As Vicar, it is with immense gratitude I write the last message to our Parish Messenger. For me Parish Messenger is an abstract of all the activities of the parish. It gave me the avenue to reflect and write on the biblical and theological insights within our cultural context.
It was a great privilege and honor to serve you all as the servant of the Lord for the last three years. Your love and prayerful support were immeasurable. We learned, loved, and lived with you all. Parish was our immediate family. We experienced the depth of joyful relationships. The gathering of members around us and the conversation with you all helped us to understand the congregation. The conversation with different age groups introduced the history of the parish, her growth, and the present stage of functioning. We enjoyed the worship services, the parish programs, and the programs of the organizations.
It was a new learning experience to minister you all in the COVID 19 pandemic. Our dreams and imaginations were shattered. We heard the voices of the sick and the lost. As parish we passed through the tough times; bidding farewell to several of our members to eternal rest. But God strengthened and comforted us. We all received His grace and mercies at these times. We gathered together in virtual media, prayed together and held our arms together. God is helping all of us to overcome the fragilities and frustrations of the pandemic.
As one of the leading parish of the Diocese, lets always reminded about the great mission our Lord has entrusted us. Our Mission is to serve the people of this land as servants of the Crucified Lord without diluting and deluding the ethos of the church. Our parish is blessed with good lay leadership in all demographical segments. Be torchbearers of faith, “light to the generations and salt of the earth.”
We are into the Holy Week. In this Holy week our meditation is focused on the Cross of Christ. Cross of Christ is the center of salvation. It is the crucial point, the place of convergence where everything about the gospel comes together. If you interrogate Christian faith and ask, “In one word, how does God save sinners?” the response of a healthy faith will be instantly and confidently to pick out the Cross. The cross is more than the near-universal symbol of Christianity. This simple design carries the message of love, finality, fulfilled promises, and more to people around the world. The cross of Christ is the center of the work that God did in Christ, “reconciling the world to himself.”
The cross is also seen as God’s deliberate choice. He did not stumble into it by accident but chose the weak and foolish things of the world in order deliberately to confound the wise and to shame the strong. Thus, the most radical, of God’s character is demonstrated in the cross: the love of God for the despised of the world. The cross is a symbol of shame in the Old Testament (Duet 21:23; Gal 3:13-14) and thereby serves not only to state the radical nature of Christ’s humiliation, but by implication to judge the world and all its inhabitants as being “the despised” who must identify with a crucified messiah in order to receive God’s salvation.
Cross is the means of the redemption of humankind. The cross is displayed as a “sacrifice of atonement” (Romans 3:24). Cross of Christ pays the price for the salvation of humankind and therefore serves their sentence, freeing them from death, and pays the ransom needed to free the slaves from the power of sins and allow them to live. Salvation is a free gift. It is the reversal of the expectation that one needs to earn one’s salvation or at least contribute to it. Salvation brings to light that freedom is a gift and is empties the forgiven subject of self-righteousness.
Christ on the cross reveals us a God with divine marginalized powerlessness. There is no God than this God in the margin who speaks truth to power, truth to lie, love to hate. There is no divine entity away from this revealed God for this is God whose body hangs mangled on a cross. Rather with Christ a new ontology of self-giving breaks in that human beings can participate in to the extent that they abandon all self-sufficiency and self-reliance, i.e. their own way of being in this world. Christ is the gift beyond our means that exhausts our imagination and efforts; it shows up as self-giving. Its characteristic is freedom from self and freedom for the other. Salvation is not ours; it is found in God’s self-giving in Christ, which is the freedom of God.
Sincere thanks to all parish members, executive committee members and office bearers for the prayerful support, feedbacks, comments, and encouragements.
As we prepare to bid farewell to all of you, we request your continued prayers for our future ministry.
May God bless our Parish and keep you all safe in His Mighty Hands
Prayers & Blessings
Rev. Aby M. Thomas Tharakan