Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church
A Farewell Sermon
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 22th February 2009 by the Rev. Kwok Nai Wang. The scripture readings that day were Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and John 15:1-17.
This is my 60th and the very last sermon I shall deliver as the Senior Minister of KUC. During my nearly 43 years in the Christian ministry, I always consider Preaching as the most important task of a minister. As the word “minister” suggests, the primary function of a minister is to serve – to serve the Word of God; or in more concrete terms, to serve people with God’s Word.
Ministers always preach on God’s Word. As the Bible was the very first faith documents of two faith communities, namely: the Israelite people around 1,000 B.C. to about 100 A.D. and the Early Christian Church around 35 to 120 A.D. to expound on God’s Word; therefore preaching has to be based on the Bible. Preaching is always Biblical preaching. However, preaching does not stop there. Preaching has to link-up the Biblical faith and the human situations to-day. In other words preaching makes God’s Word alive and relevant to all of us.
The apex of God’s Word is God in Jesus Christ. As the Apostolic Preaching, i.e. the preaching of Peter and Paul as recorded in Acts have shown us, Jesus, as the Incarnate God, was put on a cross and God had raised him to life on the third day. Christ’s sacrificial love, as epitomized by his absolute obedience to God, even unto death as well as his humble service to the humankind, has become the nucleus of God’s Word. We have seen how God’s Word comes to us in every page of the Bible as well as in all of history. It comes to us always as the Word of Possibility and Hope; Comfort and Strength.
The Word of God is the Word of Possibility. The Old Testament gave us many and various conditions of human life: deceit, jealousy, pride, oppression, greed, wars, conquests and defeat, etc. But in all of these situations, good or bad, life goes on. In the midst of impossibility, there was always possibility. The Israelites were in Egypt since Joseph was made a chancellor by Pharaoh. They became numerous and stronger than the Egyptians. So the Egyptians decided to suppress them, treat the Israelites as slaves and infantilized all the male babies. It became an impossible situation for the Israelites. God then sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt, the land of bondage and instructed them to become God’s chosen people.
The Word of God is also the Word of Comfort.
“Comfort my people, comfort them says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and cry to her that her period of service is ended and that her guilt has been atoned for”. (Isaiah 40:1-2)
The word “comfort” in Hebrew means to give strength or to strengthen.
The Israelites were forced to exile to Babylon. The Holy city and their holy temple were destroyed in the 6th Century B.C.E. They became a powerless and hopeless people. But in the midst of all this the Word came to them through Prophet Isaiah. This Word did not only predict the deliverance of the Israelites and their return home. Later, it became known to the faithful that this Word was about the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah who came to save the oikoumene or the whole inhibited earth from self-destruction.
Jesus came as he ultimate Word of Possibility and comfort. Members of KUC must live by this Word individually and corporately. Further, you must try to witness to this Word to the wider community in Hong Kong and beyond. This is God’s calling to you!
How to do it?
First, you have to set your focus right. Your focus should ever be on God and God alone; and never, never on yourself. You owe your existence to God. So whenever you gather, your primary function is to worship God: to magnify God’s name, that is God’s relationship to all humanity and indeed to His entire creation. God is our God and we are God’s people.
When I first arrived at KUC, I have often been told this is not KUC; that is not what KUC has been doing. I did a lot of soul searching. What I tried to guide KUC is nothing else but to enable the congregation at KUC to be God’s people or to put in other words, to be a truly worshipping community. In order to do that I have to do away a lot of idols in our hearts – the biggest of these of course is the “self”.
Every Sunday, I arrive at KUC at least half-an-hour early before the worship time. I would spend a few minutes to make sure that things on the chancel are in proper place. I robed. Then I would stand and look out the window. I see the buzzing world in miniature outside. Hundreds of people walk by in a hurry. My question is: what is the relationship between what we are doing inside the Church and these passers-by who go around minding their own business? Superficially no relationship whatsoever. But as I reflect on it deeper, I feel what we are doing inside the sanctuary must have some relationship with these passers-by and indeed all people around the world. Because ultimately we worship God not for ourselves. Rather we worship God on behalf of all humanity. I just could not imagine what it would be like if the human race live completely apart from God. For without God, human beings will not be human beings. For human beings as truly human beings cannot be separated from God. God as the creator and human beings as the created must co-exist. So whenever we worship God, we are trying to maintain the humanness that is within human beings. In other words, we represent the passers-by and all the people who are outside the church to worship God. This “representational” kind of act is awesome. You must accept this task graciously and seriously. Worship at KUC should not be ordinary business. Worshipping God is of utmost importance; for God is the centre of our being! Quoting from the Acts of the Apostles: “In God we live, we move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).
