Reflections...

Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  

The First Fruits offered to God

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 25th November 2007 by Ms. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-9.


Introduction

Today is the ‘Thanksgiving Service”. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. It is a day to give thanks to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest and blessings in every aspect.

The origin of Thanksgiving in both countries is very much related to their national history of their ancestors going to the ‘new land’ of the North America and settled there after much hardship and difficulties. They give thanks to God for the blessings that fall upon them in the land.

Thanksgiving is significant for Jews and Christians to give thanks to God who provides daily needs to enrich lives. Lord God is redeemer who saves her people from the dark and leads them to light.

Coincidently, today is the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the United Nation’s report “In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women 2006”, at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In view of women’s suffering from violence and violation of their basic human rights and dignity, what does ‘thanksgiving’ mean to them and us?

Let me start with my experience
Ten years ago, three friends and I, altogether 4 people all came from social work background formed a new women organization concerning sexual violence against women. We saw the plights of women who are sexually harassed but suffer silently because of the neglect of society and the discrimination against them. Each of us contributed HK$1,000 to start off this organization and the hotline service. The service was initially run by volunteers. You know where was our base at that time? As we were nobody and had no money then, we could not effort to rent any place. With grace, we were allowed to use the office of the Hong Kong Women Christian Council in the evening after their office hours.

After a year of operation, the women organization began to get her first donation of HK$200,000 from the Oxfam. After three years of hard work in delivering direct services to victims and advocacy in community, the organization successfully applied for fund of 6 million dollars from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charity Fund, to start the first rape crisis centre in Hong Kong, namely Rain Lily (風雨蘭). You may have seen the promotion posters in MTR stations before.

There is a Chinese idiom “Everything starts with difficulty” (萬事起頭難). It is always difficult to start from nothing right at the beginning. It is no exception with the women organization I worked with as a volunteer. What made this organization a success in terms of pursuing the rights of women and serving the victims of sexual violence by eventually establishing the 24-hours Rain Lily Rape Crisis Centre? The key was the commitment and persistence. The other thing was the founders concentrated on what they had and offered them with delight. They were very much concerned with the victims of sexual violence and had a strong conviction for the service provided to this group of women.

The women founders were not rich in money terms, but they had rich experiences in social services and community work. Most important of all, they were willing to give with great commitment. I remembered during the course of advocating the setting up the Crisis Centre for the sexual violence victims, many people including the related government officers put us off by saying the problem of sexual violence was not serious as there were only around 100 rape cases and 1000 sexual harassment cases a year. We however insisted our course of work. To us, one woman suffering from this kind of violence is already too much. It is not a matter of figure, but a matter of human dignity and concern for human suffering.

The women had offered their strength during the course of actions to serve. They concentrated on what they had and not what they were lacking. Let me stop this story here for now, I’ll come back to it later.

Essence of offering---to commit and to give the best with gratitude
Offering of the first fruits ---‘bikurium’ is the Jewish tradition that required under the Jewish law of Mishnah. This is an important practice following God’s commandment to the Israelites that the first born of man and beast belong to God. (Exodus 13: 1) Bikurium teaches us to devote our strongest and freshest resources to God, to those people and to those values that we most cherish. The essence of offering is not to quantify what we have, but to give our best to God out of different kind of limitations.

The ‘first fruits’ offering reminds us that what we are and what we have are from God. We are nothing and nobody if God does not give the gifts to us with her love and grace in the first place. It is thus not only a free will for everyone of us to offer gratitude to God, but also our obligation to offer ourselves with humility and gratitude.

Essence of offering---God remembers the afflicted and the oppressed
The text of Deut 26:1-11 reflects a setting of the Temple Era, every farmer was commanded to bring to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem the first fruits which ripened in his orchard. During the course of expressing gratitude, those who offer would recite a passage to thank God for the Land and its bountiful harvest, and the fruit were given to the priests. The offering of the fruits of the soil is linked to an event in salvation history, the entry of the Promised Land.

