Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and songs.
Psalms 95: 1-2
The stillness that lingers in the hall provided a moment for quiet contemplation. In a short opening prayer, the pastor distinctively dedicated the musical instruments, the hymn, the worship team, the speakers and all elements of the worship, to the hand of God. He implored the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit with the gathering and the shut-ins.
The worship team consists of Mrs Mankhodim, Mrs Nemkhanmawi, Ms Florence Sonkim, L/Upa Songzalian, Ms Ching Lydia, Mr. Pumsuanlal, Mr. Thangsuanmung and Mr. Ginminlun.
When keyboardist Paulalsiam punched in the chords for Dongzahau Tombing’s masterpiece “Hong Phatning”- I’ll Praise You, it only took a couple of heartbeats to figure out what the first selected hymn for the day was. In sync with the worship team’s lead, the congregation sang their conviction to croon praises just as the birds in the sky does. The multi-media display of the lyrics by Mr Rinom stood by to assist. And when the team steered the gathering into “Nearer, My God to Thee” BNL No. 95, the tone turned personal; It reminded one of Jacob’s ladder, it reminded one of the sinking Titanic, and of course the insignificance of anything other than the soul. Then the worship continued in the form of mass prayer. Towards the end of the mass, the team led the congregation into chanting-
“Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art! (repeat)
The song leader, Thangsuanmung’s concluding prayer was endorsed with “amen”. The faint thread of musical solo revived once again to continue the eulogy back from the first verse- “O Lord, My God..” Meanwhile the offering bowl was passed on through the rows of seat attended by the ushers. Upa Kaithang pleaded upon God to accept the offering as precious in His sight.
Three youngsters who have underwent water Baptism the previous Sunday, in confirmation of their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, were given Baptismal Certificate. Upa Damsawmthang, Local Chairman, handed over the certificates.
The Church was fortunate to host two guests. Pastor Lawrence Gangte needed no official introduction as his had been a familiar face already. He intimated the brothers and sisters in Christ about his plans to administer baptism to new converts in Bhatinda, Punjab wherefrom he would return to his base in Balrampur, said he needed a overarching guidance of God. That’s a prayer request.
It was the other guest who was fresh to the gathering. Evan Sawmthang serves the Lord through the India Evangelical Mission (IEM), as is Pastor Lawrence. Having a Nepali look earned him a nickname of Gurung. He feels at home in Dehradun as he shuttles between one EBCC family to the other, where resides a handful of them. The high school drop-out found it an honor to teach class-X students, which he acknowledged as God’s manifestation in his life. He had just one request- pray for a new chapel to worship in Dehradun.
The spiritual nourishment for the day is drawn from Matthew chapter 22, verses 34-40.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Amid the spirit of fraternity between the Pharisees and Sadducees, slight differences existed between the two groups.
-Pharisees accepted the Law of Moses and oral tradition side by side as authoritative. They believed in angels, the devil and are fanatically upholding the Jewish tradition.
-Also Jewish by lineage, the Sadducees were able to tolerate even the Greek culture. They didn’t accept oral tradition. They didn’t believe in angels, the devil or the theory of resurrection. But they had the knack of studying or digging into the literal implication of the Law of Moses. They bifurcated the Ten Commandments into 613 classes- 248 affirmative and 365 negative.
Connection with the master as per the Old Testament (OT) tradition hangs on individual’s conformity with the Ten Commandments as also sacrificial offerings. Author of a thesis, “What is the real connection with God in the OT?”. Pastor Nenglian Vualnam took personal interest in the topic of “Relationship”.
According to the New Testament (NT) the first pre-requisite of a Relationship with God call for ‘Loving God at the expense of everything (v 37)- the Heart (inner affection), the Soul (the one element that doesn’t die) and the Mind (including the imaginational thoughts). Thus a true relationship naturally leads to change in ‘value system’
Secondly, true relationship with the master is manifested through “Loving the things that the Master Loves” (v 39). The biblical mandates in this direction are evident through the lines such as-
■Love thy neighbour as thyself ( Matthew 22:39)
■Love one another (St John 13:34)
■Love the Lost Soul and pray for them ( Matthew 28:19-20)
A glaring example of such Love was found in the case of a white missionary who pleaded to God just before landing in a Tokyo airport, “O Lord make me love these complete strangers, just the way you Love them”
The short and sweet message was concluded with a prayer. Before walking the isles towards the Church entrance, the pastor reminded/announced-
-the call for meeting of BDF executive in Conference after the service
-the inter-departmental fellowship with Rev. Dr. Gin Neithang and wife on their arrival on Thursday, the 22nd from Chiangmai
-the closure of registration for the Young Couples Seminar on that day
-the upcoming Sunday worship service to be addressed by the Guest from Chiangmai
-upcoming Bless India Festival in Thyagaray Stadium from March 29 to 31
-BDF and BYF fellowships continuing, so are the prayer cell wise fellowships
With minimum words and maximum emphasis, Upa Dr. Langkham blessed the congregation with benediction.
Even as the congregation was shaking hands with the anointed ones on their way to the tea stand, the worship team couldn’t help but plunge into another hymn “Jesus Loves Even Me”. It’s a way to make up with the paucity of time. They prepared for the coming Sunday. And they shouted to the Lord, praising the wonders of His mighty love. All at the same time.
@T.Lianpu (Media Team)