THE EFFICACY OF TALES & TALK IN COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION

Within a span of 6 months, I had the chance to attend a wedding and a funeral in a rural setting. Two occasions that seem the opposite of one another helped me understand the nuances and importance of such events in the life of a community.

There were certain similarities and differences between the two. Both instances saw a gathering of people (family, friends and family of families the church etc), sharing of food and fellowship, exchange of gifts and presents, besides a time of worship and word.

What was different between both was that, one looked to be a joyous and positive event, while the other a sorrowful and piteous one. One saw an addition to the family, while the other saw the loss of a beloved one. One brought a fullness, expanding the family circle, while the other left a void, shrinking the family. One extended the boundaries and bonds of relationship, while the other narrowed down the reach and extent of influence.

What is astonishing was a factor common to both – the amount of gossip, criticism, bias, judgement and analysis that was generated and articulated in each. Almost everyone, one or another, pointed out what was lacking or amiss in each event and circumstance. Not many were to say what had been done right!

Such exercise is a special feature and unique culture that is part of the social fabric of India, evident more in villages than elsewhere. People in rural areas are given to free speech, often commenting on others affairs, with no qualms whatsoever about articulating their opinions. It is almost as if they have a birthright to do so, a special nature of a citizen of India, more so its womenfolk. This is both a bane and a boon, often to be endured or tolerated, sometimes enjoyed!

Such action is really not a negative indulgence, but an action born of a sense of responsibility towards one another in the community. It is an inborn quality and inherent trait woven into the very fabric of small communities where everyone knows everyone. It is unavoidable and not something one can get rid off from people who move closely with one another. In the city, we hardly care beyond our own and even that is sometimes lacking. So, what is truly a societal process appears to be unwarranted and unnecessary interference!

Small communities, that too rural ones, exist and survive through a pattern of relationships and associations. These are upheld by habits of interchange and primary of these is speech or conversation. Often held while working together in the fields or drawing water from the common source, such talk could border on gossip or tattle. To refrain from talking or discussing about others is a mark of disinterest and detachment, something that will actually exclude and isolate you from the community.

It is true that often such talk could border on jealousy or malice or bitterness etc, but most often it is the thread that binds folks together. It even serves as a sort or mode of entertainment and enlivening activity in areas where there is nothing to do beyond work and sleep!

It is moreover an important form of communication in such towns and villages where people don’t live in clustered and cloistered as in the city. News of good and bad travel fast, covering distances and bridging gaps, a necessity where social media as well as internet does not exist or is patchy. It is the equivalent of the thandora or drum beat or the old time proclamation that existed in ancient times as the method of passing messages to all in the countryside. Also, such bonding is a need in village life where mutual dependence is a given and a must.

In the city, where things can get done without a community process, we do tend to live such isolated and individual lives, because we feel we don’t need each other. Each of us is bent on our own progress, most often at the cost of another. Many do not have any qualms or even a conscience that they are swindling another, often considering it their right to live off another. We live in the city, close to one another in space, but far from each other in reality. Even an death or disease doesn’t move us to reach out to others, but causes us only to draw the walls around us tighter. That is indeed the characteristic of urban areas and sometimes it is rightly so, since often survival and growth depend on such quiet consolidation and separate lives.

Communities thrive and flourish through communication, different though they are in city and diverse in villages.

I believe that churches and leaders should consider and not reject this aspect, but realise its redemptive potential. We need to tap into this skill and transform it into gospel proclamation instead of decrying it.

That’s what Jesus did with the woman at the well at Samaria.

Let’s flow suit and impact communities using ways and means relevant to them, speaking their own language in their own dialect of community talk!

Let’s lead them to gossip about the gospel!

*Read my blog https://mullingspicewordpresscom.wordpress.com/2021/11/01/interactive-existence/ to continue on

*Pics courtesy Google pics

INTERACTIVE COEXISTENCE

Since 2016, I have been a regular blogger and have progressed to be a writer, something I dreamed of for years. Even during much of pandemic season, I was able to produce a steady stream of articles and projects, even though there were constraints on time. I need quietness and peacefulness to be able to think and articulate on paper or an app page. Though there was a crunch on this type of environment as the whole family was at home, I was still able to do meaningful work.

Of late I noticed that my writing has been tapering off and anyone going through my website would notice that I had posted only 3 articles in 4 months, with none in August, when my average was 1 per week. On the other hand, within the first week of November I have been able to pen and post 2 artefacts! The reason for this change was brought home to me through this Sunday’s sermon on being specially relevant, not just spiritually resurrected!

I generally watch the ebb and flow of life around me, saturate and soak myself in the various events I encounter, weigh the pros and cons of what I read or see and analyze and evaluate all of these inputs. My writing stems from this process of thinking through and drawing wisdom from everything, both positive and negative episodes.

