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January 8th, 2012

Story : Tears Become Worship

Tears become worship

Once a Jewish Rabbi started his prayers for the people in the congregation. He wanted that God should listen to his prayers and forgive the sins of all those who had assembled in the synagogue. That moment he heard the voice of God. It was something like this: “Let Tam pray for you. If Tam prays for you, I shall forgive your sins and bless you.”

When the Rabbi heard the voice of God he was terrified. However he gathered courage and turning to the congregation, he asked, “Tam, where are you? Come forward quickly!” The Rabbi did not know who Tam was. As he was waiting anxiously for Tam, a poor man came forward trembling all over with fear and anxiety.

As the poor man was standing there quiet puzzled not knowing why he was called, the Rabbi told him what he heard from God. Tam told the Rabbi, “I will pray for you, let me go and take the prayer.” But Tam returned to synagogue with a small earthen pot in his hand. He raised the pot and prayed like this: “Holy God, You know that I don’t know how to pray. But whatever I have I offer You. This pot contains my tears.”

“When I pray to you in the night, I remember my wife and children. My eyes get filled with tears when I think that they cannot get to Synagogue because they do not have proper clothes. Then I remember the poor people and the beggars. I see how they suffer from bitter cold, scorching heat, hunger and thirst. Then I cry again. Before those tears are dry I remember how we brothers scream and fight with one another. Then again I cry. I further remember how you suffer and cry remembering our trespasses. My sorrow then overflows beyond bounds. All these tears I have collected in this pot.”

The prayer of Tam was heard by God and He blessed all those who were present in the Synagogue.

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The Bible asks us to be always ready because the Son of Man may come at the most unexpected time. Reciting prayers by rote in a mechanical fashion, without meditating upon their content and meaning will not bring Heavenly blessings. Build up your life by meaningful prayers. Become aware of the miraculous strength of prayers. All prayers reach God and He responds.

The divine spirit that flows into us through prayers will help us to face any crisis of life with equanimity and optimism. God knows all our needs. What we need to do is keep close proximity to God. Jesus asks us to pray constantly. It is when we pray for others that God showers us with greater blessings. So let’s become children of prayers.

It is when we pray regularly, heartily and sincerely that God interferes in our lives and good things happens to us. Let us believe in God firmly and behave sincerely with our brethren.

– – – written by Surjith Jacob

December 14th, 2011

Story : The W in CHRISTMAS

The W in CHRISTMAS

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations – extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a 6-year-old. For weeks, he’d been memorizing songs for his school’s “Winter Pageant.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as “Christmas,” I didn’t expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love” I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snow-caps upon their heads. Those in the front row – center stage – held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then, “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down – totally unaware her letter “M” appeared as a “W”.

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”.

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

“C H R I S T W A S L O V E”

And, I believe, He still is.

Amazed in His presence…. humbled by His love. Have a blessed Christmas season.

November 28th, 2011

The Language of Kuttan

The Language of Kuttan

The love of Christ is simple. It does not need apologetics to defend it.

I write this note in honor of an elderly gentleman named Kuttan. Kuttan was an old man in his eighties when he died. I had the privilege of seeing Kuttan few weeks before his death. Kuttan remains in my memories. The language common to me and Kuttan is the subject of this note. It is the universal language that crosses race, religion, culture, age, gender and even language-the language taught by Christ and instilled by the Spirit of God in every human being.

Kuttan was a Hindu. Kuttan did not understand English. Kuttan did not solve calculus. Kuttan never heard about Socrates or Plato. Kuttan never saw a computer. Kuttan did not understand theology or Christian apologetics. Kuttan found Jesus and then Kuttan died. Kuttan’s wife speaks about the God of Christians even today.

Kuttan was a coolie. The British adopted the word coolie from Hindi. Coolie is an unskilled laborer hired for low wages. Kuttan worked everyday as a coolie till he reached mid eighties. He worked as a day laborer till about a month before his death. Kuttan had no life insurance or health insurance policy. Kuttan never had a bank account and did not even know about it. But Kuttan exemplifies everything beautiful about the creation of Christ, the invaluable human soul.

Kuttan was my neighbor in India. My father employed him in our fields. I remember the smile of Kuttan since the earliest days of my life. He was kind. He used to tell us about the best time to plant seeds, to till the land and to harvest. He used to dress the trees and climb the coconut trees. He was a handy man. Sometimes he worked as a porter and carried heavy loads. My parents were teachers. When we were kids, Kuttan or his wife will check on us, if our parents were late to come back from school. He did this in spite of the fact that we had a nanny to look after our affairs.

I went to medical school, migrated to England and later to USA. I forgot Kuttan. I forgot the beautiful world of Kuttan and the land of Kuttan, where time stands still. Kuttan and his wife never forgot me. For Kuttan and his wife, I was their “little Tony”. Kuttan thought in straight lines. I thought in convoluted lines. Kuttan lived in a natural world. I lived in a synthetic world.

I later heard about Kuttan through my sister. My sister, who lives in USA, went to India. She visited Kuttan. Kuttan affectionately asked about me. Kuttan and his wife had many ailments. They were hoping that one day I will return and heal them. Truly, I never thought about Kuttan. I had dead lines to meet and unending examinations to pass. When my sister returned from India, she told me about Kuttan.

Finally, I remembered Kuttan. I remembered my lost innocence. I remembered the faith and hope of Kuttan. Kuttan and his wife hoped and believed that I will return one day to cure them of their ailments. I did return to India. I visited Kuttan. The monsoon was over. Kuttan and his wife were in their hut. The roof was leaking. Kuttan was not working any more. His blood vessels were blocked. A bad ulcer was infecting his bone. We arranged for Kuttan’s medical care.

The nuns in the nearby convent were already visiting Kuttan with food and clothes. The nuns arranged Kuttan and his wife to be transferred to an old age home run by the nuns. Kuttan had told his friends that he and his wife would commit suicide, if he could not feed his wife. The good Lord saved Kuttan’s soul, thanks to the nuns. Kuttan loved the God of Christians. He saw the love of God. Few weeks later, Kuttan died in the old age home run by the nuns. Kuttan’s wife is still with the nuns. She has accepted the gracious love of the nuns, and the love of the God of the nuns.

The love of Christ is simple. It does not need apologetics to defend it. It only needs the heart of Kuttan and the heart of a nun, working together for the greater glory of God.

Love is beautiful. The creation of God is even more beautiful because it manifests the presence of God’s love.

– – – written by Dr. Jacob C Tony

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