Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum


Abraham Mattackal,
MTC of Los Angeles

“ When your children ask their fathers in time to come, what these stones are for,  then you shall  let your children know,  saying, Israel crossed over  this Jordan  on dry land”   

                                              ( Joshua 4:21-22 )
After the death of Moses , God appeared to Joshua and told him to lead the children of Israel  to the promised land of Canaan. God also told him  to select twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes and ask them to carry  12 stones when the waters of Jordan dried up for the passage of the children of Israel, out of the midst  of the river Jordan, where the priests’ feet stood firm and set up these stones  in front of the arc of the covenant  in the lodging place  in Gilgal, on the eastern border of Jericho. Joshua then  asked the children of Israel  to bear in mind that these stones  were a memorial to their posterity.

Consequent upon a decision taken by our Diocesan Council and Assembly when  our beloved late Zacharias Thirumeni  was the Diocesan Bishop, Diaspora Sunday  is being celebrated  all across our North American Diocese  on Sunday before Thanksgiving  Day regularly from the year 2000 on.  The word Diaspora  is a Greek word  used to designate the dispersal of the  Jews  at the time of the destruction  of the first temple  in 586 BC and their  forced exile to Babylonia.  The term Diaspora  has also been applied to other peoples  living outside their homelands. We are a perfect example. We  left our homeland of Kerala  and settled down in different parts of the world.

What do these two celebrations – Diaspora Sunday and Thanksgiving – have in common?
The early English settlers, pilgrims as they are often called, had to undergo enormous difficulties. The harsh voyage and the fierce winter of New England were taking their tolls. Nearly half of the pilgrims  who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in December of 1620  died within the first few months. The native Indians were very much suspicious  of  the pilgrims.  But the Pilgrims did not lose  hope or their steadfast faith in their living God.  With the onset of Spring, they planted  Indian corn and in summer  they had a rich harvest. The native Indians  turned out to be friendly  and helpful.  The settlement was going to survive. And in the Fall, in a spirit  of victory over awesome odds and a  feeling of homesickness  for the land they grew up  and left behind,  they had a harvest festival to thank God for all His mercies and blessings. Every year Americans  observe this most typical national holiday with no real understanding  of its significance  or meaning.  Mostly it just means a time to feast  - a bountiful meal with turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Just as the Pilgrims had to undergo great hardships, the early Mar Thoma settlers  in Malaya/Singapore, United States, Canada and U.K. also had to overcome  so much difficulties and problems while trying to settle down  in different areas of their settlement  without anyone to share or consult with. Parents had to spend  many a sleepless night  working and taking care of their little ones. Each and every one of us  who are part of the early settlers, has a  story to tell  to our second, third and even fourth generation Marthomites.  

As we celebrate Diaspora Sunday this Sunday,  it is our hope and prayer  that its real meaning  would never be lost  with the passage of time and that it would  ever remain as a memorial to our posterity.


Our eternal loving Father, we thank You for Your manifold blessings  and guidance  in our every day lives. We particularly  thank You for being with our early settlers, safeguarding them  and helping them while they were struggling to establish  themselves as individuals and families  in different parts of this continent.  Amen

“ What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits  toward me ? I will take up the cup of  salvation and call upon the name of  the Lord.”  ( Psalm 116: 12-13  )