Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dr. Curien Kaniyamparambil Archcorepiscopa: “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live I will not leave you”

The inevitable has happened. A revered priest who completed a century on this earth has passed away or rather passed on to paradise. Everyone knew that one day it had to happen and yet the void, blankness and sadness felt is immeasurable. It is but natural that one who is born has to die but when that person happens to be the Archcorepiscopa it is a bit difficult to accept and one is left bargaining with God to change destiny.

Now that Archcorepiscopa Kaniyamparambil leaves behind memories it is also a time to identity what achen wants from us in the course of his final journey from earth. He was a man of faith and a practical man who gave a lot of importance to relationships. He loved to see us during an engagement, wedding, prayer and then hold our hand, ask about news in our lives and look ahead as if showing that he was making the information received settle down into his well oiled brain. The Archcorepiscopa wanted to be loved, affirmed, respected and accepted. But it was never a one way expectation but rather a required minimal requisite from our part for the countless ways in which he loved, affirmed, respected and accepted us. As we visit to see his mortal remains we can touch any part of the bed to keep the spirit of community which binded us with the Archcorepiscopa to be kept alive.

Kaniyamparambil Archcorepiscopa prayed for several miracles to take place in the lives of his congregation. He used the relics with him to touch people and pray for them. He believed that the body and blood of Christ gave life to the lifeless and brought back the dead to life. Many people are not aware that the Archcorepiscopa went to visit a new born baby who was declared dead at birth in one hospital in Thiruvalla. The Archcorepiscopa undeterred and unfazed by the hopeless situation told the family that he would bless the baby with Holy oil. The baby came to life to the joy of the family. Such incidents are many and lot of people have benefitted from the prayers of the Archcorepiscopa. He would be happy to leave behind that legacy of faith among those who are close to him and know him.

Archcorepiscopa Kaniyamparambil would also like people to maintain peace and harmony in their lives. He was known for having a good relationship with priests and people belonging to various denominations and religions. His close friends were priests from other denominations and religions. He never instigated people to commit violence and take revenge. He was willing to forgive and let go and he will expect the same from us. Perhaps it was his scholarly approach which made him such or it was his pastoral foundation which was responsible. Whatever it was he inspires us to do the same. Finding problems in everything is easy. But finding good in everything is a special calling.

Appachen as many called him out of love considering him as their own grandfather and great grand father used his talents to the maximum. He didn’t believing in allowing our talents to be buried underground and letting them stay there. It is interesting that although the church and many of us consider the Archcorepiscopa as a scholar of the church, he did not do so himself. His works are interesting. No work of his was the best he could ever produce but it was the best he could produce on a particular day. Success for him was measured not on the basis of what we had inside us but what we could produce with meager resources. He understood that he was successful not because there were no other priests in the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church but because he took a risk in doing something with whatever less he possessed. He would definitely want us to do the same. He would want us to write with whatever little we possess in the hope that God will transform it into something great and useful for others.

Kaniyamparambil Archcorepiscopa’s life was one which was relentlessly lived in the understanding that each day had a value of its own and yet each day had certain responsibilities to complete. Despite his high stature he kept praying every single day at the appointed time, being also careful to intercede to Mother Mary and several saints. It was his understanding that time would pass only if every single second in the clock arm would tick, which was also our own responsibility in this world. He saw this together with the God given gift to think and plan a sermon, prayer, book or programme. He stayed alive because his mind was more fresh than a youngster, always alert and thinking about various things and permutations in its entirety. He would want us to be thinking beings, looking at the enumerable possibilities of what we can do instead of living resigned to what we assume our fate to be.

When it is time for Elijah to go in 2 Kings 2:1-14, Elisha his disciple says “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” Usually this is what we would want someone who has to go say. But here Elijah knew he had to go but Elisha simply could not let go. He finally gets Elijah’s mantle, which interestingly in modern day usage is also responsibility. He wanted to get double the share of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah replies and says that Elisha has asked for a hard thing. Yet if he sees him being taken up he will get it. The mantle of Elijah falls upon Elisha and he uses it to strike the water and say “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The water parts. This passing away of Archcorepiscopa Curien Kaniyamparambil is not an end but a test of our faith to take up his mantle and see God’s glory being manifested now.

Are we willing to take upon the mantle of Archcorepiscopa Curien Kaniyamparambil? Are we willing to ask “Where is the Lord, the God of Archcorepiscopa Kaniyamparambil?” The blessed man has left behind several disciples and it is our responsibility to rise up to the occasion and work for the church and society. Women and men of the church and all walks of life have been inspired by his life. The Archcorepiscopa knows that it is the time for him to leave as it is decided by God. But can we in our inspirational grief say “As long as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you”? It has been a blessing to know the Archcorepiscopa and I say at this time with all my heart and soul “I will not leave you.”

(The picture was taken on July 23, 2015 with Archcorepiscopa Curien Kaniyamparambil blessing the St. Ignatius JSOC, K.R. Puram, Bangalore with the relic of St. Ignatius Elias III. We bow down before the greatness of this humble father.)

Friday, October 2, 2015

WACC Asia Region meeting Sep 30-Oct 1: Worship order

Violence against women: Violation of Communication rights
Worship order.

Call to worship
For once, let us break free and communicate. Let us shed the inhuman baggage that has prevented us from being one with God and doing God’s will. Many have suffered hopelessness for the simple reason of being different. But aren’t we all different in our own ways? Should we be in conflict just because we are diverse or should we come together under the great umbrella of hope? Come; let us congregate together, to share in this great hope of God. We don’t need to understand it completely, but we need to allow it to express itself in our diverse world.

