Monday, January 28, 2013

Football in Religion

In the year 2005 I bought an MIG flat from DDA for about 900000 INR. I was able to mobilize the fund by raising housing loan from IDBI Bank. The repayment period stretches for a period of 20 years, which will put financial strain on me for major part of my service life. Even today a six figure amount is inspiring awe. 
When the Secretary of the Church informs that the Church had received an amount of 75, 30,000/-  2012, that was like saying, "By the standards of the Financial Year (2005-06), your Church has earned so much as to affort the cost of 8 flats in Delhi. The estimated receipt for 2013 is 85, 95,000/- and estimated expenditure, 85, 20,000/- INR.
The Pastor cheers up the Church members by presenting smiling faces of just married couples, returnees from home visit and first timers and of course winners of championship in a football tournament conducted by Church of North India. And the trophy is accompanied with cash award of 5000 INR. And that is reducing the figure of revenue projected to be earned during the calendar year by five thousand. That surely is a new way of mission work ! 
“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.” – (NIV)
Rev. Nengzakhup, Executive Director of NECTAR, delivers a spiritual message about the trial of faith. Based on the scripture from Genesis 12:1-4, he says that God had called Abraham to ‘leave his country ..and kindred’’ for a purpose, which is a metaphor worthy of application in every Christian life.
The conduct of Mizos/Zomis in Delhi, according to the guest speaker, is crucial not only for spiritual life, but even for their material destiny. He urges the Delhites to offer unconditional obedience, sacrifice and faith in order to be a source of blessing.
Citing Abraham’s determination even after a couple of mis-steps, the speaker emphasizes the need to cling on to God no matter what.
The sermon with little verve is convincing nevertheless. In fact NECTAR run by the speaker has churned out 250 plus graduates, who spread out across diverse cultures and region through the entire north-eastern region, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, New Delhi and West Bengal. NECTAR products also cross international borders to reach countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia. Presently 5 ongoing Bible Translation projects are at hand.
The congregation rose to the hymn, ‘Toupa’n hon gup leh’- If God be with us.
The service concludes with benediction from the Pastor.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Gospel According Mark

The Gospel of Mark is selected for study throughout EBCC Churches the world over during 2013
Of the four gospels, the book of Mark is the shortest work. It is concise and interesting as compared to others like the gospel of Matthew.
The good news about the death, the resurrection and the saving work of Jesus Christ, the gospel is truth coming from God, conveyed through the apostles/prophets, which becomes flesh. Hence Jesus Christ is the gospel.
The son of Mary of Jerusalem, Mark had hosted most fellowships of the early Christians. During the last days Mark helped established a Church at Alexandria. He accompanied Apostle Paul and Barnabas during their first Missionary journey, but left the journey midway. His rejection for the second journey as a result of it cost Paul the company of his partner Barnabas who, being extremely fond of Mark, eventually drifted away.
Scholars ask where was Mark when he wrote the gospel. The place could either be (i) Alexandria; or (ii) Rome, for he was seen in Rome with the apostle Paul; or (iii) Antioch in Galilee, his own home town as a Jew.
Time of authorship
The gospel of Mark is believed to have been written about 65 A.D. Between 66 to 70 AD, there was the Jewish War which culminated in the destruction in 70 AD, of Jerusalem. Since such account is not found, the in the gospel is most likely to have been written before such events take place.
It is worth mentioning here that Rome burned in 65 AD and Nero squarely blamed the Christians for having started the fire. A belief circulated amongst the Christians that Nero himself plotted the fire to give a bad name to Christians. Closely related to the reaction of believers to the situation by meek silence, the gospel basically encourages believers to be strong till the end in preparation for the second coming of Christ.
Written for whom?  The gospel is obviously written for the gentiles in Rome. The words of Jesus Christ spoken in Aramaic are translated into Greek, the language spoken by the gentiles.
The purpose. The Jews waited eagerly for the coming of Messiah. The gospel of Mark testifies to the fact that the Messiah is there in flesh and blood. Half of the book is about the teaching of Christ, the rest being his suffering. It advocates attaining triumph through suffering and death.
The fast pace gospel is not trying to give an exhaustive account of the time before, during and after the birth of Christ. Instead the gospel goes straight to the main purpose of encouraging the believers to follow Jesus’s example of suffering and eventual triumph.
Firstly, the gospel of Mark kicked off with the baptism and temptation of Jesus.
Second, the gospel from the last part of chapter 1 to chapter 10 mentions Jesus’s work in Galilee and chapter 11 onwards dwells with His work in Jerusalem and Bethany.
Chapters 14, 15 and 16 are about the Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection and the eventual installation of a regime of love and peace upon the earth.