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Showing posts from February, 2016

Word for the day Christian Education Forum

Transforming Oppressive Structures
Nahum 1:1-15
Tina Suraj
Carmel MTC, Boston MA
The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust him. But he will sweep away his enemies in an overwhelming flood. He will pursue his foes into the darkness of night… Now I will break the yoke of bondage from your neck and tear off the chains of Assyrian oppression.” (Nahum 1:7-8; 13)
Is our society at a critical juncture today? If you turn on the news, you are inundated with violence, calamities, strife and hunger. We see more and more images of suicide bombers, school shootings, and violence between religious groups. We hear of our struggling economy, high unemployment rates, and increasing poverty levels. Even if you take a look at the U.S. presidential elections, we are left with mud-slinging, insults, a sense of entitlement and arrogance.  Worse of all, we are becoming increasingly desensitized to all this in our society. Is this an indication of a doomed nation?        …

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Transforming the Oppressive Structures
Joshua 3
Verghis  Kattapuram
Carmel MTC, Boston MA
"When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan."

Believe  –  Act  –  Wait.
Joshua took over  the  task of leading  Israelites to  the  promised  land after Moses.   He was a good strategist, optimistic leader and strong believer  in the promises  of God.   Joshua adhered to the above three leadership traits in the crossing  of the river Jordan by Israelites  as narrated in Chapter 3.   This  story  teaches  us  many valuable  lessons  for leading an optimistic  and fulfilling  Christian life on earth.

Joshua was  challenged internally (Israelites) and externally (inhabitants of promised land). We all  have  experienced the frustrations of  knowing the  truth but having no one believe us.  Believing is a choice even when we don’t like it.  Acting based on a strong conviction (belief in  the promise of  God) may look like a high risk undertaking  in  …

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Transforming the Oppressive Structures
St. Luke.13:10-17
Rev Denny Philip
Carmel MTC, Boston MA
13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

On a Sabbath day, we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue. The miracle that followed is an extension or demonstration of His teaching. Like other miracle stories, here also the narration transcends a mere description to a teaching. The event that is happening on the Sabbath in the synagogue redefines the meaning of both the Sabbath and the synagogue.
Sabbath as a day of fullness and transformation: Gatherings in the synagogue on the Sabbath was going on for a long time as a ritual. This woman may have been a regular worshipper. The Sabbaths were observed as per the norms digging into details but without seeing or helping this woman for the past eighteen years. The words of the synagogue leader resonate the popular understanding of the observance of Sabbath and the need to abstain from work. But it was take…

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Faith Expression of the Marginalized
1 Corinthians 1:20-25
Rohit George Verghese
St. John’s MTC, UK
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? In 1:20, four rhetorical questions are asked where the philosopher, religious scholar and debater are talked about. They’re considered to be specialists in their fields, however even they wouldn’t be able to create or comprehend the plan of salvation that God has made for us. In our ‘wisdom’ we would have made it much more perplexing and intricate. However, God bestowed a salvation, that is available to everyone, by sending His Son to die for our sins. Moreover, God designed the plan of salvation in a way that the sinful man could not come to recognize Him by human wisdom. Therefore, God planned to save lost sinners through a way that was perceived as nonsense to a ‘wise’ world- the cross. In this, we see the wisdom of God fully exposed. Consequently, in …

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Stepping Out In Faith
Acts 10:24-33
Christine Thomas
St. John’s MTC, NY
28 and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. Have we ever for a moment thought about how lucky we are to be Christians? How blessed we are to know that Jesus died for our sins? Who else can openly say, my God died for me, my God paid for my sins? As Christians we are beyond blessed to know that our Father in Heaven loves us so much, that He sent His perfect Son to pay the ultimate price for us. From a young age we have been taught the love of God, and His teachings have been instilled in us. We have fellowship with our brothers and sisters during Sunday services, youth fellowship meetings, prayer meetings, etc. But how many of us are willing to step out and spread that message to our brothers and sisters of different faiths? How many of us would step out of our comfort zones and …

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Walking forward in uncertainty
Isaiah 45:1-8 

Lijo Chacko Long Island MTC, NY
2. I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.3 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Recently, couple of the youths from different Parishes in USA went on a mission trip to Navjeevan Centre in Mumbai, India. We all had personal questions, concerns and doubts before leaving. I myself was hoping for some epiphany but I came back with even more questions, concerns and obstacles. When we saw the reality that the kids face there, it was an eye opening experience.  The lack of resources was very apparent,  I know I felt helpless. Lack of water, shoes, basic school supplies, teachers etc.  I knew that two weeks of singing songs,  praying and tutoring may not have made a significant difference to the people we visited but it did bring up qu…

