[Diocesan Bishop and President of Diocese of North America & Europe, Marthoma Syrian Church ]


"And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." (St.Luke 8:1-3)

Modern day Church had gone weak, anemic, depleted and emaciated. An Artist had portrayed the contemporary church as a tree with all its leaves are shed off. A group of people, may be comprised of bishops, priests, nuns, pastors, teachers, preachers, evangelists, missionaries etc. are carefully engaged, in vain, on and down the tree, to graft the fallen leaves to its stem. This may be a very painful portrait of the church but there are some truths in it. The Church tree which is supposed to be grown with thick leaves, flowers and fruits so that the birds could lodge on it, people could benefit from the shade of it, and many could make living out of it, had gone to it's remains only with its stalk. The Church which is supposed to be in the mission of giving the shade, solace, refuge, salvation, healing for all and to comfort all in their afflictions, had became devoid of it.

What is Church? What should be its mission? What should be its essential disposition? Church is called for the glorification of the kingdom of God. It is a special community chosen and separated by the Christ. We see crowd every where, in the streets, in the market places, in the festivals or where ever we look. But these crowds come out from a multitude which has no bondage to any and without any interrelation. There is no affection or love emerged out of fellowship. The evangelization is the process of making crowd into a congregation. Once the crowd is turned out to be a community, it is the Church. Here there are no rich, no poor, no wise, no illiterate, no complaint, no disrespect, no ill-disposal, no offence, and absolutely no ownership. But there is love, unity, fellowship, mutual understanding and a distinct identity for all. In this congregational society there is inter-relation, there is understanding, there is compassion and there is a distinct aim of it. All are encouraged together and comforted together with mutual faith and with great dignity. It emerges out as a community rejoiced in the expressions of one another’s love and communicating their faith one to another with great spiritual concern. They are affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor, preferring one another. We see such a small group revolved around Jesus as described in our biblical reference above. Christ had created relationship, affiliation, rapport and association where there was no interaction.

Church in which we are also involved is the body of Christ. It is the community sanctified with the blood of God and entrusted to propagate light to the world in all goodness, righteousness and truth. We are called to walk as children of Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The referred biblical portion makes it evident, what is the mission of the church. It is a congregation to share, to worship together and to heal each other. What we have received with us to be proud of right now is only the long-gone nobility of the Church. Many times we live in our past grandeur. How is the current Church in this world in which we are also involved is faring in its mission? The church is called to edify and enlighten the world. Church should continue its original mission.

  1. Church is an inclusive Community.
    Church is a community which contains everything non-discriminative. Church is all things to all, and is formed for the transformation of the society. World is a Mosaic community. Church is also a multiracial congregation of Christians seeking to grow in Christ through worship, discipleship and service. Diversity should be the means for the augmentation. In the Body of Christ, the variety of members helps to build up the unity of the whole, while that unity preserves the multiplicity of the members. Christ is the peace, he made everything one and he had broken down the middle wall of partition between us and the state of enmity is reconciled. He made everything one by reconciling all factions. Church should stand-fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. All are co-travelers in this world. All are equal in the Church in front of God. Can the current Church ascertain that there is no malign, hate, or reproach each other? Do we have the courage to claim that all are equal inside the church? Can church see Syrian, Dalith, downtrodden, oppressed, laborer, officer...all as one? For all those who traveled along with Jesus during His earthly mission, their disposition remained same. Whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Instead of despising any, or reproaching any, for their infirmities, they should endeavor to cover and conceal them. What is the status of woman? Women are still kept secluded to a corner even in the reformed Church. We see an early Church around Christ which was called for a mission with evident objective.

  2. Church is an Eucharistic Community. As Eucharistic society, Church realizes its true nature when it celebrates the Supper of the Lord, receiving His Body and Blood in the sacrament. Church is a thanksgiving community. Afflictions put one upon prayer, and prosperity make one abound in praise. In a day of mirth and prosperity, those are comforted praise the Lord. Those who realize the providence of God, praise Lord for the benevolence. Worshipping is the expressions of sincere hearts in adoration of the God and reverent devotion in front of the Lord's Table. Lord had come to this world to minister. Lord Jesus sets himself as a pattern of humility, and usefulness. Those who followed Christ in the early church had the attributes of this adoration. It is easy to praise by mouth, but we need to express our gratitude by walking with Lord and ministering the world. In the life experience of Apostle Paul, he counted every thing negligent for the sake of Lord. Whatever things which were gain to him, he considered loss for Christ. He was willing to do any thing, or suffer any extent, for the glory of God. What ever insufficient to enrich him or what he believed to be in opposition to Christ and would certainly impoverish and ruin him, he counted as loss for the sake of Lord.

  3. Church is an offering and sharing community.
    In the early church when the heart filled with thanks, they shared everything with the needy. Do we share our talents? But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. We are only the stewards of our wealth and abilities. Ownership of everything goes to God. We should expense our abilities as per the disposal of the owner of it. That is the responsibility of the steward. We should share according to that we received. All we received,  belong to others. Church should be for others and then only the pertinence of it is affirmed.

  4. Church is a healed community.
    It is a loss if things are not appropriated. It will be a great comfort to appropriate the things. Healing is to get revealed. Are we revealed? A great door and effectual is opened to us. Those who healed are liable to give healing. Do we stand as a hindrance for the healing to others? But take care that our liberty does not somehow become a stumbling block to others which may cause the weak to ruin. So endure everything so that we will cause no hindrance to the Gospel of Christ. Due to our selfishness, others should not loose the benevolence from God. (blind Bartimaeus, the palsy who was carried by four men) We should not be turned as trouble makers for the society than giving healing to them. The sores can happen in our life also. The history is reminding us the same. Church can not give healing unless it is broken in its heart. What we sow if quickened, except it die. We are called to give healing to the world.

  5. Church is a moving community
    Church needs a moving tendency. Church is 'still' today and hence it is similar to the Dead Sea. There is no throb of life. We should redeem the radical image of its inherent nature of the Church. Where there is healing service for the society, there only we establish the pertinence of the Church. The early church searched and served the needy. It had reinstated the depleted Samaritan woman. They went searching in the tomb. They searched for Palsy man, bent woman, dry skin man. Church should travel to the needy and downtrodden. The Church is currently facing two types of challenges.

    • Evangelization
    • Re-evangelization

Church should not turn its face aside to these challenges, but it should show its readiness to respond to it. The nature of the early church should originate in us. Why we are not able to melt down to our surroundings? Why we are not able to involve the pulses of the needy? Church should travel towards the society. The nature of the early church should originate in us. This New Year, when the church earmarked the year as that of repentance and dedication, we should sense the pulses of the heart of Christ and move forward in the right way of our mission. Like Jesus had exhorted to the Church at Ephesus, ‘Do not leave the first love’. So it is time that we should repent for all our lapses.

[Maramon Convention - 2004
Original in Malayalam : Translated for LOL by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew, Philadelphia]

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