The reciting of the salvation history during the offering of first fruits every time is a very significant ritual to remind the people once again Lord is God of deliverance. He is always with the suffered and oppressed. God is a living God. He plays an active role in human history. He will never forsake those who are afflicted and persecuted. God will be with them and save them from oppression. This is a great promise of hope.

From the concern and commitment of the women social workers in the women organization I mentioned at the beginning, I can see how God remembers the women who suffered from sexual violence. God does not abandon the women but it is through these four women founders and some other committed volunteers, God’s love, comforts and hope fell upon the victims.

The recitation of the Israelites’ deliverance in God’s mighty power and grace reminds us also how important it is for people who are brought out of bondage and have been experiencing the liberation of God to remember the grace and abundant blessing of God, and to give thanks to God with humble gratitude. Moreover, thanksgiving grounded in the liberation history reminds us to remember those who are suffering from affliction, toil and oppression in our immediate neighborhood and around the world. In this thanksgiving season, Christians as individual and faithful community has to respond to God’s call to concern and serve the people in need with concrete action.

Essence of offering--- Sharing with the aliens
Thanksgiving Day is a communal celebration marked as a sense of gratitude people feel for all the good things in life. This is done by offering prayers, gifting your near and dear ones. In the States, families try as much as they can to reunion and celebrate together for this event.

In the Jewish tradition of thanksgiving, the commandment of God demands her people to celebrate the blessings with family and beyond by including the aliens/foreigners living with us. In Deut 26: 11 from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), it said “then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and your house.” (In the New Jerusalem Bible, the term foreigner is used) Who are the aliens/foreigners living around us in our society today? I have thought of those migrant workers coming from the Philippines, Indonesia and Nepal etc, as well the asylum seekers and refugees. Any other alien people can you think of at this moment of time? Let’s regard them as part of our family and our community, share with them our bounty gifts given by graceful God.

The essence of thanksgiving is to share with those ‘have not’. The ‘have-not’ people are not necessarily those lacking of material living, they can be the people who suffer from isolation, exclusion, exploitation and marginalization due to differences in race, gender, age, sexual and political orientations, and occupation etc. Recently I read a newsletter of a local organization namely Zi Teng. The aim of this organization is to raise concern on human rights violation and exploitation of sex workers in Hong Kong and China. Due to strong moral judgment and social discrimination against these women working in this sex industry, the police can easily abused their power to take advantage by demanding free sex with the sex workers in the disguise of carrying duties. The police are further accused of manipulating the laws to charge the sex workers. The marginalized and disadvantaged people in society are worthy of our attention and support.

When we share our gifts to Lord, we are asked to offer in the presence of God. (Deut 26:4-5) ‘In the presence of God we offer’ demonstrates a significant meaning of what we do and give is sharing of what God has given to us. We are only agents of God to share with the needy. In the presence of God, all human beings are equal. Therefore those who give are not superior to the receiving end. Giving and serving is a form of sharing, sharing of God’s love and grace. We are no different in terms of the intrinsic values and human dignity from the marginalized and disadvantaged people in the presence of God as we are all God’s holy creatures. It is very much likely that it is only circumstances that make us different in experiences and social positions.

Conclusion
From the Jewish commandment of offering the first fruit to God- bikurim, there are three essences in thanksgiving that I would like to conclude here.

The first essence of thanksgiving is to offer our best gifts with gratitude and rejoice. What we have and what we are, are all from God. The second essence is remembering. To remember our Lord is a liberating God for the oppressed and afflicted. We are God’s people to live with her commandment of love and justice. The third essence of thankgiving is sharing, to share with the have-not in a humble and holy manner.

With the good work done by various local women groups and international organizations such as the Unifem, a United Nation’s body committed to eliminate violence against women, to promote gender equality and women rights tell clearly that God does hear the cry of the women suffering from different forms of violence. Our Lord God does not turn a blind eye and deaf ear to those who are afflicted, oppressed and marginalized.

Thanksgiving involves more than just words -- it requires a commitment; the gratitude must express itself in deeds. Bikurim implies that our thankfulness to God cannot remain in the realm of emotions, thoughts, or even speech, but must also move us to action with passion and compassion.

