REFLECTING ON THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTMAS
As the Christmas season is here, I find myself contemplating the profound question: Why Christmas? In a world filled with diverse celebrations and holidays, what makes Christmas so special, so universally cherished? Beyond the glittering lights, festive decorations, and the exchange of gifts, Christmas holds a deeper meaning that transcends cultural boundaries. It is a time when the spirit of giving, compassion and joy permeates the air, bringing people together in a shared celebration of love and hope. At its core, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, a symbol of love, peace, and salvation in Christian faith. The story of the Nativity, with its humble manger, guiding star, and angelic proclamation, has been passed down through generations, echoing through the centuries as a timeless narrative of hope and redemption. While the religious significance remains central, Christmas has evolved into a cultural phenomenon that extends far beyond the boundaries of Christianity. It is a time when people go out of their way to bring joy to others, embodying the spirit of selflessness and compassion. Moreover, Christmas serves as a reminder of the importance of family and community. In a fast-paced world where individuals are often consumed by their daily routines, the Christmas celebration becomes a sanctuary for togetherness. Families gather around festive tables, friends reunite, and communities come together to celebrate the bonds that tie them. The warmth of shared laughter, the joy of shared meals, and the comfort of shared traditions create a sense of belonging that is unparalleled.
Another aspect that adds to the charm of Christmas is the sense of nostalgia it invokes as we sing and listen to the Christmas songs. The season is imbued with memories of childhood wonder, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas morning. These nostalgic moments create a bridge between generations, as grandparents share stories with grandchildren, passing down the enchantment of the season from one era to the next. In a world often marked by challenges and uncertainties, Christmas serves as a beacon of hope. This season encourages us to focus on the positive aspects of life, fostering an attitude of gratitude. It prompts us to reflect on the year gone by, acknowledging both triumphs and tribulations, and to look forward with optimism to the possibilities that the coming year holds.
Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year to all.
Dr. Hrangthan Chhungi
A/D – Church, Public Relations and Resource Mobilisation Department
Allahabad Auxiliary United Candlelight Service is one of the oldest activities, which is taking place every year at the beginning of the month of December. Historically, this initiative started more than 50 years before to bring all the churches from various denominations together at the beginning of the advent season under the banner of BSI. CNI Holy Trinity Church has been the venue for more than 50 years. It was with great joy that on December 3, 2023, the United Candlelight Service was held at CNI Holy Trinity Church with more than 750 people. Choirs from 12 Churches & Christian Institutions participated representing various denominations. Rev. Manish Zaidi, Presbyter of CNI Holy Trinity Church and Chairman of BSI, Allahabad Auxiliary welcomed the gathering. Rev. Gershombhai Khristi, Auxiliary Secretary (Pro-tem) welcomed and presented Hindi/English Bilingual Bible to the Rt. Rev. Morris Dan, Bishop of CNI Lucknow. The Bishop shared God’s Word and emphasized the importance of the unity of the Church. He appreciated the ministry of BSI in strengthening the local Churches by providing Scriptures in various languages for many years.
DIMAPUR AUXILIARY – MOYON YNTHIING BIBLE RELEASE
The Moyon Ynthiing Bible was released on 5th December 2023 at Penaching Baptist Church, Chandel District, Manipur. Rev. Robertson, Pastor of Kapaam Baptist Church moderated the releasing ceremony. Rev. Ng. Titus, Translator gave a brief report stating that Moyon Ynthing Bible took twelve years and eleven days to complete the translation. While appreciating the Advisers Zambolis Sawkmei, Rev. Dr. Along Jamir and Elder Vanlaltlana, Rev. Ng. Titus acknowledged Checking Committee Members for their constant support in assisting him. He also appreciated the leadership of the Moyon Naga Baptist Association and Pastors and leaders from different walks of life for their support. Rev. Dr. Yiepetso Wezah, Auxiliary Secretary, Dimapur released the Moyon Ynthiing Bible on behalf of the General Secretary Rev. Dr. Kavito G. Zhimo. He shared the words of God from Hebrews 4:12-13 encouraging them to meditate upon the words of God for it is active, alive and changes the life of individuals, churches and society. A copy of Moyon Ynthiing Bible was presented to the Translator, Checking Committee members and a few Church leaders. They also collected offering for the BSI, which was greatly appreciated. The programme came to a close with the Benediction by Rev. Dr. Longam Chara, Former Executive Secretary, MNBA.
BOMBAY AUXILIARY – A CHRISTMAS PROGRAM WITH VISUALLY CHALLENGED PEOPLE
Mary Jones Fellowship of the Bombay Auxiliary organised a Christmas Program for the visually challenged people on Saturday, 9th December 2023 at Rahator Memorial Methodist Church, Parel Mumbai. Approximately 100 visually challenged people gathered in the program. The Christmas message was shared by Rev. Clement M. Christian, Auxiliary Secretary, Bombay Auxiliary. Participants from the visually challenged presented songs and some of them shared their testimony how they accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The Auxiliary Secretary distributed the Audio Bibles and walking sticks to the visually challenged people. Rev. Alfred Tiwade, Presbyter-in-charge of St. Mary the Virgin Church concluded the meeting with closing prayer. The meeting was followed by lunch. The Bombay Auxiliary thank Mr. Caleb Martin Hilton Associate Director (Media and Special Audience) for arranging the Audio Bibles for the blind people on an urgent basis. Also thanks to the members of Mary Jones Fellowship of Bombay Auxiliary for their generous donations for food and other arrangements. Our heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Subala Chandran, the church relation’s director of Vision for Visually Challenged Foundation for her help.