I am a watcher of people, happenings, disturbances and a researcher of life as I experience it. Everything has become a learning process, the good, the bad and the ugly, helping me self-actualize. I receive and assimilate all as data inputs, which in turn become points and pointers for my writing, even the negatives that I meet.

I perceived that the reason my writing had tapered off and even died down for a month was because of a lack of interaction with the real world, being limited by covid to communing and communicating mostly through virtual media and medium. Social interaction had become a minimum, confined to calls (mobile, zoom or social websites), with very little in-person or face-to-face meetings. With no real input, my wellspring of writing had dried up and it was no surprise I had almost stopped writing. No real or factual inspiration!

All living beings have been created for interactive existence and thrive only with real time and space exchange. Nature is programmed to function in a give-and-take interplay regime, and would become atrophied or extinct without interactivity. Flora and fauna need daily, weekly, monthly, yearly as well as seasonal doses of sunlight, moonlight, rainfall, mist, heat and cold, as well as intermittent purges by fire or water to flourish. Pollination by insects and birds, grazing by herbivores, hunting by carnivores, trampling by omnivores, tidal cycles etc are necessary patterns of ecology and economy for the earth to thrive. Deny any of these and the earth would continue to spin on, albeit emptily, for such is the mutual complexity of lifestyle brought into play and upheld by the Creator!

Humans are no less an integral and important part of the life cycle on this earth, with added blessing of human relationships flavoring and enhancing human being. Without physical meeting together or talking face to face in person or community gatherings, the human race would become robotic and mechanical.

Nothing comforts a bereaved person better than a silent hug, for words do fail or become redundant at such times. No sick person ever lost the need for a loved one’s visit in lieu of some fruits or flowers. No celebration is complete without kith and kin as well as others being present. Physical presence and touch is of great important to all of life, not just children or pets.

The beauty of our world is this symbiotic dependence and corporeal exchange that stimulates and promotes growth as well as fruitfulness.

When pandemic began, we were hard put to stay indoors and be confined to the home.

When pandemic is fading away, we are facing a reluctance to step out to have society and social synergy.

We were made for company and companionship.

Nothing gladdens the heart or enlivens the scene than to see a group children shouting in gleeful play, or to hear the sounds of music and dance at a festival, or witness the chatter and catching up in a marriage, or watch a group of friends slap each other’s back with joyful camaraderie or egg on a group of athletes or a team of players.

Nothing stirs up faith as corporate worship and consentient prayer.

This world was made for community and combined influence.

Interaction soothes and smoothens our existence and our life.

Don’t isolate yourself and die for lack of connect.

Don’t opt for just connectivity and lose out on communion.

Want to know the impact of interaction on me? Two articles in a day!

So, resist the urge for seclusion and come out into the light to thrive. You will be blessed!

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Songs 2:11‭-‬13, The Bible)

*Read my blog on http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/10/03/statelessness-in-the-church/ to know more

*Pic courtesy: https://unsplash.com/photos/cD1ROcn6OP8?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

STATELESSNESS, THE DEFAULT STATE & STATUS OF CHRISTIANS?

A couple of days ago my daughter, who is a professor of law, had shared with us her recent lecture topic: Reduction of Statelessness in South Asia. It set me thinking about the issue of statelessness and its implications.

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country.

A stateless person is someone who, under national laws, does not enjoy citizenship – the legal bond between a government and an individual – in any country. In simple terms, a stateless person doesn’t have a belonginess or a sense of being part of a people. They do not belong anywhere and nobody has a care over or for them, by legal right or otherwise.

Being part of a community bestows identity as well as a sense of well-being because of the awareness of being part of a bigger whole. When some event happens, let’s say a disaster, then there is solace in knowing that we are not alone. There is comfort in knowing that we are all sailing in the same boat and others are working to help us.

This is why refugees so desperately seek to have citizenship status, so that they can become part and parcel of a country. They look for the care and concern that comes from being part of a nation. They seek the covering that comes from being part of a people. They yearn for the fellowship and friendship that comes from belonging to a community. They want a life that is solid and established instead of living on the margin of it.

Citizenship confers identity and recognition as people who have rights and legal standing. They are no longer nameless or lumped together as refugees, but exist in a sovereign state where they can carve out a life for themselves. Citizenship gives them security and settlement so that they are no longer aliens or wanderers.

In the Bible, Israel was birthed as a nation when they were delivered from bondage out of Eygpt and received God’s laws at Sinai. They became an acknowledged and accepted sovereign state only when they settled down and were established in a land. They were constituted as a nation and acquired an identity as a people only when they were rooted in a place and belonged to it.