Now let me return to my story about the women organization concerning violence against women. The women organization could successfully start off its service because it received other people and organizations’ contributions. The Women Christian Council was willing to share its space with us. But did you know that in fact, it was the Kowloon Union Church who gave permission to the Women Christian Council to locate their office in the building right next to this sanctuary in the first place! You can see how the good deeds from different organizations contribute to serve the people in need at the end. In our case, a simple act of generosity for KUC to rent the building to the Women Christian Council had helped to facilitate the establishment of the first rape crisis centre in Hong Kong!

Very often, the results of what we have done and offered may not be seen immediately and obviously. Don’t be frustrated and give up, we have to maintain our will and work towards what is right. As apostle Paul encourages us today through the words of God in the 2 Corinthians 9: 9, “he scatters abroad, he gives to the poor, his righteousness endure forever.” The fundamental character of God is righteousness. God will fulfill his will to do justice and have mercy for those who suffer. God will use different ways to enrich us with every grace so that we have enough for every conceivable need. Our Lord God will provide the necessary resources for her people doing all kinds of good work for others. Our role as giver and attitude in offering are to make up our mind to give with a willing and cheerful heart. (2 Cor 9:7-8)

# posted by Heddy Ha : Tuesday, November 27, 2007

 

Christianity and Human Rights

This sermon was preached at Kowloon Union Church by James D. Seymour on Sunday, November 18, 2007. The readings heard were from, Isaiah 9:6-7, 10:1-2, I Corinthians 13:8-13, and Ephesians 6:12-15.


As you know, fifty-eight years ago, the United Nations adopted an instrument entitled the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose thirty articles set forth standards for humanity in the areas of civil liberties, and economic, social and cultural rights. Although it is not a religious statement, a religious person will inevitably interpret human rights in the light of his or her religion. What I ask of you today is to explore with me the relationship between the human rights about which the Declaration speaks, and our faith.

No claim can be made that the Declaration is a purely Christian document. It was, after all, the product of people of many faiths. One of the authors, 張彭春 P. C. Chang, was a Confucianist. Confucianism, of course, carries a mixed message regarding the nature of human beings, depending on which interpreter you read. Mencius 孟子argued that people are born good, but over time tend to be corrupted by their cultural environment (人本善 習相遠 ). This implies, to me at least, that the people can be trusted, so they should given lots of rights. The corrosive influence of their cultural environment is to be guarded against, not by repressing the people, but by improving the cultural environment. This is a somewhat different approach from, say, what we heard in the service in September, from the book of Romans, about how “to be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace” (Romans 8:6). But I wonder if these two philosophies are really all that different. It seems to me that both approaches end up in somewhat the same place; whatever our predispositions at birth, we are now free to be, and do, good--or not. Part of “doing good” is upholding human rights, both in the sense of ourselves not being in any way responsible for violating the human rights of others, and not being passive in the face of any human rights violations of which we are aware.

Still, Christianity, too, sometimes seems to send mixed message on the subject of human rights. There are Biblical passages which call for the subordination of women (Ephesians 5:21), indicate opposition to homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22), oppose the lending of money for interest (Luke 6:34, Romans 13:8) and even seem to condone slavery. But we take all these, which anyway were not concerns of Jesus, as statements of what was socially acceptable in the first millennium before Christ, but not as values divinely mandated for us to hold today.

What then, is the Bible’s positive message on human rights.

Let’s begin with the Old Testament. Earlier in the service you heard a reading from the book of Isaiah (10:1-3), condemning unjust laws and the deprivation of the rights of the poor. And I would also call our attention to Hebrews: Where it is deemed praiseworthy to stand up for those who have been “publicly exposed to insult and persecution,” and to sympathize with those in prison (Hebrews 10: 32-34).

As for the Ten Commandments in Exodus, at first glance these thou-shalt-nots do not seem anything like a list of rights, but merely a list of wrongs. But if you think about it, many of them can be “translated” into positive, rights affirming principles. “Thou shall not kill” means that everyone has a right to life. “Thou shall not steal” is an affirmation of property rights. “Thou shall not give false testimony against thy neighbor” means that everyone has a right not to be defamed. And so on. Thus stated, the Ten Commandments almost come across as precursors of modern human rights.

