Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal
Holy Week Special 1
Fortieth Friday - Lazarus Saturday - Palm Sunday

Volume 2 No. 67 March 29, 2012

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The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
(Proverbs 4:18-19)
Table of Contents
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1. Editor's Note

2. Bible Readings for Friday, Saturday and Sunday

3. Sermons for Friday, Saturday and Sunday

4. Inspiration for Today

God is faithful.

5. Featured: Palm Sunday and What Jesus' Passion Means to Us

Christ arrives a king triumphant today and dies as a criminal on Friday. Christ is honored with palm branches today and crowned with thorns on Friday. Christ is adored with singing today and mocked with jeers on Friday. Christ is born in victoriously on the foal of an ass today and bears the burden of the cross on Friday. ...

6. Book Excerpt: With Christ In the School of Prayer - Lesson 30: The Ministry of Intercession

A priest is a man who does not at all live for himself. He lives with God and for God. His work is as God's servant to care for His house, His honor, and His worship, to make known to men His love and His will. He lives with men and for men (Heb. 5:2). His work is to find out their sin and need, and to bring it before God, to offer sacrifice and incense in their name, to obtain forgiveness and blessing for them, and then to come out and bless them in His Name.  ...

7. The Priest Does Not Just Do a Job ... He Is a Man Impassioned for Christ by Pope Benedict XVI

I know that there are so many parish priests in the world that give all their strength to evangelization, to have the presence of the Lord and of his sacraments. I have said that it isn't possible to do all that one wishes to do, which perhaps should be done, because our strengths are limited and the situations are difficult in a society that is increasingly diversified, more complicated. ...

8. No Accident

Jesus was born crucified. Whenever he became conscious of who he was, he also became conscious of what he had to do. The cross-shaped shadow could always be seen. And the screams of hell's imprisoned could always be heard. This explains the glint of determination on his face as he turned to go to Jerusalem for the last time. He was on his death march. ...

9. The Importance of Loving Every Aspect of Christ

So many people today love the "soft" side of Jesus, yet they forget about the fact that He will also judge. So as you worship Christ, remember that while those pictures of a sweet, gentle Jesus are true, they're only part of the picture of the Lion and the Lamb who loves, but will also judge. ...

10. Family Special: Coming to Terms With the Past

God does not want us to be forever burdened with our past sins. .. So too is the promise for our marriages, which so often bend under the load of sins, both past and present. We must be honest with ourselves, with the Lord and with each other about memories or habits or activities that may be eroding our relationship and then deal with them. But we can do so in the joy of knowing that in Christ we can find forgiveness, restoration and a new start. ...

11. Health: Studies Find an Aspirin a Day Can Keep Cancer at Bay

Three new studies added to growing scientific evidence suggesting that taking a daily dose of aspirin can help prevent, and possibly treat, cancer. ...

12. Recipe: Pessaha Appam (INRI appam)

One of the favorite recipes for the traditional bread for Pessaha. More recipes can be found in Malankara World.

13. Memory

Two middle-aged couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, "Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?" ...

14. Position, Motivation

Charley, a new retiree-greeter at Wal-Mart, just couldn't seem to get to work on time. Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late...

15. About Malankara World

Editor's Note
We are at the beginning of the Holy Week. Holy week officially starts on Monday, April 2. But the festivities starts on Friday, March 30 - the fortieth day of the Great Lent. Saturday, March 31 is the Lazarus Saturday and Sunday, April 1 is the Palm Sunday which is also known as Passion Sunday.

The Lectionary reading for the Fortieth Friday is the temptation of Christ by the Satan. The revised Lectionary for the other churches specifies the Temptation of Christ for the first Sunday of the Lent and the Raising of Lazarus for the last Sunday of Lent. This certainly raises the profile of these two important feasts in the eyes of the common laity as many do not attend church on weekdays except during the Holy Week.

Jesus started his public ministry after the 40 day lent and the temptation. His last miracle before the passion was the raising of Lazarus. Raising of Lazarus is extremely important for its symbolic as well as spiritual significance. Jesus may have used the raising of Lazarus to predict what is coming. He allowed Lazarus to stay in the tomb for 3 days like Jesus was going to be; he resurrected Lazarus on the third day as was going to be the case with Jesus on the Easter Sunday.

