Vicar’s Message

“Greetings to you in the precious name of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ”.

As I write this message, Houstonians are thrilled over the victory of Astros. Something to be joyful about after the tough times of Harvey. I thank all of the parish members for your overwhelming support for the Harvey relief work. We were able to help several communities and families. The months of November and December are filled with activities beginning with our Parish convention on Nov 4th and 5th. Followed by Sunday school banquet on Nov 11th. Our area Christmas Carol Rounds will begin on Nov 25th. We will be blessed by the presence of our Diocesan Episcopa Rt.Rev.Dr.Isaac Mar Philoxenos on Christmas Carol service on Dec 23rd. Thirumeni will celebrate Holy Communion on 24th. There will be a special service for the first communicants during the service. The Kick-off for the registration and Souvenir for the family conference to be held in Houston from July 5-8, 2018 will be done after the service. Thirumeni will celebrate Christmas Holy Communion on Dec 25th. Our Vicar General Very. Rev. Dr. Cherian Thomas will lead the year end retreat on Dec 30th and 31st and celebrate the watch night Holy Communion service. Let us all meaningfully participate in all these programs and be blessed.

Mary’s obedience opens the door for God to intervene in human history. a new creation comes about, in response to the submission and obedience of a human being Mary. God’s spirit creates the child in Mary. Karl Barth pointed out that there are two moments in the life of Jesus when God intervenes directly in the material world: the virgin birth and the resurrection from the tomb, in which Jesus did not remain, nor see corruption. These two moments are a scandal to the modern spirit. God is “allowed” to act in ideas and thoughts, in the spiritual domain – but not in the material. God is God and he does not operate merely on the level of ideas. Pope Benedict XVI affirms that the virgin birth and the resurrection from the tomb- are the cornerstones of faith. If God does not also have power over matter, then he simply is not God. But he does have this power, and through the conception and resurrection of Jesus Christ he has ushered in a new creation. So as the creator he is also our Redeemer. Hence the conception and birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary is a fundamental element of our faith and a radiant sign of hope.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

May God bless us all.

Yours in His service
Rev. Mathews Philip

Signs & Symbols in Christian Worship
(Rev. Mathews Philip)

Signs and symbols have an important place in human life. We have to relate with various realities, which cannot be seen, heard, known, experienced or comprehended directly by us. So we relate to these realities through certain media. For example love is an invisible reality. But it can be expressed through certain visible signs like kissing, embracing, giving gifts etc. we cannot live without these kinds of signs or symbols.

There is a slight difference between signs and symbols. A sign can be recognized by its nature or shape. For example a picture is a sign and it can be easily recognized because it is more close to a reality and it can be easily recognized because it is more close to a reality (atree,landscape,house.etc). But there is no similarity for a symbol. It is having an attributed meaning without which we cannot understand the symbol. It may be a mystery or matter, which points towards an invisible reality.

In the Eastern worship, symbols are inseparable elements. Candles, Cross, incense etc. are example of such elements, Prostration, bowing the head, and raising hands, etc. are symbolic act. Apart from worship, there is no meaning for such actions. Usually signs and symbols are used interchangeably. These two can’t be separated but are complementary to each other.

In faith and worship, importance is given not only for human rationale and intelligence. But symbols and matters related to five human senses are also very significant. Deep meaning is attributed to signs and symbols. The attitude that whatever is intelligible to our mind only will be accepted, is an immature attitude. That means there are mysteries beyond the comprehension of human mind.

Signs and symbols in the worship of the church:
In the old testament the tabernacle and the Ark were considered as the presence of God in the midst of the people of God (Ex: 25 :1-22). Christian worship emerged from the Jewish worship. So they followed the Jewish patterns and symbols of worship. When there was prohibition on worshipping Jesus Christ during the Roman persecution the early believers wrote on the walls in Greek language “Jesus Christ son of God and Savior”(ICTHUS) –Literally it means fish. So they have drawn the picture of fish to represent Christ on walls and caves where they worshipped. Candle, cross, incense etc. were symbols of early Christian worship. They communicated faith through pictures, icons and inscriptions during that time. Dove as the sign of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ the good shepherd, Palm leaves etc., were the main theme of illustration or icons.

……To be continued