But our faith is based mainly the New Testament, and the teachings of Christ, sometimes as interpreted by his disciples. Thus, Paul said: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; … The whole law is summed up in a single commandment: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ … The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25).

That list of Paul’s is rather long. What social values, in our faith, are central? Well, as you heard in the reading from Corinthians, Jesus himself had his own short list: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and ….” Now, the next word, in the translation we use, is “Love.” But in the old King James version (1611) the word that appeared was “charity.” That’s because the Latin word was caritas. This is the same concept about which you will shortly be singing: “Ubi caritas et amor…deus ibi est.” (Where there is charity and love, God is there.) Actually, in ancient times caritas covered both love and charity. At some point, the two concepts drifted apart a bit, but we do well to remember that originally it was all the one unified concept. It is not sufficient just to love, we must also do right by people. When we hear the verse “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love,” we must understand that love includes charity.

The minimum requirement of such love, is to behave peacefully toward other humans. Peace, of course, represents the common aspiration of decent people everywhere. In 1984 the United Nations, in adopting the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace, made peace a human right. This declaration “solemnly” proclaimed “that the peoples of our planet have a sacred right to peace.” But peace has a special place in our faith, because it was so important to Jesus. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” But ours is not to be a passive role. We are urged to make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called the children of God.” So important a position does peace hold in our faith, that the one time when we actively and individually participate in this service is when we stand, and exchange the peace with our neighbors.

But how often self-styled Christians have missed the point on his. Recall the Crusades of a thousand years ago. Think of all the religious wars fought in pre-modern Europe, settled finally not be any commitment to social tolerance, but by establishing the nation-state system; people on my side of the new international border will have one faith; people on the other can go to hell. And think of the American government’s decision to invade Iraq, driven in no small measure by people of the fundamentalist so-called Christian persuasion.

Our faith also charges with sticking our necks out to improve the society in which we live. In English, we don’t just call our faith Christianity; that word covers many other religions. We are Protestant—an adjective derived from the word protest. That is a notion that got somewhat lost as the religion entered China, where the name is “Christian” 基督教, a term that does not include Catholicism. One can understand why the term “Protestant” was not translated as 抗議教, they would have been run out of the country. Still, in translating “Protestant” as基督教, something important got lost. Some people use the term 基督新教 to distinguish Protestantism from other versions of Christianity, but I’m not enthusiastic about this term either. It’s the other versions of Christianity, with their emphasis on hierarchy and their only guarded embrace of human rights, that sprang up were anew after Christ’s time. Ours lessons are taken from His original teachings, and the example he set.

Jesus’s life was a life of protest. But for 15 centuries the idea of protest was on Christianity’s back burner. Then came a monk named Martin Luther, who in 1517 at the German city of Wittenberg wrote his “95 Theses,” and, according to tradition, nailed them on the front door of the castle church. Protesting was back on the front burner.

Suddenly people remembered the passage from Isaiah that was read earlier (Isaiah 9:6-7, and 10:1-3) about unjust laws, and the message that you heard from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians about the importance of struggle against bad rulers, and evil in general (Ephesians 6:10-20). Even (or perhaps especially) the priesthood became something of a target. (Given the choice of respecting a priest, or a more socially aware but otherwise lesser figure from a marginal ethnic minority, Jesus had unhesitatingly chosen the Good Samaritan.) Also recalled was the story in Luke about how Jesus dealt with the problem of how one should conduct oneself when in a place where people don’t see the issues of good and evil the way we do. Jesus is quoted as saying that the thing to do was make one’s position clear. “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.” Protesting is not just a right, for Protestants it is an obligation.

So, with all due respect to other faiths, we believe we’ve gotten it right. We find Protestantism to be in complete harmony with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which speaks of “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Our rights must be exercised “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

So to summarize all of this: Our Christian faith informs our understanding of human rights, and our concern for human rights rededicates us and gives focus to our Christian faith.