The Lazarus story also shows the sheer humanity of Jesus that is highlighted by the shortest verse in the bible, "Jesus wept." (John 11:33) Pastor Edward F. Markquart from Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington describes the scene in his poetic, eloquent language thus:

"When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. Martha went back home to find her younger sister and told her that Jesus wanted to talk with her. Mary left immediately with her grieving friends to find Jesus. She too approached Jesus with the same testy reproach, "Jesus, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died." But before Jesus could say anything, Mary burst into tears and so did all her grieving friends. What was Jesus' response to her tears? The Bible says that he was "deeply troubled." The underlying Greek word says that Jesus "shuddered with sadness," so much so that his body shook with emotion. This word in classical Greek is used to refer to a horse, when it snorts. When a horse snorts, the horse's whole body shakes; and so Jesus' whole body shook or shuddered with emotion.

You and I have experienced this often in life, where we are so grieved and sad, that our whole body shook with sorrow.

Then will come that classic line, the shortest verse in the Bible. "Jesus wept." In our antiseptic way, we imagine a single tear running down his face. Rather, the Greek suggests, Jesus "burst into tears."

So here, in this little episode with sensitive Mary, we hear no classic, eloquent teaching about eternal life. In fact, there are no words at all, but simply strong emotions and bursting tears that shake his body."

In his book, 'The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself' Daniel B. Clendenin explains the significance of the 'weeping Jesus' thus:

"The God whom Christians worship is not a remote and aloof 'sky god' somewhere way out there. No, He's a tender God who is deeply moved, even grieved, by anything and everything that threatens our human well-being.

This compassionate and empathetic nature of God is the reason why the Scriptures encourage us to bring to Him every anguish, confusion, anger, perplexity, and anxiety. Stoicism is not a Christian virtue. Like Mary, Martha, and their neighbors, the Psalmist for this week demonstrates this sort of visceral scream to God (Psalm 130:1–2):

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

We can pray to God like this because we know that He weeps when we weep. We place our hope in Him because, as the Psalmist continues, He is a God of 'unfailing love' and 'full redemption' (Psalm 130:7). Our God doesn't only empathize with our many pains and sorrows. He also acts. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, and then he raised Lazarus from the dead."

That is the difference in the Christian God. We worship a living God who has defeated death, sacrificed his only begotten son who died for our sins. Our God understands us and weeps for us like the father of the prodigal son and Jesus when he was here on earth.

With all the emotions running high when we read the Lazarus story, another factor that is often overlooked is the most important confession of Martha on the resurrection and her testimony that Jesus is the Messiah. Another important point to note is that although Lazarus is the central figure in this incident, he does not say a word! He was like Joseph, a man of action and few words!

Let us take a look at Martha's confession:

John 11:25-27:
Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.'

Jesus responds with the divine name--ego eimi, "I am." "I am the resurrection and the life"--zoe life. He goes on to explicate both resurrection and life. Those who "trust" (pisteuein) will live again even if they die, and those who "live" and "trust" will not die at all. Zoe life is not only "life eternal," but true life--the essence of life, the Life Principle itself--right now.

This is one of the seven "I am" teachings in the Gospel of John. In John's gospel, there are seven signs and there are seven "I am" teachings. It is worth reading this important 'I am statement of Jesus.'

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

This is the greatest proclamation of the bible - basis of our Christian Creed. It is an Easter proclamation. We human beings know that we will all physically die but here Jesus immortalized the truth of the gospel: WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?

Pastor Edward F. Markquart eplains the importance of this thus:

'Then Jesus gave a word that has become one of his most treasured teachings: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die!" Will never die! It is one of the great lines of the Bible. Then Jesus asked one of the most important questions found in the Bible, "Do you believe this, Martha?" What a question. Do you believe this? Do YOU believe this? Do you believe that whoever lives and believes in me will never die?"

Martha answered, "I believe. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God and that whoever lives and believes in you will never die." That is an incredible conversation, and we could stop here but the story continues.-

The word, "believe," is a dominant word in the Gospel of John. That word occurs more than sixty times within this gospel. The purpose of the gospel is to tell the Jesus story so that we may believe and that in believing, we find power, abundant life and eternal life.'

