Unity is a word used commonly and strongly. Unity of generations, family, community, society and churches. But unity is easier said than done. Diversity is God given and being different is not a sin. Which is why, forced unity can never work and should never be tried.
The priest and the world as he sees it
Fr. Jerry Kurian is a priest, theological educator and public speaker with interests in blogging, social media, theatre, internet ethics, preaching, life skills and leadership training.
Monday, March 6, 2023
Divided we stand!
Sunday, March 5, 2023
My friend's healing is my responsibility
The story of the paralytic is common. We usually think of the paralytic and the bed. The roof and the four friends come in later. So much that we usually design sermons around the “your sins are forgiven” and “rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Yet, St. Mark 2:1-12 contains a very important Christian value called friendship.
Saturday, March 4, 2023
Are you a Christian?
Have we ever wondered how people look at us? It is not that we should always be concerned about this, but rather, it is important and beneficial to know it. How do others see us and how do they see us as a Christian? Do they think that we are truthful, sincere, morally upright and good? Or are we perceived to be the opposite of all this?
Friday, March 3, 2023
A lent to be persecuted
Christians in the early church were persecuted and instead of escaping it, they embraced it. Christians now for hundreds of years look for the opportunity to compromise and escape persecution. Adapting to a particular situation or culture and witnessing to Christ is one thing and wilting under the pressure of a particular culture or situation and compromising on witnessing to Christ is a totally different thing. This lent we need to think about how we have compromised instead of adapting.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Two’s company, three’s a crowd
ded to keep the school afloat, and complimentary passes are given for programmes to ensure that a minimum number of people attend. Political parties also get people to attend their election rallies by offering food and a daily allowance. The crowd determines the success of a programme.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Yes, my child
“Stop acting like a child”, “he is very childish”, “when are you going to grow up?”, are things one hears when one acts immature. The struggle to grow up, to act big, to take on responsibility, are things we strive for from a young age. So much that many grow up too soon.
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
My rich soul
One of the biggest questions a person may have is, “Who does God bless, give to or help? The poor or the rich, the weak or the strong? Ideally we expect God to be on the side of the poor and the oppressed. But what does the gospel say and why?
Monday, February 27, 2023
My enemy has my ticket to heaven!
Forgiving another person is difficult. We have to give up something, go against our ideals, let down others while forgiving one, and learn to handle the feeling of being defeated. Forgiving is also learning to handle our ego without feeling humiliated.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
How I wish!
s one of the biggest curses of society. The stigma of something or the other puts people down and prevents them from coming out in the open. In this case it was the stigma faced due to leprosy. Whether it was leprosy in total or a serous skin ailment is another thing all together. But the person had definitely experienced stigma. Why or how then does he manage to get close to Jesus and ask what he did?
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Wedding sermon for Tanya and Deepak's wedding
Monday, October 19, 2020
Archcorepiscopa Dr. Kaniyamparambil achen: A spiritual father who overcame disabilities
Today is the 5th death anniversary of Archcorepiscopa Dr. Curien Kaniyamparambil achen, fondly known as Kaniyamparambil achen. The Simhasana Church in Thiruvalla, where I now serve, has a long and deep relationship with achen as he touched the lives of several generations of families here. He was a scholar without parallel in the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and respected among people from all denominations and religions. He was known for his scholarship, humility and hospitality. But I would like to touch upon a topic seldom discussed with regard to achen. He was a priest who overcame disabilities, the lack of hearing being primary among them.
Looking back, I feel that we never discuss the struggles and hardships of our ancestors and straight away harp on their achievements as if no struggles were involved or that they were so talented that they did not have to try too much. But achen had to overcome his hearing disability which then expanded to tremor (uncontrollable shaking of hands) and later on to finding it difficult to walk. Our communities want us to believe that priests and ministerial candidates are perfect and should be perfect. Medical check ups before bishop elections are only one example of this. But the most perfect of ministries are done by imperfect men and women and achen is a prime example of that.
I have heard other priests and people making fun of achen’s hearing disability and calling him a mute (pottan in Malayalam, which also has a derogatory meaning of being an idiot). All because he could not hear properly and one had to strain their voice while speaking to him! But instead of being bogged down and faltering under the weight of ill timed and unjustified jokes, he wrote and spoke like a man guided by the Holy Spirit. Many of us learnt to speak for long by listening to him. Achen made his disability into his ability. While we were being influenced by the sounds and temptations of the world, he sat for hours to read and write.
His major achievement of translating the Peshitta Syriac bible into Malayalam was done with these disabilities. He found the strength to overcome his tremor when he wrote and it came back when he had to do something else. He offered hundreds of prayers and services by reading lips and the actions of those around him. For me he has shown that one does not have to be ashamed of their disability but can rather embrace it and make it their biggest ability and asset.
