by Rev. Fr. Dr. Joy Pyngolil, Florida
According to our liturgical calendar, October 30th or 31st or 1st Sunday in November marks the beginning of our liturgical year. We have special name for this Sunday: koodos eetho (qds, Hebrew) which means “sanctification of the church”. In this short message I would like to focus on the theme of a sanctified church in today’s context.
First of all, we need to know what is the Church and why it should be sanctified? Church, according to St. Paul, is the “Body of Christ” (Comp. Romans 12: 4-21; 1Cor: 6: 15; 12:12ff) or the “temple of God” (1 Cor.3:16). This Church belongs to God. A temple is the abode of God and therefore it must be holy. Here St. Paul reminds us all that individual believers and the collected body of believers are members of Christ’s body.
St Peter jogs our memory to be “living stones” built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). We proclaim in our Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed that we believe in 'ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC church'. Church, by virtue of being a church, is the body of sanctified people, “called out” (ek-kaleon, <ekklesia. gk) from darkness to His marvelous light to declare His wonderful deeds. (1 Peter 2:9). And therefore, Church is One Holy and Apostolic.
We separate certain places/things for certain uses. We give due regards to our place of worship. It must be clean. As group or individual this cleanliness has to be physical, moral and ethical. This is a God-given requirement: “You shall be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy”. “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes, and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” (Lev.19:2; 20: 6-8; 1 Peter 1:15).
In his High priestly prayer, our Lord prayed to His father to sanctify his disciples and his church: “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, and they also may be consecrated in truth.” (John 17: 17-19). This Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are interceding for us (Heb.10; Rom 8: 26-27)
In summary, Church is the body of Christ, not an association of people. Christ sanctified it by his sacrifice and continues with the sanctification process; and we shall maintain that sanctified status by following the word of God in our individual and collective responsibilities. In other words we have to follow a sanctified behavior pattern. It is not your adherence to a faith that matters but your new behavior.
Now let’s look what does this sanctification mean to us? As individuals and as a body of believers, we have to examine our lives and mission. Where are we in our mission? Christ did not send us to the world to make enemies but to make disciples. Our mission is not political but moral and spiritual.
Historically churches have succeeded to make followers (party spirit) (by force or mission) but failed to make disciples. We have been fighting for temporal and personal power and recognition. It is high time we pause for a moment and contemplate on our special calling. Our church, with its long history, is still in its infancy in mission. We need to be a community reaching out. Every parish should have an active mission program where all believers take active roles. Our parish committee and general body meetings should be theologically based and mission focused. Our individual commitment to Christian/church life needs to go beyond our Sunday worship, learning church history, and monthly subscription to a total dedication of Christian living because we are a “called out” community to proclaim His good deed by putting away “all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and slander.” (1 Peter 2:2). As individuals we need to commit ourselves to spread the gospel by our personal deeds - reaching out as forgiving and loving persons; as parishes we have to develop a mission plan that goes beyond Sunday ministry; and as a Church we have to be a forgiving entity with wide world view, ecumenical initiatives and putting away all quarrels to “declare His marvelous deeds.”
Let this qds etho (koodos eetho) Sunday be a renewed beginning for all of us - individuals, parishes and our church as a whole. May God bless us all. Let’s work closely, putting away our differences, to glorify His name by our words and deeds with the help of His Holy Spirit.
God's Image in man
by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
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