Please read the full sermons given in Malankara World and meditate on them to grasp the full impact of today's bible readings. We have three important feasts of the church packed into three consecutive days. Hopefully, you got a taste of the importance of them from the synopsis above.

God willing, we hope to bring out two more special editions for Holy Week. The next issue will cover Monday thru Monty Thursday. Another special edition will cover Good Friday to Easter.

We encourage you to visit our extremely informative Malankara World Special Supplement for Passion week with several eBooks that discusses the seven words of Jesus on the cross:

http://www.malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Passion/Default.htm

as well as our Great Lent Supplement:

http://www.malankaraworld.com/Library/lent/

May God bless us all.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Week in Church
Bible Readings

Friday before Hosanna (40th Friday) - (March 30)

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Saturday before Hosanna (Lazarus' Saturday) - (March 31)

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Hosanna/Palm Sunday - (April 1)

Evening

Midnight

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

For Procession (at the Western Entrance)

For the Blessing of the Palm leaves

Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_Great-Lent.htm

Sermons
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.

Friday before Hosanna (40th Friday) - March 30

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 40th Day (Friday) in Great Lent

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_40th-Friday.htm

Saturday before Hosanna (Lazarus' Saturday) - March 31

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the Lazarus Saturday

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Lazarus-Saturday.htm

Palm Sunday (April 1)

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Palm Sunday

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Palm-Sunday.htm

More Sermons

Features

Inspiration for Today
God is faithful.

God is not a man that he should lie; neither the Son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? -- The Lord sware and will not repent.

God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. -- Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day -- Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. -- All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

I COR. 10:13. Num. 23:19. ‑Heb. 7:21. Heb. 6:17,18. ‑I Pet. 4:19. II Tim. 1:12. ‑I Thes. 5:24. ‑II Cor. 1:20.

Featured: Palm Sunday and What Jesus' Passion Means to Us

by Fr. Andrew

Christ arrives a king triumphant today and dies as a criminal on Friday. Christ is honored with palm branches today and crowned with thorns on Friday. Christ is adored with singing today and mocked with jeers on Friday. Christ is born in victoriously on the foal of an ass today and bears the burden of the cross on Friday.

Our Christian faith isn't about an emotion or feeling, it isn't about priests or people we like, and it isn't about a guarantee of smooth sailing. It is about the fact of this week: God became man so that he could share in our life and even our death. In Jesus Christ, God has experienced the worst of human pain and suffering so that we are not alone in ours.

A priest friend of mine describes hell as "looking at your problems, your pain, your sin, your sufferings, your life, and wondering 'What am I going to do?' Heaven is looking at the difficulties of your life and praying, 'My God, what can you do for me? Look and see the cross in our suffering, to see confession in our sins, to see the resurrection in your pain."

When you are lost, when your loves are cold and gone, when you are alone - where is God? When your dreams and hopes come tumbling down, where is God? When you are gripped by pain, lost in sin, despairing innocence, drowning in shame, where was God?

He was on the cross. All along, He was on the cross. You are not abandoned, you are not alone, you are not alone. My God was on the cross.

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 30: The Ministry of Intercession
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

'An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.' - I Peter 2:5.

'Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord.' - Isaiah 56:6.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me.' These are the words of Jesus in Isaiah. As the fruit of His work all redeemed ones are priests, fellow-partakers with Him of His anointing with the Spirit as High Priest. 'Like the precious ointment upon the beard of Aaron, that went down to the skirts of his garments.' As every son of Aaron, so every member of Jesus' body has a right to the priesthood. But not every one exercises it: many are still entirely ignorant of it. And yet it is the highest privilege of a child of God, the mark of greatest nearness and likeness to Him, 'who ever liveth to pray.'

Do you doubt if this really be so? Think of what constitutes priesthood. There is, first, the work of the priesthood. This has two sides, one Godward, the other manward. 'Every priest is ordained for men in things pertaining to God' (Heb. 5:1); or, as it is said by Moses (Deut. 10:8, see also 21:5, 33:10; Mal. 2:6): 'The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to stand before the Lord to minister unto Him, and to bless His Name.'

On the one hand, the priest had the power to draw nigh to God, to dwell with Him in His house, and to present before Him the blood of the sacrifice or the burning incense. This work he did not do, however, on his own behalf, but for the sake of the people whose representative he was. This is the other side of his work. He received from the people their sacrifices, presented them before God, and then came out to bless in His Name, to give the assurance of His favor and to teach them His law.

