Nov 30, 2016

Christmas

Dear family members,

We are entering the advent season. Advent season is a western way of approaching Christmas. The Eastern way of approaching the same is through 25 days lent.

The Mar Thoma church been Eastern and Reformed stands in-between. We celebrate Christmas with all the celebration that marks the advent season in the western church. This is evident in the various decorations we put up. But the Mar Thoma church also gives importance to lent.

One way to celebrate Christmas is to prepare oneself extensively for it. The more honourable the guest, the greater the preparation at our houses.

Christmas celebrates the birth of God as a poor, vulnerable human in a manger. It was a choice to leave aside glory and abundance (Philippians 2:6-11) and choose to identify with the pain and suffering of the last, the least and the lost.

Can we do the same? 25 days of Lent is one such method. Simple : One chooses to avoid something desirable, even one's own favourite food, and partake in the withdrawal symptoms and the discomfort it causes. Couple with it more time deliberately spent in meditating upon Christmas (through Bible Reading, and prayer more often). Can we prepare our *inner Bethlehem* by choosing to avoid one or more pleasures till the 25th?

In the Byzantine Churches and the Egyptian Coptic churches, this lent begins 40 days prior. In the Syrian tradition churches like ours, the lent is observed for 25 days as early as the sixth century. The goal of Lent is purification and renewal of ourselves.

Wish you a blessed 25 days of preparation for the Lord's birth. Give it a try. Will be praying for each one of you.

Yours in Christ,

Manu achen and Ann Kochama