Ancient India was made up of a number of disjointed states and kingdoms, becoming a united nation only after independence. A common flag, a code of conduct and a declaration provided statehood. Being a nation or state brings unity and imparts a sense of belonging and identity as a community.

Being part of a community and to savor the privileges of belonging is an essential need of the human psyche. Human beings need companionship, to belong and be together with others. One of the tenets and traits of the postmodern era is the need to be part of a group. That’s why, more than ever before, people are willing to adopt all sorts of behaviour or habits just to be ‘part of the crowd.’

In Eph 2:19-20 we read that: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In I Cor we read that we have all been baptized to become one body, one people and one community.

The scriptures is clear that all who believe and call on the name of Jesus have been amalgamated into one new humanity, beyond the trappings and confining of caste, creed, color etc. As believers, we have an identity as the people of God living on this earth as the representatives and witnesses of heaven, bonding to live life together as His family and His household. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened so as to grasp the riches of His glorious inheritance in His people.

However, many who are born again and baptized in Christ live as aliens, full of an orphan spirit. They move around without no sense of identity since they lack community comprehension. They have no consciousness of the fellowship that comes with being a disciple of Christ. They wander around as refugees, feeling alienated and left out in this world.

The reason for this is two-fold: Either they are ignorant of the fact because they have not been taught of what they inherited in Christ; or they have rejected the fellowship of the saints since it involves responsibility and accountability . The former can be realigned and restored by proper teaching, but the latter are to be pitied since they have no understanding of the riches that identification with a community of faith brings.

Every one who is born of God must live as the beloved Sons and Daughters of the Most High. They need to have an understanding of the family they are part of and the entitlement that comes with bearing His Name.

Unfortunately, many are yet to grasp that they are citizens of the Kingdom of God, the apple of His eye and the people of His love. They are yet to recognise and realize their rights in Christ, the freedom that is their birthright and the authority that is theirs in Christ. They live as orphans, outcasts and ostracized, not as those who are the hope of the whole world.

Statelessness is real in His Church and among His people. Many a person in His Body walks around with the wounds of being aliens and castaways. Being aware of the need for a community of faith is core to living a purposeful life on earth. Being identified with a local family of God will purge the sense of lostness and abandonment in these times. Being committed and dedicated to the Body of Christ, the church of the Living God is of utmost importance in all seasons and turns of life.

Many people of God die, as Sir Walter Scott says (in his poem Breathes there a Man with soul so dead), Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung, because they are stateless ie, not part of a local community of faith or the church of the Lord, sometimes by ignorance but often by choice!

*Read my piece on http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/07/30/promoting-symbiosis-during-covid/

*Pics courtesy google images

SYMBIOSIS AND COVID

Symbiosis involves interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. It denotes a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups or species.

Symbiotic relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together. There are three basic types of symbiosis: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit. Bees and flowers have a mutualistic relationship as well. Bees get the nectar they need to make honey by traveling between flowers. The bee brings pollen from one plant to another, resulting in pollination.

Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits while the other species is not affected. One species typically uses the other for a purpose other than food. Tree frogs using plants for protection, golden jackals, once they have been expelled from a pack, trailing a tiger to feed on the remains of its kills, goby fish living on other sea animals, changing color to blend in with the host, thus gaining protection from predators, are all examples of commensalism

Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species (the parasite) benefits while the other species (the host) is harmed. There are many types of parasitic fungi that will attack various plants, fruits, vegetables, and even animals.

In the Bible, we see precedents for all these three types of symbiotic relationships existing, especially in the church.

In Acts 4:32 we witness mutualism when we read that All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Israel was instructed by the laws of God to care for the widow and the orphan, the poor and the needy as well as for the foreigner and alien who.lived among them. The Church also lived by this principle, a clear demonstration of commensalism.

Apostles Paul, Peter and Jude warn of parasitical people in the church who are blots and blemishes in their feasts, people who use and misuse the goodness of others in the Body of Christ for their own needs. In the Old Testament too, God warns the shepherds through the prophet Ezekiel for not searching for His flock but caring for themselves rather than for His flock and living off the flock (Eze 34).

I believe the best illustration of symbiosis occurs in II Cor 8 & 9 when the Apostle Paul commends the Macedonian churches for their generosity towards other churches in need and recommends that the Corinthian/Achaian churches follow suit. He points out the cycle of mutual benefit that results from such caring and sharing when he writes This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(II Cor 9:12‭-‬15).

In these days of Covid, churches can follow this principle and demonstrate community concern and consciousness to a watching world through the acts of positive symbiosis. Not just commensalism symbolized in caring for those adversely affected, but also in partnerships of beneficial mutualism.