A priest is thus a man who does not at all live for himself. He lives with God and for God. His work is as God's servant to care for His house, His honor, and His worship, to make known to men His love and His will. He lives with men and for men (Heb. 5:2). His work is to find out their sin and need, and to bring it before God, to offer sacrifice and incense in their name, to obtain forgiveness and blessing for them, and then to come out and bless them in His Name. This is the high calling of every believer. 'Such honor have all His saints.' They have been redeemed with the one purpose to be in the midst of the perishing
millions around them, God's priests, who in conformity to Jesus, the Great High Priest, are to be the ministers and stewards of the grace of God to all around them.

And then there is the walk of the priesthood, in harmony with its work. As God is holy, so the priest was to be especially holy. This means not only separated from everything unclean, but holy unto God, being set apart and given up to God for His disposal. The separation from the world and setting apart unto God was indicated in many ways.

It was seen in the clothing: the holy garments, made after God's own order, marked them as His (Ex. 28.). It was seen in the command as to their special purity and freedom from all contact from death and defilement (Lev. 11:22). Much that was allowed to an ordinary Israelite was forbidden to them. It was seen in the injunction that the priest must have no bodily defect or blemish; bodily perfection was to be the type of wholeness and holiness in God's service. And it was seen in the arrangement by which the priestly tribes were to have no inheritance with the other tribes; God was to be their inheritance. Their life was to be one of faith: set apart unto God, they were to live on Him as well as for Him.

All this is the emblem of what the character of the New Testament priest is to be. Our priestly power with God depends on our personal life and walk. We must be of them of whose walk on earth Jesus says, 'They have not defiled their garments.'

In the surrender of what may appear lawful to others in our separation from the world, we must prove that our consecration to be holy to the Lord is whole-hearted and entire. The bodily perfection of the priest must have its counterpart in our too being 'without spot or blemish;' 'the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,' 'perfect and entire, wanting nothing' (Lev. 21:17-21; Eph. 5:27; 2 Tim. 2:7; Jas. 1:4). And above all, we consent to give up all inheritance on earth; to forsake all, and like Christ to have only God as our portion: to possess as not possessing, and hold all for God alone: it is this marks the true priest, the man who only lives for God and his fellow-men. ... Read the rest of the lesson in MalankaraWorld.

Previous Lessons (Archive)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Default.htm
"The Priest Does Not Just Do a Job ... He Is a Man Impassioned for Christ"

From the Question-and-Answer session with Pope Benedict XVI and Priests (June 2010)

Q: I am Father Jose Eduardo Oliveira y Silva and I come from America, specifically from Brazil. The majority of us here present are involved in direct pastoral care in the parish, and not only with one community, but at times we are parish priests of more parishes, or of particularly extensive communities. With all good will we seek to meet the needs of a society that is very changed, no longer wholly Christian, but we are aware that our "doing" is not enough. How should we proceed, Holiness? In what direction?

Pope Benedict XVI: I am well aware that today it is very difficult to be a parish priest, also and above all in countries of ancient Christianity; parishes become increasingly more extensive, pastoral unity ... it is impossible to know everyone, it is impossible to do all the works that are expected of a parish priest. And thus, we really ask ourselves how we should proceed, as you have said.

But I would like to say first of all: I know that there are so many parish priests in the world that give all their strength to evangelization, to have the presence of the Lord and of his sacraments, and to these I would like to say a big "thank you," at this time. I have said that it isn't possible to do all that one wishes to do, which perhaps should be done, because our strengths are limited and the situations are difficult in a society that is increasingly diversified, more complicated. Above all, I think it is important that the faithful can see that the priest does not just do a job, hours of work, and then is free and lives only for himself, but that he is a man impassioned for Christ, who bears in himself the fire of the love of Christ.

If the faithful see that he is full of the joy of the Lord, they also understand that he cannot do everything, they accept the limitations, and help the parish priest. This it seems to me is the most important point: that one be able to see and feel that the parish priest really feels himself called by the Lord; and is full of love of the Lord and of his own. If this is the case, one understands and can also see the impossibility of doing everything. Hence, the first condition is to be full of the joy of the Gospel with our whole being. Then choices must be made, priorities set, to see how much is possible and how much is impossible.

