvest Festival is around the corner. Please make it a time of thanksgiving and planned giving to the Church. I seek your support and cooperation in the Harvest Festival (October 30th).