The immersion cohort fully participated in the morning’s chapel service on 21 January, sharing their words of gratitude and reflection with the faculty and students at Karnataka Theological College.
Here is a snip of the closing song from morning worship. This song was arranged by the Director of the KTC Program Centre, Rev. Dr. Hannibal Cabral.
A Reading from The Letter of Paul to the Colossians 1: 1-6:
I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am an apostle of Christ Jesus just as God planned. Our brother Timothy joins me in writing. We are sending this letter to you, our brothers and sisters in Colosse.
You belong to Christ. You are holy and faithful. May God our Father give you grace and peace. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.
We thank him because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus. We have also heard that you love all of God’s people. Your faith and love are based on the hope you have. What you hope for is stored up for you in heaven. You have already heard about it. You were told about it when the message of truth was given to you. I’m talking about the good news that has come to you.
All over the world the good news is bearing fruit and growing. It has been doing that among you since the day you heard it. That is when you understood God’s grace in all its truth. (Colossians 1:1-6 NIRV)
This is the Word of the Lord.
And, here are the words of the PSR participants…
Good morning! Namaste! The Lord be with you!I bring you greetings in faith from the community of faith at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, where — since 1866 — the Gospel has been preached and where students have been formed to spread the Good News — in its many forms and traditions — in California, throughout the United States, and, indeed around the world.
Last evening you welcomed us to your home here in Mangalore with the gift of your hospitality which included a beautiful red rose — one for each of us. We were so touched by that act of kindness and so deeply grateful for your welcome. We hope to learn from you and with you in the days to come.
The thirteen of us here with you this week are on a pilgrimage of faith. As with all pilgrims (whether Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or Jain), we have felt called to journey to this holy land of India because we know that — for many, many generations — this has been a land of seekers, prophets, pilgrims, gurus, and sages — women and men who have sought — and, indeed, still seek — to learn more about our shared human quest to understand the Divine in our lives. For us who are Christians, this quest involves following Jesus Christ in our lives and understanding how we might bring his Gospel message to all people.
We who have journeyed from California to Kolkata, to Mangalore, to the ashram of Father Bede Griffiths, and to Bangalore hope to learn how our sisters and brothers in faith live out their witness to Jesus of Nazareth.
And we seek to learn:
• from those who are Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Muslim;
• from those who practice the indigenous religions of their ancestors
• and from Christians in India who have crafted Indian theologies as they live in Christian community and preach the Gospel on this beautiful and complex subcontinent.
We seek to see the light of Christ, the love of God, the spark of the Divine in everyone we meet during this month of January.
And, so, we bring with us greetings in faith and thank you for being Christ here in south India.
Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you here at Karnataka Theological College: for your witness that there is the light of the Divine in all persons and that we are all called to make that light shine everywhere and always. Amen.
A few of our seminarians will now share with you some brief reflections on their own pilgrimages, thus far, in this holy land of India.
A piece of scripture Bernie just read was, “and truly comprehended the grace of God.” I am a second year Master’s of Divinity student at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA– a place where I was called to study because I felt the grace of God– saw the grace of God– I comprehended the grace of God– saw the gospel alive– breathing. Going to school– learning about God– God’s people– all the ways in which God can be experienced– I thought “YES! I am fully comprehending God!” I am learning different– being here– having been in Kolkata where I experienced God’s grace in new ways– Through car horns blazing, the sound of morning prayer at 5am, the orphans at Mother Teresa’s Orphanage, the ex-sex workers making bags and t-shirts at Freeset– a company that aims to give sex workers alternative ways of earning a living, I experienced God’s grace through Hindu wisdom, the smell of people doing their best to celebrate life– to live. Being in India this past week– I experienced God’s grace in ways that are so precious and profound– I’ve seen God in completely new ways. My view of God has expanded. My feeling about God’s grace? Is it really possible to comprehend God’s grace?
God’s grace is so much bigger than I can possibly imagine. It’s bigger than words– bigger than people– bigger than any action. The more I experience God’s grace– in new ways– in new places– through new experiences– the more I realize how incomprehensible God’s grace truly is. God’s grace is truly a miracle
Greetings. I came here to learn, and I am so grateful to be here – in India; at KTC. I had heard that people in India had tremendous heart. I have felt such welcome, hospitality and kindness since arriving, I believe this is so true.I had heard that India also wrestles with some serious social problems. And on the streets of Kolkata, I have seen many people in need of simple things like food and water.
I had heard of the great faith of Christians in India. And, again in Kolkata, I saw a place called Freeset created to give new opportunities to women caught in the sex trade. I saw Mother Teresa’s group, the Missionaries of Charity, and some of the work they do to bring hope to the very poor and to orphans. And I saw a hospice for people with HIV and AIDS, bringing humanity and kindness to people with this virus – who are sometimes pushed away out of fear.
Finally, I heard a sermon about social exclusion and how harmful it is – saying Christian life is all about finding those who are excluded by society and bringing them back into fellowship.
I have just arrived at KTC. But by your kindness and the light in your eyes, I know that each one of you – God willing – will also do great things.
It is such an honor to be here with you this morning. From our reading this morning, verse 6: This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. In my church in Alameda,California, every Sunday we begin worship by saying: “no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Our intention when we say that, our hope, is that people visiting with us for the first time will feel the wonderful welcome and love of God. When I first visited that church this saying made me feel like I had come home. I stayed, and became a member of that church. Now they are supporting me as I study to become a minister. It is a warm and welcoming church.
But since we have been here in India – Kolkata and now Mangalore – we are understanding God’s grace in a much deeper Spencer. We have been welcomed here – welcomed with open arms, good food, and friendship.
I see God’s grace in every smile here today. I see God in your eyes. And your welcome of us will bear fruit and grow. Because of you, because of the way you show us the grace of God, we will come to understand God’s love in a very personal way. We will carry your love with us back to our home churches.
Because of you, we have heard and truly understand God’s grace.
Thank you and may God bless you in your work.
My name is Sheila Thomas and I am a third year Masters of Divinity student at PSR graduating in May.I have wanted to visit India for a long time. In fact, I had considered coming several years ago with a friend and her mother who were traveling to Delhi. However, that trip did not work out.
My interest in coming to India was affirmed when I learned that two black ministers from the U.S. had visited here and had been transformed by their experiences. One, Howard Thurman, traveled here almost 80 years ago for four months from 1935 to 1936. The other, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday is being celebrated in the U.S. as I speak for his contributions to transforming the lives of not only Black Americans but all Americans, followed his mentor Howard Thurman to India thirty years later.
Both Thurman and King were followers of Jesus and Jesus’ life served as a model for their lives. While there were many aspects of Jesus’ life that spoke to each man, the one overriding theme was love and the importance of not only a personal love but also a transcendent love that overcomes barriers to each of us fully living our lives and sharing who we are with the world.
Now, I follow in the footsteps of these two great men on a pilgrimage of faith as Bernie suggested but also a pilgrimage of love. The generosity of spirit that you and our hosts in Kolkata have shown us helps me to understand more deeply why Thurman and King were transformed during these visits. Each experienced the love of God during their visits here. Their experiences and our experiences are examples of the unconditional love that Jesus insisted is the way we are to live our lives. So, I end by saying thank you for your generosity and loving kindness. Namaste.