I am reminded of St. John 9:3 where Jesus answers his disciples and says that “neither the man nor his parents have sinned, he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” The St. George Simhasana Church in Thiruvalla is indebted to achen for showing us that we can overcome our disabilities and to know that our disabilities have opened our eyes to see our abilities. There are so many children and youngsters who think that they are not good enough and wont make the cut or mark in an examination or test and that they are not perfect enough as their family and society would want them to be. May God and achen be a source of inspiration so that we never feel bogged down and dejected. We thank God for his life and contributions and pray that several people will get the courage and strength to do their education through achen’s blessed intercession. Dear achen, pray for us, your beloved children.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Observations on the JSOC and OSC tensions prevailing in Kerala
Some observations on the escalation of tensions between the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Syrian Church. (I will be biased in my opinion but would prefer to position my bias/preferential option to those who are oppressed and afflicted at the moment. Whenever there is a change and if the oppressed becomes the oppressor, this opinion will also change accordingly.)
1. The court has not ruled out reconciliatory talks and confidence building measures between the churches. The door to talks and settlements is not closed.
2. This is a jolt to the ecumenical relationships between churches. The OSC has bishops and priests in high ranking positions of ecumenical bodies. How then can the church not compromise for the larger good, as ecumenical acceptance is itself also a compromise?
3. A forced unity can never be Christian. It is a very imperialistic move from the OSC which does not bode well for churches in India.
4. The court has not suggested alienation of people/church members from their beliefs or spirituality. Such forced alienation, eviction and use of force is anti-democratic and un-Christian.
5. Jesus’ teaching that the first will be last and the last will be first should never be laughed off as an unrealistic and utopian dream (which is what an unbridled expansion will mean). If we do so we risk preaching a defeated Christ and a defeated cross, which goes against the theology and belief of all churches.
6. By being generous and compassionate the OSC will only gain a larger acceptance in society, among other churches and among their own church members.
7. The thought of the annihilation of a church, a people or a particular tradition is very dangerous and can lead to irreparable damage among all Christians.
8. The court cases also came about because of a deep-seated enmity among two churches. The aim was not just winning but showing the opposition to one another.
9. Tomorrow whoever else does something like this will also have to face the criticism of other churches and civil society. The opposition is not to the OSC as a church but to the thought of acquiring and amassing wealth and property which does not completely belong to someone.
10. Evil has to be opposed but it need not come at the expense of not having a relationship with one another. The wide ranging criticism of a church should change to the criticism of wrong policies.
11. People from both churches can join to oppose injustice in society and even in churches. There is already a natural association which is in relationship with common concerns and issues. This will be a healthy development.
12. How long can we accuse one another and try to do away with each other? Even as we worship the same God, it is necessary that we allow the continuing of several denominations as it helps us to witness to Christ Jesus in a better way.
13. Clergy and laity of both churches who should be contributing effectively to the Christian world are blinded by the faith to the denomination than true faith in God. This leads to the stunting of growth of very promising minds.
14. It is still not too late. We can stop throwing stones at one another and sit at a table and start talking. By hurling accusations at one another, we are rubbing salt on the wounds instead of working on the healing process.
15. Forceful occupation done by countries and powerful institutions has never worked anywhere. The enmity lasts for generations, leading to greater mistrust, hatred and unending conflict.
May God show a way for peace to prevail and for people to be given the churches that their ancestors or they themselves have built. Hope all of us can come together in prayer and wait for a great healing from God.
(Picture credit www.newsreaderboard.com)
Friday, March 27, 2020
The difference between faith and superstition in a time like this
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Some thoughts and questions on online churches
1. Preachers/priests in church can preach from a church, room or studio and put it online or live stream it but they can’t offer (give) communion online? So the word of God can be given online but the body of God can’t?
2. People go near the T.V. and raise their hands praising God, touch the screen for healing and repeat prayers which have actually been recorded several days ago but online confession is not possible?
3. The congregation can sit and watch Holy Communion service via television or laptop, they can do other things during the recorded or live streamed service but nothing can be offered to them at home because it would be a disrespect to the church and the elements?
4. The internet and social media are used a lot for the benefit of the clergy but are they used for the benefit of the laity?
5. Modernity and technology has entered the altar in the form of electricity, machines, technology and gadgets. A dilution of the original has already taken place and homes have moved closer to the altar. But is that very technology used to take the altar to homes?
During a lockdown and during social distancing it will be beneficial for us to think in depth about this. How can the transforming body and blood of Christ be offered without physical contact? (During an emergency/emergencies) Or is physical contact needed for being the one body of Christ? (When touch and contact is not possible due to certain circumstances?)
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
We need an ecumenical response to Covid-19
(Picture from www.pcecumenism.ca)