A Relevant Question and My Comment


Dear Thirumeni,
Hope you are doing well and in good health.

I am writing this letter to share my concern on how much our church capable of catering to the spiritual needs of the current generation and that are coming. The major problem I see is that the worship in our church is losing its life and becoming a dull practice. Most of the people see it as a ceremony rather than a spiritual experience.
I am a common man, not studied any theology. But I can see where the church lacks its ability to inspire and motivate people especially young to the God.
God is the ultimate reality. When we worship God, we should be in that reality otherwise we can’t experience his presence (John 4:24).
How realistic is our worship? In other words, how much spiritual is it? In my own experience and at least for some people I know, it’s not up to the expectation. People come to church out of some obligation rather than any compelling reason. Where we went wrong? Let me point out what my heart says.
1) Most of the songs we use in worship are unable to convey its  meaning. People are not singing but chanting these songs. I heard one Catholic say: ‘I didn’t understand your Quarbana’. Sadly we also don’t.
2) Use of Suriani is also has the same effect. Common people can understand and enjoy small words like ‘Amen’, ‘Halleluiah’ but beyond that it is meaningless, boring and thus incapable of filling with the Holy Spirit.
What we can do?
1) Re-phase/rewrite the songs used in Qurbana so that common people can understand and enjoy
2) Introduce new songs which are rich in meaning. (Psalm 96:1)
3) Persuade priests to use Malayalam than Suriyani
What happen if we don’t act?
1) People who take their spiritual life seriously go for other churches and fellowships
2) People who don’t understand spirituality a big thing but see things more pragmatic sense ceases to come to the church
3) People who stick with the church may become immature in their emotional, social and professional life I expect your valuable opinion in this matter
With Prayers,
?

Dear ?
Hope you are doing fine by the grace of God. Thank you for your patience.
I fully follow the issues and concerns raised by you.
Most of the traditionally accepted institutions and patterns are being challenged now world over, not only in religious sphere but in all political, economic and even ethical areas of human life. It is really hard to asses the situation for a final answer on any thing and make a change. The recent movie sons in Malayalam is a typical, of course in a peripheral level, example to this. The so called democratic movements and the political disturbances in counties show the same situation. Political parties also face the same crisis. What happens in CPM, the recent statements of Mr. V. M. Sudheeran in congress party, what happens in BJP etc. also are signs of this. The recent news reports related to Orthodox, Jacobite, Catholic, Marthoma, protestant Churches and their leaders in Kerala are no exception. The news we get about the leaders of the so called charismatic and pentecostal communities are also in the same line. All that you hear and see in the news may not be based on correct information, but certainly shows the mood shift in the society at large.
Yes I agree with you that the liturgical prayers, songs and symbols are many a time not so clear to common people. There are two things I would say related to this. One, religion itself has this incomprehensibility and mystery element in it and every thing will not be understood in that world. If understanding in its fullness achieved, even God will become irrelevant non-existent (I must say, you quoting Biblical passage will not impress me for reason of Biblical scholarship the world has achieved. on the other hand the issues raised are quite relevant without the reference). Second, these days people, with their changing environment and growing individualism, have expectations variant one from another. So it is really hard to come to a common understanding on any thing. There will always be a strong resistance to any kind of change that will be initiated in the Church. You can see this even in families not only with respect to spirituality but also of ‘lay man’s day to day life’ and hence families are getting disintegrated and divorce rate is rocket high. This of course is no excuse for any serious attempt on the part of the people to make sense of being in the presence of the divine. But it simply is a herculean task. I can testify that attempts in our Church, though in a small scale, are being done in various levels and areas. What I see in Sukhada in Kolenchery is one among them. There are others too who may be doing this or similar things. Of course it may not be up to the expectation of every one, even me for that matter. Again what these people are doing may not be in full conformity of the  common faith of the community (I do not say it does not, only saying ‘may not’ in its details). So what shall we do under the circumstance? I would say, find the footing where you are and then search for a fellowship within where you will be more comfortable while again continuously raising the voice for constant change. I can assure you will not find a perfect place any where in the world. But you will not stop creating a better world where you are right now. I, sure believe that I as a leader in the community has more responsibility than any lay person in the community, which I should be fulfilling. God help us in making His community a living one.
Regards and prayers
Thirumeni

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. V.G. Saju
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 11:23:02

    Dear Thirumeni,
    I can’t fully agree with the questioner. In my experience, our all ‘koodasas’ is the best than the others. Even some of my friends(from other churhes) appreciate us for its richness of spirit. If some one has doubts, please clear it from priests or by other ways. Chanting Syriac words or sentences is another paculiarity of our H.Qurbana. Without it, it is just like ‘ uppillatha kanji’. Surely one’s likes and dislikes are different from others. In my view, we should hand over our tradtions that we got from our forefathers to next generation without any change. Teach our faith and traditions through sunday school and other spiritual organizations. With prayers and regards,
    Saju.

    Reply

  2. Yuhanon Meletius
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 14:32:37

    This is just what I said. Some people like the old way, some want a thorough change. Some want few changes and some others several elements changed. Some want new hymns and some other want to retain. Some want more time for sermon, some do not want sermon at all. What can we do? Have service for each individual? This is the confusion we the leaders face.
    Thirumeni

    Reply

  3. nilu
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 13:57:45

    Dear Thirumeni,

    I would like to share my own experience.I was born in the C.S.I Church and became Orthodox after marriage. I used to go to orthodox church even before marriage and never understood most of the hymns or their significance, even one year after marriage. But then I decided to take it as a serious meditation to understand the kurbana, and the hymns. I am really thankful that your blog and other online resources have helped me in understanding a lot about Orthodoxy, our Church and our Worship. My eyes are slowly being opened. Now I enjoy worshipping with the sheema naamaskaram too in my daily prayers, even though I don’t know the eight colours! But how beautiful is the hymnography and the underlying thoughts!
    When I hear the cradle orthodox complain(includes my husband!)about the long worship and hymns, I always tell them that they have a Pearl of great price in their hands. If the Children are taught the meaning and significance of our worship at home, just like they would study Physics or Maths, then surely they will enjoy it. This is what I feel from my own humbling experience.
    With Prayers and many thanks,
    Nilu.

    Reply

    • Yuhanon Meletius
      Jul 31, 2012 @ 16:04:34

      Thank you Nilu for your comment. It is like some one searching for the spectacles every where when it is right on their nose. We who were born Orthodox take it for granted thinking that they know things as they grew up with it. Only a seeker can see the meaning.
      God be with you
      Thirumeni

      Reply

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