As CSI’s commemoration of Reformation 500, and CSI 70, the Church of South India is organizing seven consultations on Rethinking Ecclesia under the theme “Being and becoming Christ communities – towards a borderless Church”. The theme will be discussed from a) Biblical perspective, b) Theological and Ethical perspective, c) Liturgical and Missiological perspective, d) Prophetic diaconal perspective, e) Empowerment and Educational perspective, f) Healing and Reconciliation perspective, g) Global Ecumenical perspective.
The third of the 7 Consultations was held on 22nd & 23rd february 2018 at CSI Centre, Chennai and exclusively looked into the theme "Rethinking Ecclesia: Being and Becoming Christ Communities towards a Borderless Church" from Missiological and Liturgical perspective. This consultation brought together 20 CSI missiologist and liturgists for a comprehensive reflection and discussion on sub-themes such as:
a) Liturgy: as defining borders Or a call to be a borderless mission
b) Liturgy and the Borderless Church
c) Christian Missions and the Borderless Church
d) Mission: creating/defining borders or proclaiming borderless, the reign of God?
During the Inaugural of this important consultation, The Moderator of the Church of South India, Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen graced the occasion and delivered the keynote address. He in his address said that Mission in its original form has no borders and always been receptive to the context. He affirmed that, Liturgy is a decorative declaration of faith which is life giving and affirming. Being a missionary himself, the Moderator, shared stories of his grassroot engagements with the people drawing inferences from the stories for understanding misson and the expression of liturgy in its own context. He also urged the participants to assess the needs of the church and engage in the faithful task of interpreting God and mission to liberate the weak and the oppressed. He also emphasised the fact that the Church and the theological arena needs to listen and dialogue with the context of the people to reduce the lacuna which exists due to various borders and barriers in the society
Rev. Dr. D. Rathnakara Sadananda, the General Secretary of CSI, presented a paper on “Liturgy and the Borderless church.” His paper expressed the newer dimensions of looking at liturgy. He opined that liturgy is the exegesis of the word and is very central to the church. He expressed that liturgy exists in various forms of expressions through the ministry of the Church and also it’s a transformative presence of the work. At times, liturgy also is the inner sense of ecclesia critiquing the whole ministry of the church. For him, liturgy is to listen to the voice of God and God’s people and an exercise to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. He explicated that Liturgy is borderless because of its fusion between time and space and said that its beauty lies in the fact that it connects the past present and the future giving an eschaton experience to the community through worship. He stated that liturgy begins when the benediction ends when people act out the liturgy through their witness in the world as they go into the world. He also said that liturgy is the fusion of the visible and the invisible where we experience the transcendent God through signs and symbols. He said that CSI liturgy which is so rich comprises of elements from different traditions making it a borderless exercise, which is inclusive, indigenous and transformative. Liturgy for him is also viewed as a protest against life negating realities around us. He said that liturgy has the power to imitate God, to explore, exegete, and affirm especially with the weak and the vulnerable. He concluded by saying that the education imparted through liturgy invites us to a borderless discipleship giving oneself the courage to stand up and console others and is the most powerful instrument of education given to the Church.
Missiological and liturgical practitioners and those involved in research presented their views on the various themes pertaining to the life and ministry of church engaging in a fruitful discussion. New ideas and possibilities were sought after only to make the theology of the Church more stronger and relevant from a borderless church perspective.
This exercise to contemplate, deliberate and contribute on Rethinking Ecclesia proved a fruitful time in creating a fellowship of CSI missiologists and liturgists in recommitting their call for the cause of the Church.