An example of such a relationship would be for larger churches with extensive technological resources to help the smaller ones, who lack such amenities, use their facilities to record and propagate their online services. The prayers of the latter will surely bless the efforts of the former and God’s love will be exhibited in a very practical way in a greedy and selfish society, making hearts sensitive to receive the gospel!

Churches do reach out to those in the community being hurt by the pandemic, such as migrant workers or those who have lost their income. However, church communities haven’t yet begun helping one another enough to warrant a community impact that will open doors and hearts for the gospel. Unless a community cooperation and coexistence is perceived, people around will never understand Christ’s love for the lost.

A city church adopting a struggling village church, serving it in times of need will go a long way in showing solidarity between members of the same family of God to those around. Just as the conduct of individuals and families is to adorn the gospel, the attitude and deportment of churches towards their needy brother/sister churches would provide context for the content of the gospel.

Not just churches, but Christian businesses and businessmen/women can also adopt and emulate the Biblical model of mutuality or commensality. This is not the time to behave like vultures to swallow up others because of the opportunity for acquisition, but rather exhibit charity in every way.

God’s way is for the mountain to be used to fill the valley so that a highway be made for all. He had this in mind when He told His people to care for the poor: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deut 15:10‭-‬11

Symbiotic relationships are showcased in nature to clue in us to God’s plan for mankind, as individuals and communities.

Let’s not be cunning as jackals or ravenous as wolves, but pure as doves and innocent as lambs, especially in this pandemic crisis!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images

EVERY TIME AT THIS TIME

Every time I happen to meet the sanitary worker responsible for clearing our trash, I stop to smile and thank her. 

Every time I watch the news or posts on medical and healthcare personnel, I appreciate them with a like or comment or a share!

Every time we purchase essential groceries, vegetables, meat and medicines, I thank God for businesses serving the community!

Every time I see the police maintain law and order, doing everything they can, even scaring the populace into quarantine, I bless their sacrifice to ensure our safety

The real super heroes of our times, I salute you!

*Friday Fictioneers is talented group of enthusiasts penning down a story, a poem, a prose, etc., expressing their heart about a photo prompt © C. E. Ayr

COMMUNION COMMUNICATION

We gather together at His table,
As often as we can or are able.
On the first and the fifteenth,
Once or twice every month!

We gather together as a community,
To commemorate Him as one family,
We partake in a simple communion,
To celebrate Him in a holy union!

We gather together to REMEMBER,
His death and His resurrection,
That made us each a member,
Of His Body by His wonderful affection!

We gather together to solemnly REPENT,
Of evil ways and wrong intent,
We constantly need to reorient,
To Him one hundred percent!

We gather together to RECOMMIT,
Our lives in humble surrender,
To live according to His holy writ,
And to honor His saving splendor!

We gather together to RECONCILE,
With one another and not be juvenile,
We need to just forgive one another,
For we belong to the same Father!

We gather together to RENEW,
Our covenant with Him anew,
He will give us a needed breakthrough,
When we always keep this in view!

We gather together once again,
Around His table time and again,
He will REFRESH us with His gentle rain,
Until He comes to rule and reign!

(Inspired to write this as Ps Ben⁩ read I Cor 11 & prayed for communion in 4th service of NLAG Church, Chennai, S.India!)

SABINA TAGORE IMMANUEL
©NLAG, Chennai, S.India

WEARY WARRIOR, GO THE DISTANCE

Are you a soldier weary of the battle,
Holding the ground you already won?
Clothed in your armor, you stand so tall,
Yet you’re drooping ‘cos you’re tired of it all!

Who will help me, you cry within your heart,
What can I do, you question within your loft!
Fear not, good warrior, help is at hand,
God has placed resources close by your stand!

Look first to Him Who called you to go,
He’s promised to be there in all that you do!
His eyes are open, His ears do hear,
He doesn’t abandon you whenever you tear!

His grace is sufficient for the task that He gave,
His strength is made perfect when yours doth fail!
The clarity of His mission will lighten your way,
The focus of His purpose will enliven your sway!

Don’t give up yet, tho’ night seems long and drawn,
Just persevere and hold on until the day doth dawn!
Time is but short and the stakes are but high!
Its but a momentary dull and the end is but nigh!

Reach out for help from those who are with you,
Stretch out to succour those who surround you!
Seek not to walk alone for you have a community,
God’s always meant for you to be part of His family!

Stand strong soldier, let your heart be true,
Don’t let the world tease you into its lure!
His yoke is easy and His burden is light,
Stand firm soldier, your reward is in sight!

Sabina Tagore Immanuel
*Poetic form of Sunday Sermon by Ps Suman Jonathan (@SumanJonathan)
© NLAG CHURCH, LITTLE MT, CHENNAI, INDIA
*Pic courtesy https://i1.wp.com/www.kimrjackson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/battle.jpg?resize=495%2C540&ssl=1