The worshippers have five minutes of quiet contemplation.
David’s song breaks the silence when the Pastor reads aloud Psalms 46:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”.
The scripture appeals to the gathering in the wake of the threats against the North-East Indians and also violent protests against the anti-Islamic film ‘Innocence of Muslims’. Each member of the Church being susceptible to such violent attacks, he praises God for His loving cares and begs for their spiritual and physical wellbeing.
With the selected hymns, “Krist sisan pha vang a..” , “Lamdang lua sa in”- My Savior’s Love (BNL 168) and “Gamla pi Mual tung ah” – The Rugged Cross (BNL 87), the worshippers immerse in the spirit. The power supply being pathetic, the lead by Worship Team (WT) with an unplugged music consisting of an acoustic guitar and traditional drum makes the worship inspiring in a different way. The disciples pour out to the Lord in prayer.
The congregation rises to the 4th hymn, “Kalvari Mual tung tua zingsang khat”- Blessed Redeemer (BNL 121) as the offering bowl was brought in. Upa Thiankhanmuan dedicates the same to the Lord in prayer.
After a brief report on the ‘Spiritual Retreat’ in Hyderabad and his subsequent tour to Bangalore which was extremely blessed with remarkable levels of attendances, the Pastor comes to the topic of the day, ‘Spiritual Warfare’.
As in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ there is no amplification of the natural pitch. And as in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ the message somehow gets across.
The Whole Armor of God-Ephesians 6:10-18 (NKJV) is read out by the Pastor.
The life of a victor is not absence of wars and battles. It is crucial to know the strategy adopted by the enemy. ‘Knowing the enemy’ forms a whole topic that is being elaborated in the next Sunday.
The Pastor prefers to give guidance on the desirable equipment protocols in the fight against the enemy i.e. Satan. For the forces that a Christian fights against are not of flesh and blood, but are the evil spirits that controls the world. There is a unique way of fighting against such forces. Head of the Catholics, the Pope himself has once observed that the elements of disruptions in the world need to be fought with love. Thus fine tuning of one’s thinking and conduct with God’s ways is indispensable.
The strength to ask forgiveness of our tormentors while being tormented is a challenge a Christian must take, in the accordance with the example set by Jesus. All Christians are perpetual warriors in the Spirit. In fact the great counselor Joyce Meyer states that the mind is a battlefield. So the fight has a target standard worth achieving which is victory over the World, the forces of which in that context always manifest itself through human imperfections and frailties like making of worldly choices, greed, arrogance, etc.
An eminent Christian evangelist once played video game with his son. In the course of playing the game, under pressure of certain situation in the game, his son happened to utter the ‘F’ word. While he was battling against emotion of anger, God said to him, “Satan is trying to snatch your son”. So, hugging his son he pleaded, “My son, Satan has tried to snatch you away from God. We should not give him a chance”. With this story the pastor underscores the need to ask oneself how far one takes the struggle against Satan.
Hence the indispensable need of arming oneself with God’s complete armor:
(i) The girdle of Truth. While writing the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul was in prison, always exposed to the sight of full armored guards. Sheath is attached with the girdle worn by the guards. The sheath moves about freely without causing discomfort to the wearer, even though the knife or sword comes in handy. Therefore the girdle should be a belt of truth. As Jesus himself has said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’.
(ii) Breastplate of Righteousness. The heart of this matter is found in the honesty of God fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Putting faith in Jesus Christ endows one a share in God’s honesty.
(iii) Feet shod with the Gospel of Peace. The feet is mentioned even in the Romans 10:15 in connection with the gospel.
(iv) Shield of Faith – to ward off fiery darts.
(v) Helmet of Salvation- this is also certainly for protection and better sight.
(vi) Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(vii) Supplication in the Spirit – In the absence of prayer, the rest will come to naught. Prayer should be consistent, focused and unselfish.
Concluding the sermon in prayer, the Pastor goes ahead in serving the Lord’s Supper.
Holy Communion – is done in obedience, in remembrance of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s also part of witnessing and propagating the gospel.
One who decides to take part in it is advised to retrospect oneself. For the Lord ‘knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished’. Fundamentally no one is good enough to partake of salvation, except through faith in the Son of God, by grace. As such discretion is recommended in partaking of the Holy Communion.
The Minister reads out Mark 14:22-24 New International Version (NIV) as the elders come forward to assist
22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.
Althrough the Minister quotes noteworthy lines and phrases of Christ and reminds the partakers of the significance of the Lord’s Supper. George Bennard’s ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ (BNL 87) is sung till all the 200 worshippers have had their share. Thereafter the Minister prays for grant of a life of victory to the partakers of the symbolic flesh and blood of Christ.
The congregation rises to the last hymn, “Simlei haksatna tuang nung siah in” Beyond the earthly anguish (BNL 466).
The tea fellowship and customary greeting that follows benediction, is a washed with a reprise by the WT of the last hymn.
By- Lianpu Tonsing