*Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.- 1 Timothy 4:12*
I would like to start by extending a warm welcome to all visitors to this website of the youth league of our parish. This website will serve as the portal through which the world at large will come to know about the activities of our youth league. St. Thomas Orthodox Christian Youth Movement as our youth league is formally known is one of the many facets of our parish, which is one of the largest parishes in the Malankara Syrian orthodox sabha with over 5,000 families. The youth of our parish are the lifeblood of our parish and I would like to start by congratulating the team that worked painstakingly putting in a lot of effort and time to make this website what it is today. Submitting them to the hands of Almighty God, I pray that they will be blessed for their sincere efforts.
It is particularly apt that this website is being launched close to the feast of the Pentecost. From Ascension Day until Pentecost we are called to pray for the unity of Christians. This should be a sign of how seriously we take our vocation to be the Body of Christ in the world. In Christian life, the relationship between the members is considered to be just as important as our individual relationship with God. To take this concept further, I would like to explain two terms - the Body of Christ and the Koinonia experience.
The Body of Christ is an important term of Christian theology. The members of the church constitute the body of which Christ is the head. According to Orthodox thinking, the members of the church (ecclesia) as the Body of Christ are inextricably connected by the Holy Communion. St. Ignatius of Antioch says (ca.35-107) the unity of the Church is expressed in Eucharistic terms.
The early Christian community was proud of its Koinonia experience. * Koinonia* is the anglicisation of a Greek word (κοινωνία) that means communion by intimate participation. The first usage of Koinonia in the New Testament is found in Acts 2:42-47, where we read a striking description of the common life shared by the early Christian believers in Jerusalem,
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
The beauty of the early Christian life is very evident in the above reference. Teaching, communion, breaking of bread and prayer were considered as four pillars of the early Christian life. Koinonia refers to sharing and intimacy. Believers in Christ came together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia. This Koinonia develops with interaction and fellowship.
This very fellowship, a key aspect of Christian life is almost missing in today's Christian church. "Lack of time" is everyone's favourite excuse. Time required for spiritual development and growth through fellowship is often sacrificed at the altar of the pressures of modern life including long work hours and the stress of today's recessionary climate.
This is where developments in modern technology such as the internet can help members to communicate, interact and to know more about each other and about the youth league and our parish through websites such as this website. Let this website be the avenue of choice for the youth league of our parish to reach out to our larger community and for them to know more about us. Also, even in this fast routine life there are instances when we need a helping hand. This is where the job cell and our service initiatives such as labour camp visits and blood donation drives and "Edify Care" comes in.
I would also like to use this opportunity those of you who are eligible for membership but have not yet joined the youth league to become members and to contribute a little time and effort to the growth of the wonderful group we have here. Considering the size of our parish, they should definitely have more members. Many hands make light work and in the light of all they have achieved so far, they can definitely contribute more effectively to our parish and to our community if they have a greater number of active members Once again, I wish our youth league members and all the youth who visit this website a happy, fulfilled spiritual journey with a lot of likeminded companions.
In His Service
Fr. Shaji Mathew
Vicar & President