Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
WITNESSING LIFE OF THE LAITY (Voluntary Evangelist's Day)
V 3b-4 "The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before God of heaven."
This Sunday, we celebrated
various ministries of the Laity of the Church and recognizing the valuable
contribution of the Mar Thoma Voluntary Evangelists' Association.
Nehemiah is often regarded as a biblical model of lay ministry and leadership: a man of prayer and action, vision and mission, high principles and sense of justice, excellent leader and brilliant planner, organizer and strategist, team player and motivator, courageous and persevering. He had problem solving capacity and was concerned about poor and needy. Nehemiah was an unusual layman.
He had an amazingly comfortable and influential position as the right hand man of the king of the Persian Kingdom, around 2500 years ago. Children of Israel were captives to Babylon and later to Medo -Persian empire for almost 300 years. When Nehemiah heard about the conditions in Jerusalem, he broke down and wept. He was deeply grieved. After his initial grief, he prayed, pouring his heart out to God. Here we can see the elements of effective prayer: praise, thanksgiving, repentance, specific request, and commitment.
Nehemiah's life story provides key principles for effective lay ministry such as being a person of constant prayer, derive power and wisdom from God, have a clear purpose in the light of God's will, be a motivator and live above reproach. Also, it shows that there is no success without risk of failure, no reward without hard work, no opportunity without criticism, and no leadership without trust in God. As laypersons, we are called to rebuild spiritual renewal and rebuilding people’s dependence on God. When we take eyes from God, we will crumble.
Nehemiah saw the need to rebuild the wall and then went to God with an understanding heart. Nehemiah did not share with everyone all that was in his heart including to the King. Nehemiah showed wisdom in proceeding with the most information available. When the wall was half complete the enemy began to make moves upon Jerusalem and to prevent him from competing the rebuilding of the wall. But Nehemiah did not heed to the enemy and went on building the wall. After rebuilding the wall there was great revival in Jerusalem and in Judah. He saw destruction, rebuilding and revival of his people.
The ministry of our Bishops and priests of the Mar Thoma Church has been a great blessing. The place and role of the Diaspora laity has been a great asset to the church, especially in the development of the Church in this hemisphere. God has a vision for each one of us as a layperson to rebuild the broken relationships. We need confidence in our abilities and should fully dependent on God. God has placed us in strategic positions like Nehemiah and Esther who moved out of their comfort zone to serve his purpose in times of need. Whatever the position God has entrusted us, we must be a witness for our Lord. God can use any person with a burdened heart. Is our heart burdened for the lost souls, the needy and poor who need justice?
Lord, help us to ponder, expand our hearts and minds to recognize your love, grace, strength, and peace at this time of pandemic. Thank you for being our refuge and a very present help in this troubled world. Help us to be a good steward, a servant minister, a volunteer ambassador, in demonstrating the faith through our daily acts of compassionate care and prayerful living. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
What are the walls that need to be rebuilt in our lives and in our relationship with others?
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church