Celebrations of Bible Sunday in various Churches
On the first and second Sundays of December, various churches in Kerala Auxiliary observed Bible Sunday. During the Worship, special prayer for the ministry of Bible Society were offered & special offerings were collected for the BSI Ministry. On December 3rd the Auxiliary Secretary attended Bible Sunday at St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church, Pattoor, Trivandrum. He shared from the Word of God and about BSI ministry. We are grateful to the support of vicar, Rev. Dr. Philip George and the congregation. We appreciate the great cordination of Chev. Dr. Koshy M. George (Regional Co-ordinator), Mr. John Samuel (Pattoor Branch Secretary) and all other leaders for their support.
On December 10th Rev. Jacob Antony Koodathinkal, the Auxiliary Secretary attended Bible Sunday at CSI Church Nedumkandom and led the Divine Holy Communion Service, shared from God’s Word and introduced BSI ministry. We really appreciate the great support of Rev Joseph Mathew, vicar and president of Kattappana Branch; Rev. O. J. George; Sri. T. Joykumar, Diocesan registrar and the members of the Church. At CSI District Church, Nedumangad, Trivandrum, on December 10th as part of Bible Sunday observation, the Co-ordinator of Trivandrum Central Region, Chev. Dr. Koshy M. George shared from the Word and introduced BSI ministry. We are thankful for the leadership and support of vicar, Rev. T.W. Sugathakumar and the congregation.
Christmas Celebration: Different Branches of the Auxiliary
The recently reformed BSI Elappara Branch of Idukki Region conducted Ecumenical Christmas Carol Night at CSI Holy Trinity Church, Elappara on 3rd December 2023. The Choir members from different church denominations rendered melodious carol songs. The Branch President, Rev. James K. John, Vicar, Salem Mar Thoma Church, Elappara presided the meeting. Pastor S. David, IPA Church, Elappara was the Chief guest. Rev. A. T. John, Vicar, CSI St. Paul’s Church, Kozhikanam delivered Christmas message. Mr. John P. Kurien, Branch Secretary welcomed the gathering and Mr. Robin S. Branch Treasurer presented the vote of thanks. Church leaders and members from different Churches in and around Elappara participated in the Carol Night.
The BSI Valakom Branch (Kottarakara) organized Christmas Carols at St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church, Valakom on 17th December 2023. Rev. Georgie Varghese, the Vicar & Branch President presided the Musical Evening Program. H.G. Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos Metropolitan, Auxiliary President inaugurated the blessed event and delivered the Christmas message. The choir team from various Church denominations and Mary Jones Fellowship Choir, Valakom Branch rendered meaningful and melodious carols. Mr. K. G. Thomas, Branch Secretary, Mr. Joykutty A., Branch Treasurer, Juby Shaji, Convenor shared Christmas greetings.
The Christmas celebration of BSI Kottayam Branch was held on 18th December at Bible House, Kottayam. Rev. Joseph Johny, Vicar, Bethlehem Mar Thoma Church, Kollad & Finance Committee Member, Kerala Auxiliary presided the meeting. Very Rev. Fr. Dr. M. P. George Cor Episcopa, Director, SAMA, Kottayam inaugurated the Programme. Rev. John Mathai, Vicar, St. Peter’s Mar Thoma Church, Manganam delivered Christmas message. The Auxiliary Secretary shared Christmas greetings, updated about BSI ministry and the importance and relevance of the ecumenical ministry of the Bible Society in reaching the unreached with the living Word. The Women’s Fellowship Choir team of St. Peter’s Mar Thoma Church, Manganam rendered Christmas carols beautifully. Mr. George Mathew, Branch Secretary welcomed the gathering; Mr. E. J. George, Branch Treasurer expressed vote of thanks. The Branch members, a few Auxiliary Committee members & Staff participated in the Christmas Programme.
NORTH WEST INDIA AUXILIARY
“Scripture Engagement for Christian Widows and Suffering Women” 2023 Christmas season.
The BSI-NWIA conducted the “Scripture Engagement for Christian Widows and Suffering Women” at four different places in Ghaziabad, Meerut, Faridabad & Delhi. The programmes were truly a blessing for the BSI Staff and for those women who were not recognised in our society for many years. We are grateful to the BSI Central Office, Church, Public Relations and Resource Mobilization Department for recognising and honouring our mothers and sisters in its truest sense.
The first program was conducted at Dua ka Ghar Church in Meerut in Eastern Part of Uttar Pradesh where we were able to mobilise 40 women from various denominations and honoured them with Bibles and shawls. Mrs. A. Dean, BSI NWI Auxiliary Committee Member was our chief guest. Refreshment was served, provided by Mr. Anand Sahai one of the BSI, NWI Auxiliary Committee members. Pastor Finny Abraham was so kind to provide Church premises and all the logistic support. The second program was organised at Central Methodist Church Ghaziabad. Rev. Titoo Peter, Presbyter and BSI NWI Auxiliary Committee Member and Sister Aruna Jacob were the main dignitaries along with Pastor Jagdish Singh BSI, NWIA, Assistant Marketing. We were able to mobilise 55 special women from various denominations and honoured them with Bibles and shawls. Lunch was provided by the Ghaziabad Branch, BSI, NWIA. The third program was conducted at the City of Faridabad in Haryana by Mr. Sandeep Chauhan BSI, NWIA Marketing Assistant in co-ordination with Rev. George Masih, Presbyter of Methodist Church, Faridabad, Haryana. 28 Privileged women of Faridabad participated in the program. These women were honoured with Bibles and shawls. The last program was conducted in the City of Delhi at Hand of Jesus Yeshu Prarthana Bhawan Church, which gives importance to women in society and church. Pastor Ajeet was profoundly thankful to the Bible Society of India for organising such a program for the free distribution of Scriptures to widows and the suffering women in our society. Altogether 50 special women were given Bibles and shawls. Refreshments were served by the local Church.