Volume 1 No. 1 April 15, 2011

Malankara World Newsletter

Friday, April 15, 2011 (Friday - 40th Day of the Lent)

Welcome to the Inaugural Edition of the Malankara World Newsletter.

Passion Week in Syriac Orthodox Church

We are into the most sacred part of the year - the Passion Week or Holy Week. Passion Week may not receive all the excitement from kids like Christmas do with its holiday lighting, Christmas Caroling, Holiday Parties, Gifts, etc. etc. But for Christians, it is the most important part of the year. We look forward to participating in the joy of Palm Sunday when Christ triumphantly entered Jerusalem with people along the road spreading their clothes on the road and chanting "Hosanna .. Hosanna."

Then we go to Passover or Pesaha when Jesus Christ instituted our Holy Qurbana and a new covenant. No animal is needed for our sins anymore; instead we have the living sacrifice.

Jesus walks down from there to Gethsemane with the disciples following. During this walk He tells his disciples the now famous "I am the true vine" speech. It is his reminder to us that we need to be productive or we risk being pruned out.

Jesus goes to Gethsemane and prays to God. Blood oozes out instead of sweat as he was under tremendous stress. In the end he submits to the will of his Father. (It is not what I want, it is your will.)

Jesus will be betrayed by one of his disciples, Peter the rock will deny him three times, then all the disciples will abandon him and run away for their lives. He undergoes a mock trial and a reluctant Pilate will sentence him to die on the cross.

We have two processions on Good Friday as part of the liturgy. The first one symbolically shows the Jesus' travel to Golgotha carrying the cross. The other one relives taking the body of Christ for burial. The first procession is a very simple one. Not much glitter as in other processions. No ceremonial dresses. No Marvahthos. No ceremonial umbrellas. The purpose of the procession is to remind us of the suffering Jesus has undergone for us and the mistreatment he has received from the people he came to save.

There is a big contrast between the first procession and the second. The second procession happens after Jesus' death on the cross. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus got permission to bury the dead body of Christ. Only Jesus' mother, John the disciple and few other women are present near the cross when the dead body was taken down. The procession symbolizing the journey to the tomb, however, is very celebratory in our liturgy. This is because, by dieing on the cross, Jesus has defeated death and Satan. Now we can look forward to the Easter and the resurrection. Christianity is alive because Jesus died on the cross and has resurrected on the third day as He predicted before. No other religion has a resurrected God. Only us. This is why the second procession, although it is a march to the cemetery with a dead body, is given all the glitter of a celebration march. The priest and alter assistants all wear ceremonial dresses. Marvahtho is used indicating the presence of angels, and everything else.

Jesus died on the cross for us. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed to a tree because He loves us… and He wants to have a personal relationship with us today.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. This is the event that conquered sin… it conquered death… and it made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God!

So, the Holy week starts with a joyous celebration of the Jesus' entry into Jerusalem; then we have the sad spectacle of his betrayal and death on the cross and then we again are treated with the Joy of Jesus' victory over death and His resurrection. We are no longer bonded to sin. The week gives us plenty of opportunities for introspection and meditation. Hopefully, the 50 days of fasting has toned your body down too!

Malankara World Passion Week Supplement and Great Lent Special

Malankara World has prepared a special supplement for Passion Week.

You can access it directly using the URL:

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

Some of the highlights of the Passion Week Supplement:

Malankara World Lent Special

Our Great Lent Special Portal will add to the Passion Week supplement. The great lent home page can be accessed using the URL:

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

The Lent special takes you day by day through the 50-day lent with bible readings, meditations, informative articles etc.

Special Devotional:

We will conclude this newsletter with a special devotional from Greg Laurie. Note that after Jesus died for us, he has also secured son-ship for all of us. So, now we can call God the Father too. A new relationship and a new covenant has been born.

A New Relationship
by Greg Laurie

Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' " - John 20:17

On the morning of the Resurrection, Jesus didn't allow Mary to touch Him. He was essentially saying, "It's not going to be the way it used to be. You can't hold on to Me in the old way. It's a new covenant."

Then He made a radical statement: "Go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God' " (John 20:17). For Jesus to call God His Father was one thing. But He said, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father. . . . " In other words, "He is your Father now too."

If you came from a fatherless home, God can be the Father you never had. Jesus opened up a new relationship for us through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. No longer must we go through a high priest (as specified in Old Testament with animal sacrifices) to seek atonement for our sins, because Jesus became the final sacrifice for our sins. And He has given us free access to God the Father, to whom we can come in times of need.

Do you know God as your Father? Or does He seem like some distant force? If that is the case, I have good news for you: God is not some mere force or distant power somewhere in the universe. He is personal, He is caring, and He loves you. And that is why He sent His Son to die on the cross in our place.
(This devotional is copyright Harvest Ministries.)

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