The Journey 53: Transformation in my parish
Read: Nehemiah 2,3
Key Verse: “But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You”. [Psalm 5: 7 ]
A church in New York “Bronx Household of Faith” is asking people to pray for them as they have lost the space to worship. This church use to worship in a school building but now, because of a landmark decision of The United States Supreme Court, they have been denied permission to use space or halls in school for worship. There are many church’s not only in New York but also in other states who uses halls and spaces in school for the purpose of worship. The Supreme Court had declined this month to hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision to uphold the New York City Board of Education’s ban on holding worship services in public schools. Now this church and host of other church’s have been evicted and they are now desperately seeking some space so that they could gather for worship. According to New York Times the reason that the lower court disallowed worship in schools was because the court felt and the judge said that “when worship services are performed in a place … the nature of the site changes,” . If only we Christians could understand the implication of that statement and its significance on our experience and witness of faith. But in this legal struggle of a Church for existence I see a stark contrast. The Marthoma Church in United States has some of the best church building, but is there a passion for coming together for worship? Does our church or its member go through such experiences when all of a sudden they are on the streets nowhere to go and no space nor place to worship?. Never……..but who cares? How many of us think even when we have the best facilities for worship do we become a part of the worshiping community?
On Thursday’s we meditate on how we can bring transformation in our parish. The character we are meditating is about Nehemiah. Nehemiah is concerned about the sad state of the walls of Jerusalem. For him the rebuilding of the walls was a matter of spiritual restoration of peoples relationship with the almighty God. This is when three people Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian start opposing Nehemiah. Here are three people who have vested interest rather than the interest of the community of faith. For them their personal goals and agendas are more important than building the walls of Jerusalem. It does not affect them even if the walls are in ruins because their vision is distorted and they have only some short term goals. It is this vested interest, and the total disregard and the apathy that they show to the genuine needs of the people of Judah is what Nehemiah fights and opposes as he rallies his people for the mission. Transformation happens in our parish when each of its members rise above selfish and vested interest and work for the future and the future generation of the parish. One of the ills that plague some of the church’s in our diocese is the way some of the people in the parish, behave and whose expectation are so lopsided. Their only concern is about their benefits, welfare and the complying and catering to their needs. Their belief sometimes stem from the fact that the clergy in the parish are there exclusively for them. Even if their needs are factors that will stunt the growth of the parish, they are least bothered. For them matters of individual pride, prestige and sometimes language are more important than bringing about the unity of the parish. It is here that we need to think. When religion and spirituality are slowly and consciously weeded out of public life, can we bring about a transformation in our approach and our attitude to our parish? Parish is a space of worship and people whose goal is to worship. Do you long to be a part of that space?
Think– Is worship; A Right or A Privilege? The answer to this question will help you to understand the importance of a worship space in your life.
Let us Pray: Lord we often take the space that you give for worship for granted. We understand that there are lots of groups who need space to worship, but we do not worship even when we have the space for it. Forgive us. Amen