Opening prayer
God of hope, if we speak, let it be for the fullness of life. If we be silent, let it lead to the benefit of our sisters and brothers. If we walk a mile, let it transform the place we live in. If we sit, let it be a sign against injustice. When we think, let hope transpire. As we write, let words express our desire to engage. In listening, let us try to understand, in touching let us feel the pain and while seeing let us not look away. Our God, our only hope. Amen.

Hymn: Great is thy faithfulness
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

2 Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Prayer of confession (All together)
God of goodness, we have not heeded to your call of helping our neighbour and forgiving those who have wronged us. Instead we have instigated hate and revenge. God of compassion, we have ruined life on earth as you have envisaged it, and have sown enmity between different communities, seeking to make one fight against the other. God of mercy, we have turned into demonic beings hunting for opportunities to destroy relationships of love, meaning and sacrifice. You have taught us many things through others. The love and strength of different communities has crushed our ill-meaning plans of aggression. We come to you totally humbled and enriched by the love that you have expressed through others. Have mercy on us and forgive us. Amen.

God brings us together even in our diversity. Our expressions may vary but God remains the same, a beacon of hope in our hopelessness. When we go astray, God brings us closer to one another again. God’s unending grace is for all who choose to dream and hope, despite the challenges we face. May God forgive our aberrations and help us to accept, declare and proclaim hope to all. Amen.

Bible reading

Affirmation of faith (All together)
We affirm that the creator God created us to live in peace and harmony and to be in dialogue with all. Differences are normal and dialogue is the only way to understand and accept what others are experiencing. Our mandate is to be in constant dialogue and we affirm that the absence of this creates tension and trouble and stands far from what God hopes for.
We affirm that the crucified Lord sought to speak even when remaining silent. Christ’s death on the cross was a reaching out to all who spoke the language of violence and hatred. By preaching Christ we have to also reach out to all within and outside. Our quest for dialogue should be inspired by the cross.
We affirm that the Holy Spirit moves people towards understanding and coming together. In the midst of diversity we understand that the Holy Spirit will move us to stand firm in our commitment to offer hope to the hopeless. Our faith in God transcends all tangible and intangible barriers of discontent from within.
We affirm that there cannot be hope without social justice and that the poor and marginalized have to experience hope first. Hope cannot be for a few but should be for all to feel and experience amidst the diverse contexts of injustice in our world. Hope for a few is no hope at all. Women and men together have to experience hope in its entirety.
We affirm that the communicator God inspires us to be prophetic voices of hope in society. Through strong voices we should accept our call to bring hope and change in our living contexts. The hope of resurrection was visually seen and understood by women who lived in unshakeable hope. They then passed it on to the men who had almost lost it. Amen.

God of love, we pray for communities who have been denied the essence and the means to hope. We pray for those who have been marginalized from the main stream of life and whose existence itself is a day to day struggle. We ask your help for dalits, adivasis, tribals and indigenous people all over the world who are fighting for their land, rights and needs. As they lose hope in the system which is supposed to protect them, we plead you to intervene and restore the hope which is rightfully theirs. We pray that men will change patriarchal expressions of manhood and explore and live the feminineness in them which is as much a gift of God. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of equality and respectfulness, we pray for the equality of women in this world. We pray that women may never be turned away and kept inside their homes because of their gender. May women of all castes, classes and religions in this country and world get the justice they yearn for. We pray for those who have experienced and continue to experience violence. We pray especially for the migrants from Syria and other war torn countries who are crossing over to several countries in Europe. The long and arduous journey across dangerous seas and roads always affect children and women most. We pray for your guidance to stop war and violence and find nonviolent solutions. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of nurture and care, we pray for our children. May they receive their right to full access to education, and may they never be forced out of their innocence at an age which is decided by someone else. Give us the insight and the will to keep and not destroy what they should see and experience. May their new thinking and ideas instill a new found hope in us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of unity, we pray for our world which is diverse and rich in its culture, religion and thought. We pray for those who suffer for believing in their way of life. Let no woman, man or child be discriminated and crucified for choosing their belief or their orientation and how they want to live life in its fullness. May we see hope in ourselves and share this hope with our neighbouring countries and the people of Asia and the world. May women be accepted as they are, not being forced to maintain the status quo of patriarchy but being free to express themselves fully as women, being and living who they are. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

God of knowledge, we pray for the diverse group which has come together for the seminar on the violence against women, a violation of communication rights. Thank you for the deliberations and learning of yesterday. We look forward to another fruitful day of discussions and understanding. May we unlearn the wrongs that we have been committing and relearn and newly learn the life we should live. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

The prayer of hope based on the Lord’s prayer. (All together)
Our hope on earth and heaven, glory to your name. May your true message be proclaimed and followed, in diverse contexts and cultures. Give us the means and opportunities of coming together by way of living communities of faith. Forgive our acts against hope, truth and equality as we forgive those who act against such situations. Lead us not into exclusive and discriminating cultures but make us more inclusive and accepting. For yours are our lives, our existence and our work forever and ever. Amen.

Closing prayer
Information and communication are drastically changing the world we live in. Instead of establishing commonness and solidarity, public communication now tends to reinforce divisions, widen the gap between the rich and the poor, consolidate oppression, and distort reality in order to maintain systems of domination and subject the silenced masses to media manipulation. As we end this worship and gain strength from God, let us take sides with those who have been left out of the main stream. Communication is God’s gift to humanity. Let us understand it in its true sense and be a part of God’s plan for this world. Amen.

May God inspire us to come together in the midst of diverse thoughts and cultures. May Jesus Christ empower us in the midst of confusion and uncertainty. May the Holy Spirit guide us in our efforts to understand and spread justice, peace and hope. The blessings of the triune God be with you all now and forever. Amen.