Let us pray. Lord, we thank you for this wonderful church. For the lovely old building, to be sure, but even more for the fellowship and communion that we enjoy here. Empower us, so that, through our diversity and yet unity of purpose, we may serve you, by setting an example for society at large. Give us the wisdom to infuse the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the teachings of Jesus Christ. May we, through this union of faith and principles, advance the human condition. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, November 18, 2007

 

Celebrating Holy Communion

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 4th November 2007 by Rev. Kwok Nai Wang. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 65:17-25 and John 6:1-14.


To-day is Holy Communion Sunday. Our Church celebrates Holy Communion every first Sunday of the month and on the two most important Christian festivals: Christmas and Easter.

The celebration of the Holy Communion is the most weighty and solemn act of all Christian churches. The bread and the wine (or grape juice) represent the body and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ who sacrificed his own life for all humanity. These are the visible signs pointing to the Saving Grace of our Lord. This Grace is never cheap. The incarnate God: God became flesh through Jesus Christ died on the cross for us so that we can live a more meaningful and wholesome life.

In a way, this precious Grace is free. But Christians must come to receive it reverently. Free Churches do not have the act of confession in their public worship. But invariably they would include the confessing of their sins before they partake the Holy Communion. This is their way to express their utter seriousness in celebrating “the Lord’s Supper”.

What’s so holy about the Holy Communion? Holy means different or special. It is different or special because it is extra-ordinary. God became a human being. He suffered and died for us so that we may understand the ultimate reality of life.

“Communion” literally means “sharing”. God shares his love to us unconditionally. This is what Jesus said, “No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

Sharing is the most important activity in this world. Life is only possible if and only if people have the volition to share.

October 17 was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. We remember a tenth of the world’s population do not have enough food to sustain their bodies; have no clean water or a safe shelter. Their children are under-nourished. They receive no school education. Many died a violent or premature death. The fundamental problem is that the rich nations do not want to share their wealth with the underdeveloped countries. Hundreds and thousands die of AIDS or HIV related diseases because the big drug manufacturers want to maintain their high profit margins. We can go on and on in listing tragic human stories resulting from people not wanting to share.

On Sunday, October 14, a woman who had a history of mental illness tied her 12-year daughter and 9-year old boy and pushed them from the window of their home on the 24th floor of a public housing block in Tin Shui Wai, New Territories before she plunged herself to death. It was later discovered that her husband is being hospitalized suffering from terminal cancer.

This family tragedy highlighted once again the many sad family stories in that district over the past decade. Many poor residents in Tin Shui Wai are new comers from the mainland. Support and social services provided by the government and volunteer agencies are highly inadequate. Many Christian churches flocked in the district doing little except to start their own “churches”. For long, the district has been labeled as the “City of Sorrow”. Why is this so? How many more times do people have to cry before we can hear? Has Hong Kong abandoned the people living far away from the city-centre?

Hong Kong is an affluent city by any world-standards. It has the capacities to the care of the unfortunate and the poor. Yet, in the policy address a month ago, the chief executive went the other way. His government proposes to spend HK$ 25 billion for ten large-scale infrastructure projects; decrease the salary tax and profits tax each by one per-cent… but refuses to do a little bit more to solve the inherent poverty problem in the territory.

Oftentimes tragedies occur because human beings do not want to help each other. We do not want to share, not because we are incapable, but because we do not want to.

Between August and September 1997, 2 women died within two weeks. Their deaths shook the whole world. Princess Diana died a tragic death as the result of her boy friend’s car crashed in Paris. Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Laureate, cited as the Saint in the ditches, died of cancer in Calcutta. Both women touched the lives of millions all over the world. Diana shared her life and embraced the lives of thousands who were HIV carriers or were suffering from AIDS. She brought to the world’s attention of the plight of the victims of land-mines. Mother Teresa unselfishly helped the dejected, the dying and the destitute over the span of half-a-century. Because of their willingness to share their lives, this world became a little bit brighter and more hopeful.

In the 1960s, there was an acute shortage of hospital beds in Hong Kong. In many public hospitals canvas beds placed on corridors were the order of day.

