May 7, 2015

Life is like a Homemake Cake

Spiritual Story by Unknown

A little boy is telling his Grandma how "everything" is going wrong: school, family problems, and severe health problems in the family. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does.

"Here, have some cooking oil," she says. "Yuck" says the boy.

"Then how about a couple raw eggs?"

"Gross, Grandma!" he replies.

"Would you prefer some flour then? Or maybe some baking soda?" she asks.

"Grandma, those are all yucky!" he replied.

To which Grandma replies: "Yes, all those things seem to taste bad all by themselves. But when they are mixed together in the right amounts and the right manner, they make a delicious cake!"

She continued, "God works the same way. Many times we wonder why he would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!"

Dec 22, 2012

Do you know St. Nicholas (modern Santa Claus)?

Do you know St. Nicholas (modern Santa Claus)? 

Children cannot imagine Christmas without Father Christmas or Santa Claus. But how many of us know the tradition behind this image? The first Santa Claus had his roots in the church. His name was Nicholas, bishop of Myra (an ancient city along the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey).

Saint Nicholas – A Re- Distributor of Resources

It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and travelled the countryside helping the poor and sick. Nicholas is said to have saved Myra from starvation by providing food grains to the people. 

 According to tradition, a poor family in Myra had three daughters and that family was not able to conduct their marriage due to the lack of dowries. This made the life of girls to a life of shame and possible prostitution. Bishop Nicholas took it upon himself to supply their dowries, anonymously slipping bags of gold into their home—some say into stockings that were hanging up to dry. In securing their dowries—and so their right to marry—he rescued them from an otherwise degrading destiny. 

The traditions say that he used to handing out treats and coins to children (often leaving them in the shoes). He was saint of Children and poor.

Saint Nicholas and Modern Santa Claus

A Dutch tradition kept St. Nicholas' story alive in the form of Sinterklaas, a bishop who travelled from house to house to deliver treats to children.  The first anglicising of the name to Santa Claus was in a story that appeared in a New York City newspaper in 1773. 

In the book “A History of New York (1809)” Washington Irving characterised Santa as a portly, bearded man who smokes pipe. Irving’s story also marked the first time Santa slid down the chimney.

Clement Moore's 1822 poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas (which is now more commonly referred to as "Twas the Night before Christmas") introduced many of Santa's defining characteristics including he drove a sleigh guided by "eight tiny reindeer."

When Father Christmas first began showing up in illustrations, he wore many different coloured robes: Green, purple, blue, and brown, among others. Beginning in the late 1800s, it became popular to outfit Santa in a red suit. Artist Louis Prang depicted him that way in a series of Christmas cards in 1885, and The New York Times reported on the red garments in 1927. 

Santa Claus – A Marketing tool

The modern image of Santa Claus as the jolly man in the red suit was introduced into American pop culture in 1931, when artist Haddon Sundblom illustrated him that way for a widely-circulated campaign for Coca-Cola. Almost last 200 years the Market used the image of Saint Nicholas (Modern Santa Claus) as a marketing tool and it continues even today. 

Let us liberate the tradition of St. Nicholas from the hands of the Market……..

Saint Nicholas was a saint who lived for the people and understood the pain of the people and distributed food, money and gifts to them. But in today’s modern world he was presented as a marketing tool. It is high time to dig out the traditions about Saint Nicholas and learn from that saint instead of presenting him as a “joker” or “marketing tool”. Let us liberate the image of Saint Nicholas from the hands of market and retain in our imaginations as re-distributor of wealth in this Christmas and New Year 

Let us uphold and practice the way of life of St. Nicholas(a re-distributor of resources) today in our daily life particularly in this Christmas ………

When we offer a glass of water to a thirsty personit is Christmas
When we clothe a naked person with a gown of is Christmas
When we wipe the tears from weeping eyes… it is Christmas
When the spirit of revenge dies in me… is Christmas
When in my heart I no longer want to stay apart….it is Christmas
When I am buried in the being of God……it is Christmas

Dec 21, 2012

Open the door, Our Saviour is waiting outside….

Open the door, Our Saviour is waiting outside….

In our Christmas nativity plays, we watch very lightly about Joseph’s request to the Inn Keeper’s to give a space to his wife and child. We have seen that inn keepers wave their hands in the meaning of NO. There may be many reasons for that. I am not taking that incident literally but that is the NO gesture continues even today even though we have multi-storeyed palaces or buildings with enough space. Today the reasons may be different.

No Space; There was no space in the inns for the Son of Man to take birth. Jesus later said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Denial of space to God in human form was the ‘NO’ sign to the arrival of the Kingdom of God inaugurated in Jesus Christ. It happened in history and still continues in variety of forms. ‘No Space’ is not only a simple denial of space but also ‘NO’ to the CRY of a tired and helpless family.

