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Theme for the Month: The Paradox of Passion and Consolation "For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ" (2 Corinthians 1: 5)


The Biblical drama-film, The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson (2004), polarized audiences, although it turned out be the highest-grossing Christian film of all time. The film primarily covers the first twelve hours before the death of Jesus Christ, with the emphasis on the Passion, thus the title. The mixed feelings from the audiences was mainly because we hear, read and understand the Passion of Christ, but we are not prepared to experience a visible depiction through art. Most of us may like to imagine suffering but not experience it, and may want to be protected from it. It was clear to the apostle Paul that God does not protect his people from suffering, but He journeys with them in their suffering.

The weeks before Good Friday and Easter, we are going to get closer in our understanding of the Suffering of Christ as we do every season. Our Lenten Theme, 'Parables of Reconciliation,' is enabling us to meet the different events and contexts, fully preparing Christ for the ultimate suffering and shame, and the death on the cross. The voices and palms of celebration on Palm Sunday slowly dims to give way to a dramatic trial, unlawful detention and demonstration of the power of the Empire.

Paul's writing in his second letter to the Corinthian Community begins in an unusual manner in Ch.1: 3-7, and talks about the Sufferings or Passion of Christ. The suffering of Christ can become a means of abundant consolation and grace amid our own suffering. It can unite us with Christ, so that we too can share in both his suffering for others in the abundant overflow of his consolation that spills over through him and within us, and then on, to others Paul had a radical view of suffering, which was different because, trials and discomfort associated with the advancement of Christ's Kingdom is God's way of allowing us to become more like Jesus, to suffer for the gospel, just as Jesus suffered for it (Philippians 1:29; 3:10). In fact, Paul's understanding of God, which is foundational with a Jewish understanding, is now understood in Jesus Christ as "the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation" (v.3), which is a liturgical formula frequently used in the Psalms (41:13; 72:19). In Jesus Christ, we now have a different way of interpreting all that happens in our lives. All our sufferings now become the means of consolation for others, as they go through the same suffering. Suffering for Paul was to rediscover God as God of suffering, and also as a God of consolation in Jesus Christ.

Our Bereavement Support was started more than a year ago with the goal of sharing this gift of consolation to one of our own, who is suffering because of a loss. It has been a moving experience to be with the family in those difficult moments, pray, console, and support the family by sharing from the Bereavement Support Fund. The stories of the people and their emotions of gratitude in a time of grief are difficult to express in words. These small gestures affirm our fellowship as a Community of Faith and People of God. We thank you for your generous support and prayers for this new initiative. We request you to continue to support the Bereavement Support Fund through your self-denial offering during this Season of Lent.

Looking forward to the beginning of classes with St. Andrew's Centre for Learning on March 13th , and the initiatives with St. Andrew's Career Hub. We are deeply grateful for the overwhelming response and interest for these initiatives. It has potential to grow into a big vision with wider goals. Thanking everyone who are toiling so hard to make this happen.

We are happy to inform you that all the ministries of our church have started meeting physically following all norms. We look forward to the meeting of our Sunday School children starting on March 14th.

May our journey during this Season of Lent be meaningful for us and for others.

Your Presbyter
Rev. Dr. Dexter S. Maben
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