One day in early spring of 1968, during a case conference, the Director of Yang Social Service Centre and I were concerned about this problem. We discovered that a great many elderly patients had to convalesce in hospitals because they were single and had no one to take care at home. So we decided to run an experiment of home nursing. My job is to recruit 7 women from my church in Shek Kip Mei and his job is to liaise with Kwong Wah Hospital and send a missionary nurse to train the seven women with a bit of practical knowledge in “nursing”. The stage was set. A 67-year old heart patient Mr. Leung was discharged from Kwong Wah Hospital to go back to his home which was half of a 10 by 12 square feet cubicle in Block 11 of Shek Kip Mei Resettlement Estate. The seven women were to take turns to go visit Mr. Leung and spent up to an-hour and a-half daily. They gave him medicine, cleaned his small space, helped him to get up and moved around a bit, got water from the public area and boiled it, helped him to wash his body, and so on.

When I visited Mr. Leung in the beginning, he had a stone face. I had a feeling he was waiting to die. But weeks later when I visited Mr. Leung again, he smiled at me. He became a lot better physically and spiritually, thanks to the love and care of the seven women. Mr. Leung’s neighbours also were touched by these “Christian” women and they began to care for him too.

After 2 years and 7 months, Mr. Leung passed away peacefully. The story did not end there. The 7 elderly women, with little or no formal school education have helped launched the very much needed home nursing program in full-scale in Hong Kong. In 1973, this program was started to be subvented by the government. The 7 women had worked wonders simply because they decided to share a little of their life with the person in need.

Contrary to the Synoptic Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, the Gospel of John did not include Jesus’ institution of the Holy Communion or the eucharist. But to many Biblical scholars, John’s account of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 carried the equivalent meaning of the institution of the Holy Communion. As in the institution recorded in Mk, Mt and Lk, central to the feeding story in John was Jesus’ acts of taking the bread and giving thanks to God. After that he distributed the bread to people. Jesus had used this miracle to symbolize that He is the Bread of life (Jn 5:35 and 48). Jesus shared his life with all of us. In sacrificing his life, he was able to restore our life from brokenness to wholesome – from life reduced to oneself to the life in communion with God. Hence Jesus was able to declare: “I have come so that you may have life (or eternal life) and have it to the full.” (Jn 10:10).

Indeed, John’s Feeding miracle has the redemptive overtone. It took place during the Passover Festival (vs 6:4) – the festival to commemorate God’s deliverance of the Jews from the bondage in Egypt.

The Old Testament lesson we read this morning, viz Is 65:17-25, is about a vivid description of the New Creation. God said, “I am going to create new heavens and a new earth.” (vs. 17). Human beings have destroyed the heaven and earth God has created as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 through self-deceit and more importantly disobedience to God. In God’s new creation, everyone is happy because they or rather we all have a part in it. We are able to share and enjoy the fruits of our work.

Now, let me say a few words about our eucharist liturgy or the order of our communion service proper. It basically follows the Trinitarian formula: our faith in God the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer, (or traditionally the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit).

The first part is the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (or the Eucharistic Prayer). We are summoned to thank God for His mighty acts and what He has done for all humanity.

The second part concerns Jesus’ Institution of the sacrament. We rehearse Jesus’ institution of this holy Eucharist to commemorate His act of redemption. Jesus himself is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We conclude this part by praying the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer which Jesus himself taught his disciples.

The third part concerns the invocation of the Holy spirit. We ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us so that we can feel the meaning and power of this Holy communion.

Then the bread and the wine, which symbolize the body of Jesus Christ broken for us and the blood of the same shed for us, are distributed to all as a symbol of all those who decide to share or to participate in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ.

Our order of service for the Holy Communion begins with a sign of peace and reconciliation. This is in line with what Jesus taught his followers, “If you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother/ sister has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother/sister first, and then come back and present your offering.” (Mt. 5:23). It ends with a prayer of thanksgiving. We thank God for nourishing our life through His Incarnate Word. Jesus Christ our Lord has bequeathed us with the life in full through his sacrifice. We too can live that abundant and fulfilled life through following Jesus by adopting His sacrificial life style.

With a spirit of humility, gratitude and dedication, let us come to the table and celebrate once again the Holy Communion.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Monday, November 05, 2007

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