I would say that we know the three fundamental priorities: they are the three columns of our being priests.

First, the Eucharist, the sacraments: to render the Eucharist possible and present, above all to offer Sunday Mass, in so far as possible, for all, and to celebrate it in a way that it really becomes the visible act of love of the Lord for us.

Then, the proclamation of the Word in all the dimensions: from personal dialogue to the homily.

The third point is "caritas," the love of Christ: to be present for the suffering, for the little ones, for children, for persons in difficulty, for the marginalized; to really render present the love of the Good Shepherd.

And then, a very important priority also is the personal relationship with Christ. In the Breviary, on Nov. 4, we read a beautiful text of St. Charles Borromeo, great pastor, who truly gave all of himself, and who says to us, to all priests: "Do not neglect your own soul: if your soul is neglected, you cannot even give to others what you should give them. Hence, also for yourself, for your soul, there must be time," or, in other words, the relationship with Christ, personal conversation with Christ is a fundamental pastoral priority, it is the condition of our work for others!

And prayer is not something marginal: it is in fact the "profession" of the priest to pray, also as representative of the people who do not know how to pray and do not find the time to pray. Personal prayer, above all the Prayer of the Hours, is essential nourishment for our soul, for all our action.

And, finally, to recognize our limitations, to open ourselves also to this humility. Let us recall a scene of Mark, Chapter 6, where the disciples are "stressed," they want to do everything, and the Lord says: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while" (cf. Mark 6:31). This also is work -- I would say -- pastoral work: to find and to have the humility, the courage to rest.

Hence, I think that passion for the Lord, love of the Lord, shows us the priorities, the choices, helps us to find the way. The Lord will help us. Thank you all!

No Accident

by Max Lucado

It has all the ingredients of a good sermon illustration.

It's emotional. It's dramatic. And it's a story that'll break your heart. Heaven only knows how many times preachers have used it.

There'd only one problem. It's not accurate. Maybe you've heard it.

It's the story of an engineer who operated a drawbridge across a mighty river. With a control panel of levers and switches, he set into motion a monstrous set of gears that either lifted the bridge for the river traffic or closed it for the oncoming train.

One day he took his young son to work with him. The fascinated boy hurled question after question at his dad. It was not until the span had opened to allow the passage of a ship that the father noticed the questions had ceased and his son had left the room. He looked out the window of his control cabin and saw the young boy climbing on the teeth of the gears. As he hurried toward the machinery to get his son, he heard the whistle of an approaching train.

His pulse quickened. If he closed the bridge there would be no time to retrieve his son. He had to make a choice. Either his son would be killed or a trainload of innocent passengers would be killed. A horrible dilemma mandated a horrible decision. The engineer knew what he had to do. He reached for the lever.

A powerful story, isn't it? It's often used to describe the sacrifice of Christ. And it is not without it's parallels. It's true that God could not save man without killing his son. The heart of God the Father did twist in grief as he slammed the gears of death down on Jesus. And it's sad, yet true, that the innocent have whizzed by the scene of the crime oblivious to the sacrifice that has just saved them from certain death.

But there is one inference in the story that's woefully in need of correction.

Read this quote from the first sermon ever preached about the cross and see if you can find the revealing phrase.

Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 1

Did you see it? It's the solemn phrase in the paragraph. It's the statement that rings of courage, the one with roots that extend back to eternity. It is the phrase which, perhaps as much as any in the Bible, describes the real price God paid to adopt you.

Which phrase? "God's set purpose and foreknowledge." The Revised Standard Version calls it "the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." Today's English Version translates the phrase, "In accordance with his own plan." Regardless how you phrase it, the truth is ever so sobering: The cross was no accident.

Jesus' death was not the result of a panicking, cosmological engineer. The cross wasn't a tragic surprise. Calvary was not a knee-jerk response to a world plummeting towards destruction. It wasn't a patch-job or a stop-gap measure. The death of the Son of God was anything but an unexpected peril.