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Faith Expression of the Marginalized  John 4:19-26
 Sheena Thomas Long Island MTC, NY
23 "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
In this passage, Jesus goes through Samaria on his way to Galilee. In Samaria, he sits at a well and encounters a Samaritan woman. Through their conversation, the Samaritan woman realizes that Jesus is not just any ordinary Jew. She begins to realize that He is the Messiah. From a short conversation with Jesus, this Samaritan woman begins her journey of faith. Jesus intentionally uses the faith of this woman to teach us a lesson on true worship. Jesus knew of her troubled past and her indiscretions but He saw that she had a heart that was seeking truth and was open to let Jesus transcend her previous misconceptions.   Jesus gives an insight into what tru…

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The Prayer of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 1: 1-11
Shannon Thomas Long Island MTC, NY 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. As a child, I remember my parents instilling in me the power of prayer. I used to pray for everything: food, clothing, getting A’s in all my classes etc. I used to even pray that my favourite character would not be harmed in the TV episodes that I used to watch. Trusting in the power of prayer, I genuinely believed that our big and awesome God could somehow save even my favorite fictitious character from her demise. Though my understanding of prayer as a child was simplistic, it was child-like faith that brought me to believe that all things are possible through God.
In a brief eleven verses, the first chapter of Nehemiah shows us the humble pr…

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Nobody is beyond God’s forgiveness
Jonah 3:1-10
Saramma Chacko
Epiphany MTC, NY
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Prophet Jonah disobeyed God, as a result landed in the belly of a big fish. From there, he prayed and God heard him. In His mercy, God forgave him. In the given passage, we see that Jonah was given a second chance to go to Nineveh to proclaim God’s message and he obeyed. Nineveh was one of the biggest cities in the known world, in the time of Jonah, with approximately 120,000 inhabitants. They were brutal people, leading a sinful life.  Jonah reluctantly preached God’s message regarding the impending doom of Nineveh in forty days for he did not want them to repent and to be saved. He wanted them to be punished as they were not Jews.  In his mindset, the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God only belonged to the Jews. The rest of the wor…

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Release from the Burden of Sin
St. Mark. 2:1-12
Rev Denny Philip
Carmel MTC, Boston, MA
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark’s healing narratives go beyond mere description of the healing miracle. Through each narrative, he is gradually revealing the messianic aspect of Jesus. Today’s passage proclaims the truth that ‘the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’. As we are meditating on this passage during the Lent, let us focus on two aspects of the transformation emphasized in this passage. Transformation from Crowd to community: We notice two groups of people here. Those who are in the house with Jesus, hearing His words yet murmuring inside when they cannot comprehend His actions. This group, whom Mark calls 'crowd', prevents the paralytic from reaching Jesus. They have gathered in the house in such a way that there is no room for others. They are an audience who came to see Jesus performing miracles, enjoy His words a…

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Forgiveness of Sin
2 Samuel 12:1-14
Pradeep John
Connecticut Mar Thoma Congregation
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.

The context of this passage is God sending Nathan, the prophet, to King David to make David confront his sin committed with Bathsheba. We are all sinners before God. God is ready to cleanse us of our trespasses if we truly repent of our sins “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Confronting our sin :King David’s sin displeased God but David wouldn't listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit or to his conscience. When we hear or sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit we must respond to it immediately, because it might not always be there. So God sent Nathan to David who with wisdom and courage delivers the message using a parable. Nathan applied the parable with alarm…

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Your Gifted Life, Your Divine Standing Galatians 3:10-14 Monish John Chicago MTC, IL
14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
In the Epistle to Galatians, Apostle Paul is reminding us how paramount it is to rely on our faith in Jesus to be righteous, and inherit the salvation. We may have seen children who in their sleep seem to be reaching out to find their parents to gain comfort and confidence. This instinct, illustrates the reliance on the guardian, to be secure. We can visualize faith as our reliance in God the Father, and as being guided by the Holy Spirit to be righteous in our public and private life. This passage examines two ways to attain and sustain righteous life and to have the right standing before Lord. They are - Infallible faith in Jesus.Adherence to the law.Let us understand, law is not a replacement for faith; instead law was the custodian for a timeline…