Saturday, February 14, 2009

Semi Annual Teachers' Meeting

We had a semi-annual teachers’ meeting today. It started around 2:30 PM EST.

Achen started the meeting stressing the importance of interpretation and appropriation.

Few key dates pertaining to our class, though:

Feb 22nd: Final Bala Balika Samajam for this year (to be held after General Body inside the sanctuary). I'll soon be calling you. BTW, today was valentine's day; hope you had a good one... also our deadline to sign up for BBS. Yeah, I've not forgotten it.

March 29th: Talent competition (time and location was not discussed). Sunil Joseph will be the coordinator this year.

May 10th: Final Exam

Symposium: Contact headmaster for further details if you are still interested. You may have a second chance.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Psalms used in Magic

Did you know that certain Psalms were used by Jewish Magicians known as Kabbalistic Magic?

They believe these psalms contain certain 'hidden words' within them and have magical powers. For your information, I'll share some of those Psalms used by Kabbalah, but will not get into the minute details as to how to read them out, or preparation required, as it's beyond the scope of our class/discussion.

Psalms 8: At the begining of a new venture

Psalms 20: For a successful venture such as business, exam, etc.

Psalms 62: For those seeking employment

Psalms 86: For those facing extreme difficulty in life

Psalms 104: For those who travel

Psalms 121: Travelling alone in the night (It says, recite this psalm 7 times and you'll be safe from all accidents and evil occurrences).

If you are still interested, click here to view a summary of all pslams. I've uploaded it to our class google groups.

Whey are we discussing this here?? Remember to ask me this question in class.

(The above material is just for your information, and I do not recommend you getting involved in Kabbalistic Magic.)

Image credits: Loyola school of Theology


Missing text books

I hear that some of you have misplaced your textbook :-(

During the beginning of our school year, I have handed out a text book to each one of you. When you complete this year, you are supposed to return the textbook back to me, so that the next year students can learn from it. Please understand that it’s with lot of hard work and effort that books are being made available to each student. It’s not as easy as driving up to Barnes and Noble/Borders or visiting amazon.com and picking up one. These books have to arrive from another continent and not all books are in print.

When the current school year started, we only had 8 textbooks. I took one for myself and there were a remainder of 7 books. That’s when Jeevan arrived, and we were short of one book at that time.

One of our Sunday school officers learned about this situation, and volunteered to photocopy the entire text book for the sake of our class. I instead requested an electronic copy – i.e., a scanned copy. This dedicated and hard working officer, scanned the entire textbook and made it available within the next day. I am pretty sure one entire day was spent towards this cause.

If you think your textbook is missing, kindly get in touch with the diocesan officer in charge of the text book and obtain a copy (I can get his phone number). We cannot afford to lose any books due to your negligence. You need to return your book in order to write your final exam! Meanwhile, I have posted the electronic copy of our textbook online at our class Google groups. Click on the link, and you can download the compressed file (zip file) and read it.

If you are satisfied with the online version, return the textbook and you're off the hook.

Kollam Bishop enters eternal rest

While we did BRS # 6 (due on Jan 11th), question # 7 was to name the Bishop of Kollam diocese. The answer was H.G. Mathews Mar Epiphanios.

Well, I am sorry to inform you, that H.G. Mathews Mar Epiphanios entered eternal rest (passed away) last monday. H.G was 81 years old. His Grace has been admitted at the hospital and was undergoing treatment. Funeral service was held at Kollam Aramana Chappel.
I learned about His Grace's death last monday, but was hoping and waiting that our church officers would sent out some sort of communication. Well, they did send out a similar one last time when H.G. Philipose Mar Eusebius Metropolitan of Thumbamon diocese passed away on Jan 22nd.

Friday the 13th

Today is 'Friday the 13th'. Does anybody know the significance of 'Friday the 13th'? I would like to hear your experience.

FYI - The next 'Friday the 13th' appears in March 2009.

Car break-ins on the rise

As the economy gets weaker, unemployment rate gets higher, more workers including police officers lose their jobs, and we see crime rate on the rise. We talked about this in our class briefly, while we had the gas crisis few months ago.

We have a similar situation in the metro Atlanta area. House and car break-ins are on the rise. The folks who do this are quite desperate and expect to get something out of the house/car. Most of them do not use any force to break-in; instead they get into unlocked houses/cars. They just turn the door knob or pull the car door handle.