No, it was part of a plan. It was a calculated choice. "It was the Loxes will to crush him."2 The cross was drawn into the original blueprint. It was written into the script. The moment the forbidden fruit touched the lips of Eve, the shadow of a cross appeared on the horizon. And between that moment and the moment the man with the mallet placed the spike against the wrist of God, a master plan was fulfilled.

What does that mean?

It means Jesus planned his own sacrifice.

It means Jesus intentionally planted the tree from which his cross would be carved.

It means he willingly placed the iron ore in the heart of the earth from which the nails would be cast.

It means he voluntarily placed his Judas in the womb of a woman.

It means Christ was the one who set in motion the political machinery that would send Pilate to Jerusalem.

And it also means he didn't have to do it—but he did.

It was no accident—would that it had been! Even the cruelest of criminals is spared the agony of having his death sentence read to him before his life even begins.

But Jesus was born crucified. Whenever he became conscious of who he was, he also became conscious of what he had to do. The cross-shaped shadow could always be seen. And the screams of hell's imprisoned could always be heard.

This explains the glint of determination on his face as he turned to go to Jerusalem for the last time. He was on his death march. 3

This explains the resoluteness in the words, "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.'

It explains the enigmatic question, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!"'

The cross explains ...

Why he told the Pharisees that the "goal" of his life would be fulfilled only on the third day after his death.

The mysterious appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration to discuss his "departure." 7 They'd come to offer one last word of encouragement.

Why John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the crowds as the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"'

Maybe it's why he tore the grass out by the roots in Gethsemane. He knew the hell he'd endure for saying, "Thy will be done."

Maybe the cross was why he so loved children. They represented the very thing he would have to give: Life.

It adds gravity to his prophecies, "I lay down my life for the sheep." 9 "Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."10

The reference to the rejected stone, 11 the anointing for burial, 12 the dismissal of Judas from the Last Supper: 13 All of these incidents take on a sobering dimension when the imminence of the cross is considered. Our Master lived a three-dimensional life. He had as clear a view of the future as he did of the present and the past.

This is why the ropes used to tie his hands and the soldiers used to lead him to the cross were unnecessary. They were incidental. Had they not been there, had there been no trial, no Pilate and no crowd, the very same crucifixion would have occurred. Had Jesus been forced to nail himself to the cross, he would have done it. For it was not the soldiers who killed him, nor the screams of the mob: It was his devotion to us.

So call it what you wish: An act of grace. A plan of redemption. A martyr's sacrifice. But whatever you call it, don't call it an accident. It was anything but that.

References:

1 Acts 2:22, 23
2 Isaiah 53:10
3 Luke 9:51
4 John 10:17, 18
5 John 6:61-62
6 Luke 13:32
7 Luke 9:31
8 John 1:29
9 John 10:15
10 Matthew 16:21
11 Matthew 21:42
12 Mark 14:3-9
13 John 13:27

Excerpted from God Came Near - Chronicles of the Christ by Max Lucado © 1987 by Max Lucado

The Importance of Loving Every Aspect of Christ

by Dr. Jack Graham

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Revelation 19:11

One of the greatest lessons I've learned about our Lord through the years is He is faithful and keeps His word. Because of this, you and I can be absolutely certain that He will fulfill every promise that He's made. He is true to His word!

Now the first time Jesus came, He came in love and mercy. He came as incarnate Deity, extending His love, salvation, and grace into the world. And through that, anyone may experience the grace of God through Jesus Christ. There's not a person in the world today who cannot know Him this very minute!

But let me tell you, He's promised that when He comes again, it will not be as Savior, but as Sovereign. It will not be to die upon the cross, but to sit upon the throne to rule and to judge. The first time He came to put away our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. The next time He will come to judge and to make war as the conquering King.

So many people today love the "soft" side of Jesus, yet they forget about the fact that He will also judge. So as you worship Christ, remember that while those pictures of a sweet, gentle Jesus are true, they're only part of the picture of the Lion and the Lamb who loves, but will also judge.

JESUS CAME IN LOVE, BUT WILL COME AGAIN IN JUDGMENT. SO AS YOU WORSHIP, REMEMBER TO APPRECIATE BOTH ASPECTS OF YOUR SAVIOR!