No Space should be read today as, No to your cry, no to your problems, no to your struggles, pains, hunger, rights, dignity of your body and mind, nakedness (I don’t care…) This alienating world says, “you are other to me and you are an outsider and you don’t have enough qualification to get in to my spaces”…..NO GESTURE continues. However, we allowed the corporates and capitalists of this world to occupy our spaces (spaces at home, language, decisions, mind, and imaginations) instead of the people who desperately need a space.  “For if a person with gold rings and in the fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat there, please’, while the one who is poor you say, ‘stand there’, or, sit at my feet’..”(James 2: 3). We need people to sit at our feet or to stand beside us but we don’t allow them to sit with us (a Superior –inferior relationship). Even God-given spaces are colonised by a few. We are talking about the corporates and their existence but we are silent to the people who are waiting outside for a space in the political, religious, social, economic spheres of lives.

Jesus – An Outsider to the Powers of this World: Our Saviour was an outsider in his birth time, in his earthly life and it is a reality even today. He walked through the outskirts and lived and did his ministry in the outside gates of the city and he killed as an outsider. Many times, people who occupied the spaces thrown stones at him and pushed him outside the mainstream. Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate.”(Matt 23: 37, 38).

We may talk about Jesus, we may sing the songs of Jesus, we may worship in his name, we may do miracles in his name, but it is high time to make sure whether Jesus is an insider or an outsider in all realms of our lives. Jesus said, “ On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name? Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers” (Matt 7: 22, 23).

Powers of the world denied space to Jesus and hence Saviour born at the outside, he was pushed out. Christmas reveals the truth that, Christ was not born inside the realms of powers of this world but outside their realms and thereby the Kingdom of God is at the outside the gates of the Powers of this world. 
An old hermit was once invited to visit the court of the most powerful king of the day.
“I envy a holy man, who is content with so little,” commented the sovereign.
“I envy Your Majesty, who is content with less than I.
“I have the music of the celestial spheres,
“I have the rivers and mountains of the whole wide world,
“I have the moon and the sun, because I have God in my soul.

“Your Majesty, however, has only this kingdom.”

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas – Arrival of a New Order

Christmas – Arrival of a New Order

In the birth of Jesus Christ we find the arrival of a new order in the place of an old order. Birth of the Messiah portrays God’s journey to dismantle the structures of the old order and to bring a new order in that place.

Why rage, anguish and pain in the arrival of the New Order? We could hear the cry of the mothers whose children were murdered by King Herod. Joseph’s face is with full of anguish and pain as he face a death threat to his son. Even though gospels are silent about Mary’ emotions at the time of Jesus’ birth we could see a Stressful, worried and tired Mary’s face, in our imaginations. 

  1. Rage of the Old Order against New Order
When the new divine order inaugurated in Jesus the agents of the old order (Herod) came up with terror and imposed misery. It was a desperate attempt to hold the old order and it created pain and anguish to those who were waiting for the new order in the Messiah. The anger and anxiety of Herod (symbol of old order) created lamentations, tears, fear, in the social space of that time. 

  1. Arrival of the Real King against the Pseudo King:
In Herod we find a Pseudo King but in Jesus we find a real King. When the Pseudo King engages himself in the destructive actions, the real King engages himself in life giving actions. Arrival of Jesus depicts the God’s clear standing against the Pseudo powers of this world and also it exposed their helplessness in the divine interventions.

Old order wants to maintain the same by using power and its cruel forms. The inevitable new order survives even in the midst of threat and murder and thereby gives great hope in the midst of despair and anarchy. But those who engage in the process of new order face the pain, threat and violence and it is vivid in the life of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

  1. Holy Family and the New Order:
The Holy Family bears the deep pain and displacement for many years till the death of King Herod (after the death of Herod they came back and lived in Nazareth). Journey of the Divine New Order happens through the people who are ready to bear pain, anguish and sufferings like the Holy Family of Jesus. 

 Do we carry the vision of New Order inaugurated in Jesus?
Do we ever felt the insecurity in the coming of new order in our lives, families and social spaces?
Where all we see the actions of the Pseudo Kings who create anguish, pain and tears in the lives of innocents who wait for the divine new order today?
Do we ever know about an individual, family, group, community faces threat like the Holy Family faced?
Are we ready to bear the pain, agony, anguish, tears, displacement, for the sake of the new order inaugurated in the birth of Jesus?

Let us remember: 

  1. God entrusts the responsibility of the divine new order in to the hands of the people who are ready to live for the new order even in the midst of pain, agony, anguish, tears, and displacement like Joseph and Mary.
  2. Temporary tears will be wiped out and the shout of joy will be heard from them at the time of new order.
  3. Jesus takes birth only in a family (community/space) which is ready to obey divine words other than the words of the Pseudo Kings of today.
  4. Holy Family became a holy family because of their approach towards the new order(don’t forget that they were considered as enemies in the sight of the Pseudo Kings)
Christmas is the time of the proclamation of the new life and new order. Are we ready to receive the real King so that we may experience the new life and order in our lives?