In case of the car, owners need to be vigilant. Leave car doors locked at all times. Do not leave valuable items such as GPS, laptops, book bags, or even spare change, visible inside the car. Majority of our moms hide their handbag containing credit cards, cash, etc., under the car seat, thinking it’s not visible and walk freely towards the store/mall. Moms however make sure their car doors are locked. 95% of the burglars know about this ‘hiding place’ and could steal the handbag depending on the location and time. Guess what – burglars even know that our ‘Indian moms’ carry gold jewelry with them. I wish moms were carrying their handbag along with them when they went to a store. Most dads, on the other hand, are careless in locking the car doors (of course always there are exceptions).

Turn on your home security while you are inside. Always lock the front door. More than 90% of the time, house burglars come thru the front door that’s unlocked.

We do not want to be part of the statistics, due to oversight on our side. Therefore, be careful and safeguard our valuables. Here are news links about Gwinnett and Cherokee county car break-ins.

Soon we'll talk about the economy, what to do; and what not to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Synopsis: Chapter 18

Chapter 18
Wrestle Against Evil

Chapter summary: this chapter talks about some of the evil that prevails in the world. It tells us to fight evil with goodness. It also quotes some of the earlier Christians who had to fight against evil. Finally, the chapter motivates us to get ready for the fight against evil by being a servant of Christ.

Evil is all around us and we hear about it a lot. As Christians, our Lord expects us to fight against evil. We are also expected to stop fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This chapter examines couple of verses from the scripture. Romans 12:9 and Romans 12:2.

Hate that which is evil: As Christians, we should fight evil customs that we see within our society, just like how Jesus eradicated the merchants from the temple.

Overcome evil with good: Goodness is the only weapon a Christian has. A Christian does not resort to evil means. Be armed with spiritual weapons: the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, the girdle of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness.
There are several Christians who have put forth a formidable fight against evil in the society. Numerous Christians have criticized the king, the queen, the rich ones of Constantinople, about social injustice and inequality.

There is a demand for more servants for Christ, to fight for His cause. He calls all of us, and will guide us. We have to be courageous and respond to His call.

Synopsis: Chapter 17

Chapter 17
Live the Life of the Gospel

Chapter summary: This chapter speaks about some of qualities you should possess as Christians.

Narrate the story of 3 Monks.

Imitation of Christ: during baptism, we have responded to Christ’s call and surrendered ourselves to Christ.

Our conduct in daily life: Place Jesus before us at all times and in every work. At every step ask the Lord, “do you approve this or not?”

Our relation to the society: We should penetrate into the society and transform it. Let your light shine so well that they may see your good work and glorify your Lord.

Synopsis: Chapter 16

Chapter 16
Pray for All People
Chapter summary: In our liturgy, we are praying for the entire creation and the bread and wine represent the fruit of the world.

Man prays for the whole creation: man is the crown of God’s creation and therefore prays for the entire universe, by acting as a priest. Sample prayer offered in the book of Daniel.

Holy Eucharist is the offering for the whole world: during Holy Eucharist, we consecrate both bread and wine. Both these are the fruits of the world. The Holy Eucharist is man’s sacrifice for the whole creation.

Pray without interval: our prayers are for our fellow human beings, as well as our universe. Our Liturgy is arranged so that we pray for the universe, departed souls, the sick, the travelers, and all living conditions of life.

Synopsis: Chapter 15

Chapter 15
Guide –Post for the Lay Ministry

Chapter summary: this chapter discusses about being a good Christian leader. Four qualities required for a leader are mentioned herein.

  1. Godliness – A Christian leader should be holy and abstaining from all evil. Our motif in our social dealings should be to please our Lord.
  2. Sacrifice – the spirit of service always demands sacrifice. We learned the value of sacrifice when we discussed our chapter on ‘Love’.
  3. Humility – Considered as one of the most important quality of a true Christian leader. Not to bully over others, but to gain respect from others by humbling yourself.
  4. Hardworking – One who is conscious about his/her responsibility will work hard. Make proper use of time and work smartly; not for any reward or praise.

Synopsis: Chapter 14

Chapter 14

The Layman’s Mission

Chapter summary: this chapter discusses how the mission of Church is the mission of individuals as well.

Jesus to church: You are the light of the world….; you are the salt of the earth… Church = team of Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Laymen.

Our mission as individuals
- To grow in the Lord by drinking spiritual milk.

spiritual milk = word of God that we hear from the Bible and Liturgy.

Our goal for perfection = Life of Jesus Christ.

Narrate the story about St. Seraphim of Russia.

Our mission as a church
- Act as a priest to the whole universe.

Declare the wonderful deeds of Jesus.

Church should be a worshipping community – sing and praying for the entire world.