Source: Powerpoint Devotional

Family Special: Coming to Terms With the Past

Read: Jeremiah 33:1-26

"I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security." - Jeremiah 33:6

A pastor friend told the story of a couple who had come to him for counseling. The couple had been married 40 or so years, and they were both plagued with guilt. They hadn't become Christians until their later years, and, prior to that, they had both lived sexually immoral lives. Although they had been faithful to each other during their marriage, their past dips into immorality were now making them feel guilty for enjoying sex with each other.

The pastor thought for a moment, then asked the couple to name their favorite hymn. They both said at the same time, "It Is Well With My Soul." So the pastor told them to go home and either listen to or sing the hymn every night before they went to bed.

A week later the couple returned to the pastor's office. They told him that they had felt foolish at first, but they had sung their favorite hymn together each night. The wife blushed and the husband got teary eyed as he told the pastor, "When we got to the part that says, 'My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O, my soul!' well... after all these years we feel fresh and squeaky clean and new all over again."

Throughout the Bible, God's relationship with Israel was tested over and over by Israel's sin. The book of Jeremiah talks about the horrible result of that sin. When the prophet received the prophecy recorded in chapter 33, Jerusalem was under siege from the invading Babylonians. Soon God would allow his people to be carried away from their land into captivity and their land to be destroyed. Like the couple who wrestled with memories of past sins, the Israelites would live with heartrending images of how their unfaithfulness to God had resulted in the burning and pillaging of their land. Their city would be filled with dead bodies.

But the story doesn't end there. The prophet went on to say that because of God's immense love, God would heal Israel's pain, cleanse the people from their sin, and restore them to abundant peace and security. "Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it," God said (Jeremiah 33:9).

Likewise, God does not want us to be forever burdened with our past sins. "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" says Romans 6:18 . And Romans 6:4 promises, "We were therefore buried with him . . . in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

So too is the promise for our marriages, which so often bend under the load of sins, both past and present. We must be honest with ourselves, with the Lord and with each other about memories or habits or activities that may be eroding our relationship and then deal with them. But we can do so in the joy of knowing that in Christ we can find forgiveness, restoration and a new start.

Nancy Kennedy

Points to Ponder:

  • What are some things from the past that each of us is still struggling with?
  • How are they affecting our marriage?
  • How can we talk about those struggles in a way that builds up our marriage?

Source: Bible Gateway - NIV Couple's Devotional Bible

Health Tip: Studies Find an Aspirin a Day Can Keep Cancer at Bay

by Kate Kelland, Reuters

Three new studies published on March 20, 2012 added to growing scientific evidence suggesting that taking a daily dose of aspirin can help prevent, and possibly treat, cancer.

Previous studies have found that daily aspirin reduces the long-term risk of death due to cancer, but until now the shorter-term effects have been less certain - as has the medicine's potential in patients already diagnosed with cancer.

The new studies, led by Peter Rothwell of Britain's Oxford University, found that aspirin also has a short-term benefit in preventing cancer, and that it reduces the likelihood that cancers will spread to other organs by about 40 to 50 percent.

"These findings add to the case for use of aspirin to prevent cancer, particularly if people are at increased risk," Rothwell said.

"Perhaps more importantly, they also raise the distinct possibility that aspirin will be effective as an additional treatment for cancer - to prevent distant spread of the disease."

This was particularly important because it is the process of spread of cancer, or "metastasis", which most often kills people with the disease, he added.

Aspirin, originally developed by Bayer, is a cheap over-the-counter drug generally used to combat pain or reduce fever.

The drug reduces the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and can therefore protect against heart attacks and strokes, so it is often prescribed for people who already suffer with heart disease and have already had one or several attacks.

Aspirin also increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach to around one patient in every thousand per year, a factor which has fuelled an intense debate about whether doctors should advise patients to take it as regularly as every day.

Last year, a study by British researchers questioned the wisdom of daily aspirin for reducing the risk of early death from a heart attack or stroke because they said the increased risk of internal bleeding outweighed the potential benefit.

Other studies, including some by Rothwell in 2007, 2010 and 2011, found that an aspirin a day, even at a low dose of around 75 milligrams, reduces the long-term risk of developing some cancers, particularly bowel and oesophageal cancer, but the effects don't show until eight to 10 years after the start of treatment.

Rothwell, whose new studies were published in The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology journals on Wednesday, said this delay was because aspirin was preventing the very early development of cancers and there was a long time lag between this stage and a patient having clinical signs or symptoms of cancer.

