The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church or the Syrian Orthodox church in India is a church which is entwined in the spiritual-cultural spectrum of India for centuries now. As churches in India are in the process of understanding and even re-discovering their place in the new India, the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church will also have to travel the same direction at some point of time or the other. The new India is not just the India of progress but also the India of discrepancies and discriminations. As the diverse country tries to understand itself, it will also look at the various religious groups in the hope of learning things from them which will help it evolve towards a common good.
What does the church have to say about the equality of humankind, sexuality, poverty, the environment, rights deprivation and economic disparity? There may be a notion among the people of India that this church is an old, strict, limited and wasted communion of people. But there is also a notion that this very church can offer through its theology, spirituality and practice a different message for an India which wants to go full blast along the high road of development. This variance in opinion may even exist inside the church itself. There are those who say that church tradition means that which is unchanging and those who say that tradition evolves with time and therefore does not stand still in the time gone by.
What could be some of the aspects we could learn from? The church gains understanding from the Trinitarian relationship of God, is energised by the communitarian essence of worship which is an unending spiritual and practical expression of believers, is aware of the unseen and unheard which brings about humility into the essence of living, brings in a special concoction of the body and the being and keeps in living memory the special relationship of God, humans and creation. These cannot be explained by members of the church. They can only be lived out. This brings out the need for the Syrian Orthodox church to live out their faith in India. The actual living will express itself in various ways and it would be dangerous to give a hard and fast ruling on this.
The church will have to include others in India in this living out of its faith. This will bring out the struggle to include others into a so far exclusive circle which we have created by the non-living of our faith. Better still we may have to do away with the circle all together or make it a flexible circle which includes all, in opposition to excluding all. The church thus has to be an inclusive, creative and life affirming community of believers. There has to be a coming together of the old and the new. This is the meeting point which the church has to affirm to the people of India. This could be the development model which seeks to conserve for many, rather than destruct in the pursuit of happiness for the few.