Be holy through spiritual life and obtain victory over corruption.

Love one another and proclaim the good news of Jesus. The early Christians had the credit where other religions would say, “look at these Christians, how they love each other.”

We Christians need to submit to the authorities without sacrificing our Christian faith and morals. Bible teaches us that we may sometimes have to suffer patiently and resist evil of the structures of the society as well as state. When you submit yourself and suffer patiently, you have God’s approval (1 Peter 2:21).

Chapter summary coming up

From now on, I'll share my notes on each chapter with you on this forum. Look out for the synopsis of each chapter which I am putting together, by picking the core idea from each lesson.

We'll discuss each chapter in further detail in our classroom setting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Staying connected with God

Being 'best of the best' in what you do, and becoming a world champion takes some serious effort. Last tuesday, I met Peter Nestler. Peter is a 7 time 'jump rope' world champion. It was quite fascinating to see a world champion perform tricks using jump rope. We gotta give him credit for being a world champion. During my conversation with him, one of my questions to him was "what does it take to be a world champion, and how do you stay there?" Peter smiled, and told me that by being connected to God, he receives the strength and guidance to be world-class. God provides him with the required strength when he needs it. Practice, practice, practice - that's what keeps him fine tuned. A mind to excel keeps him motivated to work hard.

I noticed that rare 'spark' and the 'twinkle in his eyes', when I finally shook hands. Translation: "Anything is possible if you have a strong will to succeed and God's blessings".

Sign up for BBS on Feb 22nd

Last Sunday Headmaster Shaju told me about the upcoming Bala Balika Samajam (BBS) on Feb 22nd. I want our class participating in this event. This is going to be our last BBS for this school year (hmmm.... we started using words such as 'last' and 'school year' which makes me think the year is almost over). The way it works is, this time around the BBS is for even numbered grades - PK & K, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12, and the president will be selected from an odd numbered class. We have events such as solo song, group song, bible verse, bible story and elocution. Few of you had already signed up for the last BBS - thank you. Some of you were busy with activities at that time, and told me you would sign up for this one - on Feb 22nd.

Due date for turning in your names is Saturday, Feb 14th - yeah, that's on Valentine's Day. So, it should be easy for you to remember the day. Those of you who have not participated this year, get ready for some activity. Others, you are more than welcome to participate again. If I do not hear from you by Saturday, then I'll start making phone calls.

With this new information on BBS date, we'll have to modify our class schedule once again. Let's learn some lessons next Sunday and push out our GD discussion to Feb 22nd (on the day of BBS).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dec 21, 2012

Earth in Ice Age (Image courtsey: How stuff works)
I had promised you an interesting topic to discuss about. It’s about 2012 and the predictions surrounding it. By far, this is the hottest topic after the Y2K scare (you guys missed it), which people all over the world are following.

As Christians, we read in the Bible that there is and end to this world, a judgment day, but nobody knows about the date and time. When someone talks to you about this topic, know some of the basic scientific facts so that you don't look puzzled. Here's a seemingly strong arguement: "If as Christians we can give credence to such seemingly ridiculous Bible stories as Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and the fact that Jesus lived, dies and will someday return, then why is it so hard for these same Christians to completely ignore the signs set forth in the Book of Revelations? How is it possible to have faith in “what was”, and totally discard “what will be”?" (The reference is regarding passages Revelation 16:8-9 & Revalation 12).

If you are starting to read this for the first time, here is a simple explanation: we believe when astronomy predicts a solar eclipse, lunar eclipse, and so on. The same astronomers along with NASA predicts massive changes to earth on Dec 21, 2012 including:
  • It’s the date of the winter solstice, which in the year 2012 occurs at 11:11 Universal Time (6:11 AM EST). On this rare day, the earth will be in the center of the milky way,

  • A very rare alignment between the earth, the sun and the entire galaxy takes place - this happens once in about 25,920 years,

  • The earth will wobble on its axis,

  • The magnetic poles of the earth will shift - this would put stress on the planet aggravating earthquakes and volcanoes, much intense than the tsunamis we’ve seen,

  • Solar activity will be at a maximum (if large planets Jupiter and Saturn are on the same side of sun then solar activity is less. On this day, Jupiter and Saturn are exactly opposite to each other). Intense solar activity can cripple satellites, electricity, and almost all electronic devices,

  • And few believing earth is ready to enter ice age again...