Rothwell and others said deeper research was now needed into aspirin as a potential treatment for cancer in patients whose disease has not yet spread.

"No drug has been shown before to prevent distant metastasis and so these findings should focus future research on this crucial aspect of treatment," he said.

Peter Johnson, chief clinician at the charity Cancer Research UK, said his group was already investigating the anti-cancer properties of aspirin. "These findings show we're on the right track," he said.

In a written commentary on the research in The Lancet, Andrew Chan and Nancy Cook of Harvard Medical School in the United States said it was "impressive" and moved health experts "another step closer to broadening recommendations for aspirin use".

Source: Yahoo News, Reuters

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Recipe: Pesaha Appam (INRI appam)

by Annie Thomas

Ingredients:

Rice powder (not roasted)-1 cup
urad dal(uzhunnu)-25 gm
1/2 coconut grinded(medium)
pinch of cumin

Directions:

Soak the uzhunnu for a few hours. Grind well.
Grind well the coconut + a pinch of jeera (cumin).
Add everything together and make a dough of idli maavu consistency.
"Keep only for 1/2 hour to ferment." (To remind of Pesaha)

Grease preferably steel plates of medium round shape. Pour batter in one, and
make a cross of palm leaf obtained on Palm Sunday on it. Steam till well done.

Make all other appams same way but with no cross.
Makes about 2 or 3 medium appams.

Paalu kurukku

Ingredients:

roasted rice powder-1 cup
sarkkara(molasses)-1 cup
cardamom powder
coconut-1

Directions:

Please use freshly grinded coconut for making this, otherwise the taste won't be good. Take the juice of coconut. You can put the grinded coconut in blender (mixi) and add some hot water to grind for 30 seconds. Now the juice comes out easily.1st milk should be kept separately. Take 2nd and third milk also. These two should equal 1 litre of milk.

Take molasses and put the in a saucepan. Add some water and heat well. While boiling, a lather forms. This should be cleaned away.

Then add cumin and chukku (dried ginger). Now sieve this through a strainer and you can see lot of stones and dirt in it. This liquid form of molasses should be used in your recipes. I have seen lots of people use molasses directly in recipes, without first melting them.

Remember, all these dirt and stones are dangerous, especially for kids. This commonly happens when we prepare aval vilayichathu, where we use it directly. But be sure to melt it first. The consistency can be achieved by adjusting the amount of water added to it.

Take the 2nd and third milk, molasses syrup and roasted rice powder, bring to a boil. Stir continuously, otherwise lumps will form. Mix cardamom powder with 1st milk and add it last. Also add a piece of palm leaf. Before it boils, take off the stove.

As the tradition goes, the head of the family cuts the appam and gives it to other members, oldest to youngest respectively, after dipping in paalukurukku. This is done in great reverence and pious atmosphere.

More recipes for Pessaha appam can be found in Malankara World Passion Week Supplement.

More Recipes/ Cooking Tips at Malankara World Cafe

Memory
Two middle-aged couples were enjoying friendly conversation when one of the men asked the other, "Fred, how was the memory clinic you went to last month?"

"Outstanding," Fred replied. "They taught us all the latest psychological techniques, such as visualization, association and so on. It was great. I haven't had a problem since."

"Sounds like something I could use. What was the name of the clinic?"

Fred went blank. He thought and thought, but couldn't remember. Then a smile broke across his face and he asked, "What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?"

"You mean a rose?"

"Yes, that's it!" He turned to his wife, "Hey Rose, what was the name of that memory clinic?"

Position, Motivation

Charley, a new retiree-greeter at Wal-Mart, just couldn't seem to get to work on time.

Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late...but he was a good worker--really tidy, clean-shaven, sharp-minded, a real credit to the company and obviously was good at demonstrating their "Older Person Friendly" policies. One day, the boss called him into the office for a talk. "Charley, I have to tell you: I like your work ethic, you do a bang up job; but your being late so often is quite bothersome." "Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it."

''Well good, you are a team player. That's what I like to hear. It's odd, though--your coming in late. I know you're retired from the Armed Forces. What did they say if you came in late there?"

'They said, "Good morning, Admiral, can I get you coffee, sir?'''

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