Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A prayer for entering into the birth of Jesus

Lord God, you loved us so much that you sent your son Jesus to be born, live, die and rise for us. Just when humanity digressed from the right path, you deemed it fit and proper that Jesus came to be born among us. Now we pray dear Lord, to be accepting, courageous, and forth right like Mother Mary. Help us to prepare for the birth of Jesus inside us, to feel the birth pangs and to know the responsibilities associated with it. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit like St. Mary and foresee that the humble will be exalted and the proud will be humbled.
May the birth of Jesus not remain a season but be a time of conviction, commitment and community. Let the lent that we observe be not for personal gain but for Christ to be born in the lives of others just as he has in our life. Help us God to prepare for a start of a time when we remember that Christ is born. May we not stand far but near Jesus, offering our presence and gifts like the shepherds and the Magi. Allow us to watch the light which takes us to where Jesus is, be with us as we walk in pilgrimage to the sites of the birth of Jesus, stopping to be a part of the families on the road and in houses who have accepted Jesus through their lives and convictions. In the name of Jesus, who is born for all of us. Amen. 

Picture courtesy Hanna Varghese, 'God is with us', Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A prayer for evangelists to say

O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come and bless us to start the journey which is tiresome and difficult but which will bring good cheer and happiness to others and us. Help us as we travel, settle down, meet new people and start new churches and congregations. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can go where the Holy Spirit leads and do what the Holy Spirit wants. Teach us to pray, preach and work among the people and communities we go to. May every prayer bear fruit, every sermon bring change and every work help people.
We are ever indebted to you dear God for making us accept Christ and his teachings. Our faith has brought great change and strength in our life. What we are preparing to do is only a way of thanking you for your unending mercies. Let the Holy Spirit instill and keep the fire of mission work burning inside so that no allurement, pressure or unwelcoming environment will discourage us from the work which we whole heartedly wish to do. We pray in the name of Jesus who came and lived in our midst so that we may be saved. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A prayer for evangelization

Gracious God, you have taught us to experience, teach, preach and practice love. Be with us as we read the gospel and practice it in our lives. There are many who having read have not understood, who could not read because of varying circumstances and who will readily read the gospel if given a chance. Even as the world is facing an erosion of good values, justice and peace, we pray for the gospel to reach places it has thus far never been heard or understood. Help us to start and be part of church initiatives of evangelization which seek to convert hearts hardened by hatred, revenge and violence to hearts which seek reconciliation and love.
May the church and we who serve the church preach and teach the gospel in places misunderstood and in contexts misinterpreted. God is love and how can this love be limited to few places in the world. May our thoughts, actions and deeds reflect the conversion experience we have had in Christ and lead us to work for the church, which is the body of Christ. Help us and lead us Holy Spirit we pray in one accord. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wedding sermon

All best wishes to Nithin and Pika on your marriage. May God almighty bless you and fill you with love and patience to start your wedded life with happiness. May the glorious trinity offer you numerous ways of opportunity and togetherness that you will always be protected and guided under the wings of God’s assuring care.

There will be some tension for both of you and it will stem out of the fact that you have to impress others on this important day. Your dress, how you look, what you are doing, will all according to you come under the scrutiny of those here. Although this may be true to some extend this will be forgotten in no time. What you both need to be concerned about is your married life. Marriage is a relationship and not a wedding. A wedding can be called off at any time. A relationship lasts for a life time.

1. Marriage is a Relationship in the form of the trinity
Mathew 19 has Jesus saying that a man will leave his parents and become one with his partner. It suggests the letting go that parents have to practice. Khalil Gibran says "Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you." One must be, so that being is understood. God communicates with God’s self so that humans are created.

If you love somebody it is said, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were. Jesus says " Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matthew 19:4-5)

Always be good to one another because you never know when you need each other. All outward beauty will fade away and what remains will only be the real you. Your relationship gets a church approval today. But the church won’t play out your relationship for you. Marriage more than marital living is marital relationship were you learn to relate and be with each other. This takes a lot of adjustment and understanding. Nithin has to learn more about Pika that even Pika is sometimes unaware of. Pika on the other hand has to learn how Nithin clicks. Priscilla and Aquilla and Joseph and Mary offer viable and credible models for us to follow.

2. Marriage is ministering to one another and as one another.                       
Marriage is ministering to each other and then ministering together to several people. This is not easy as there will be ego clash, difference of opinion and temper flare ups. There should be a letting go so that love is initiated and not forced. The crown which is blessed is a burden and martyrdom to those who feel it that way but it is a blessing and an elevation to those who can accept it so. We are in the business of criticizing the church, all the while forgetting, that we form the church. As a couple you represent Christ and the church. Everyone who comes to you is your sheep and you will have to shepherd to them. That is why it is important to be grounded in your love but to not let that drown you.

Your house is not going to be a house of brick and cement but a house of love where others can come and just be themselves. On the one hand you have nothing to prove as an inter racial couple and on the other hand you have everything to prove as a Christian couple. As Jesus says “This is not meant for everyone.” This also suggests that a marriage is an ordination to greater things. It is an ordination to be the King and Queen, the hosts of your house, making your house a church where people can come and be offered your hospitality.

3. Marriage is the understanding of love
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says  "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor 13:4-7)

We cannot know God without knowing love. God is love. It may take a life time to understand what true love is, it may also take place very quickly. Love is the basis of your marriage because love is God and God is love. If you have love there will never be a problem that you can’t solve. Forget everything else and dwell in the love of Christ offered to you. Pika represents the church and loves Nithin who represents Christ. Nithin on the other hand represents Christ and has to sacrifice himself for the sake of Pika. Your marriage Nithin and Pika is your opportunity to learn the mystery of love. This is a God given opportunity. In a world and country were we face challenges of racial profiling, couples like you should be the example of how we are one as a world and we can live the true gospel of Christ. Christ was neither a Malayali nor a Naga and yet we love him immensely. Christ has several faces and we represent one or more of them.

Love is not easy but is a wonderful feeling. Following Christ is not easy but is a wonderful feeling. Today Christ is inviting us to take up our cross and follow him, but to follow him in and through love. Amen.

(Excerpts from the sermon preached during the wedding of Nithin and Pika.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prayer for children

We seek your guidance God to be who we are meant to be and not what we are made to be. We look at you wherever we go not in planned and strict ways, but in freedom and without fear. We understand you in significant ways although others call it childish. Lord Jesus, you understood us so well to even question others during your time and you advised them to become like us and in so doing taught everyone what the kingdom of God is. We do not claim anything because we don’t even know what it is that we should claim. We can’t offer you anything because we don’t have much to offer in the ways of the world. We will not make tall promises of change because we are only learning what this world is. There is only one thing which we can say for sure and that is that we are happy because you have accepted us, just the way we are. We are small, don’t have jobs, don’t own anything and yet you accepted us dear Lord Jesus. We come to your presence knowing that you can make us feel the best. We are thankful for our parents, grandparents, teachers, family and friends. We ask that we may be guided and walked through by you so that however small and insignificant we may appear, we will always be seen with you and in you. Help us to live well and live in abundance with you God. Amen.