Interestingly, the Mayan calendar that started in 3113 BC ends on Dec 21, 2012 - the exact same date on which these astronomical events are supposed to take place. The Mayan calendar places huge importance on time, accuracy and Sun. Most of the Mayan literature, except four, were destroyed by Europeans due to their hatred towards sacrificing humans to Sun god. There’s a great uproar that the Mayans predicted the end of the world on Dec 21, 2012.

Towards the side of our class blog, I have placed few videos that are related to this topic – just for your information. Also, there are some available from History Channel. View them during your leisure time…. Don’t get too interested… it’s a black hole and you could get sucked right in…. there are stories about people who have quit their jobs and doing research on this topic to save mankind. There are talks that the government is not releasing many facts to the public. There is a movie '2012' that's about to be released soon.

Most likely, that day will pass on just like any regular day, with no major event happening at all. Many scholars see these theory as some trying to cash in on the fears of others. Well, 2012 is almost here and let’s discuss what happens….

(Disclaimer: I did not make up any of the above; but gathered it from various websites).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Condolence


Dear Mariya,

Today at church, we heard about the terrible loss to your family. You’ve lost a family member, who will always be with you in your thought and spirit. The incident leaves us so empty and wondering "why" the loss of a young person at this age of his life.

We hope and pray that you find strength in your beliefs, and know that your cousin will always be with you! Our heartfelt condolences, thoughts, prayers and love are with your family at this most difficult time.

10th Grade Class
Sunday, Feb 08, 2009

BRS # 8 - further reading

If anyone of you is interested in reading further about BRS # 8, follow the link below:

http://www.biblestudy.org/apostlepaul/timeline1.html

It has all the details that you may be looking for.

Comments on GD # 1

We had our first round of GD today. There were only 4 students in our class – Nimi, Maymol, Jake and Jiby. Mariya Tom is out of town this weekend; others had other important things to attend to.

We started out our GD slowly and I was an ‘invisible spectator'. Initially all participants felt they did not have much traction. Jake jumped in and led the initial discussions, Jiby followed the track, Maymol chimed in, and Nimi contributed few opinions. Jake was clearly steering discussions to a new frontier every time, and Jiby, Maymol and Nimi followed the earlier cycle. I observed this pattern during most of the GD. Even though we allocated only 15 minutes, it seemed like one hour. I'll let the participants speak out their opinions. Jake, Jiby, Maymol and Nimi, you could post comments to this post on what you need to say (I have removed the requirement where one needs to have a google account to post a comment - now anybody could post one).

The good part is that we actually started somewhere and learned that it’s not all that easy to talk about a subject without much preparation. It becomes easier if we have some ammunition to talk about. I would say you guys are fortunate to have such a forum to hold discussions. These are ‘real world’ scenarios. All of you Jake, Jiby, Maymol and Nimi participated in the GD; none of you guys were completely blank. It’s a good sign that you knew what and when to talk. There were no arguments, all of you were polite, and chose your words carefully.

On the ‘part to improve’, all of you have immense potential to get better and be great participants. All it takes is little bit of direction from my side, and a receptive mind from your side. In other words, you need to develop this skill and exercise it once in a while to keep it sharp. This is a good time to learn these things and I bet they will come handy down the road.

Our topic for next Sunday’s GD is ‘Youth and modern times’.

Stay tuned…

BRS # 8 (simplified)

Below is a simplified version of BRS # 8 that was emailed earlier. Try doing this one. If you are turning in hard copy, print the question and write answers at the bottom. After trying to do the BRS myself, I made some minor adjustments. Note that I broke out the original Qn 1 into two parts - Qn 1 and Qn 2.

Revised questions
  1. Where was Saul born, and what was his citizenship? Acts 21:39 & Acts 22:3
  2. What do you know about Saul’s education? (see second timeline in attachment 12- 15 AD)
  3. From the New Testament, write down two incidents where Pharisees are mentioned (Matthew 9:11, Luke 18:11)
  4. Who is the first Christian Martyr? (You should be able to find this answer all by yourself).
  5. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4, NIV). Who said, to whom? What is the importance of this incident? (Clue here)
  6. When were people first called Christians? (Clue here)
  7. How many times does the word ‘Christian’ occur in the New Testament? Check these biblical passages Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1Peter 4:16

I want you to know that Qn # 7 is flawed, and does not have a clear answer; since it depends on which Bible you are following. For example if a student follows King James Version, then his/her answer will be different from a student following New International Version. In the NIV, there are 2 additional locations: Colossians 3:18 & 1 Peter 4:12. In the New Living Translation, the word 'Christian' is mentioned in 38 places!!!

Good luck guys and gals. Turn in your answers once you are done.