Second, a church is not an ordinary human organization. A church, any church, belongs to God. It is God’s church. KUC as a church of God stands under God. In God we trust. In God we live and in God we act.
God is not an abstract concept. The God we believe in is always the God in Christ.
Jesus Christ came to us as a sacrificial lamb. In eucharist or holy communion, we celebrate the reality that Christ’s body is broken for us. When we partake in Christ’s body, we too must be prepared to become like Jesus and sacrifice our body for the well being of the less fortunate and those in dire need. Every time we celebrate Christ’s body broken for us; we must decide that our body be broken for others, so that like us, the body of many others might have the possibility of becoming whole again.
For this is the ultimate meaning of the holy communion. In this sacrament, God’s invisible grace is made manifest to all of us. The church, as a visible body should thus remember always that it has the responsibility to manifest God’s grace whenever and wherever it may be. In other words, KUC should never forget to show to the world that God is the God of Grace and Love.
How does KUC go about doing it?
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in two very distinguished local churches. One was my field work church, the United Church of Christ in New Haven, Connecticut, or generally known as Centre Church on the Green. The other was my first parish church, Shum Oi Church of the Church of Christ in China in Shek Kip Mei, the very first Resettlement Estate in Hong Kong.
Centre Church founded in 1634 is a very historic church. During my days there between 1965-1966, twice a week there were guided tours at this church. Many visitors came to see its crypt especially where many famous personalities in New England were buried. But to me, Centre Church is not only an historic church, it is a model church of what a local church should be. Though with very few members and worshippers, for years it engaged (with a bit of federal funding) in the renovation of houses in the inner city of New Haven which was very run-down. Centre Church cared for the inner city where it was located. It stood for urban renewal. What does KUC stand for?
When I started my ministry at Shum Oi Church, its brand new building has just completed. But at the time, this grand and spacious church building had nothing to do with the dilapidated and crowded resettlement estate. We got to work. We wanted to change Shum Oi Church from a self-serving church to a neighborhood church. We worked with a group of young people in the parish. We published an informative quarterly. We organized Christian carnivals for the children. Annually we produced a calendar with meaning for every home in our parish of around 8,000 residents. We opened our buildings as study rooms for high school students who lived nearby, and so on. In a word, we wished to turn the church into a church existed for the community rather than existed for self-interests and preservation of members. Even up to this day, Shum Oi Church, literally means Deep Love Church, remains a model which church people still talk about. How about KUC?
This world is full of animosities and self-deceit. We no longer trust one another. Also wars and conflicts abound in the world, even in Hong Kong as well as in our midst. This world desperately needs signs of Peace and Reconciliation. Can KUC be one?
To-day, almost all local churches are rather inward-looking. Only when we look at their annual budgets, programs and projects will suffice to make the point. We do a lot of things, but how are these things relevant to the human cry all over the world? We must try to turn KUC to be an outward looking church. KUC exists in and for the world!
This is a choice we have to make. Do we gather together just for the sake of protecting and enhancing members’ welfare? In other words is the emphasis of KUC to look after the members’ physical, mental or spiritual needs? Or we will honour the fact that we are called by God and gather together and be a body of servants in the world? There is a vast difference between the two. One is that we are an in-group, only trying to satisfy our needs and then secondly to do a few good things. The other is that we do not look at our wounds and our needs as much. Rather, we concentrate to be faithful to God’s calling and look at where and how God wants us to serve Him in this world.
Oftentimes, we are too preoccupied with satisfying our own needs. As a result, we worry too much. We will be in trouble if we are only concerned about ourselves. For along the way of self-serving only, we lose ourselves. We will be disconnected with God, with other people as well as with ourself. Always remember how the Christian Gospel comes to us: “anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for Jesus’ sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his own life? And indeed what can anyone offer in exchange for his life.” (Mark 8:35-37// Matthew 16:25-26// Luke 9:24-25// John 12:25). The Christian Gospel is ultimately the Gospel of Renunciation. Jesus beckons us to become like him: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”. (Mark 8:34// Matthew 16:24// Luke 9:23).
May every member of KUC live by this Gospel and may KUC as a church try to live by this Gospel and share it with many people in Hong Kong and beyond.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end; Amen.
Move on with God’s Might and Mercy
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 8th February 2009 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 40:21-31 and Mark 1:29-39.
God of Trinity, open our mind to understand your will and open our eyes to see your truth, with a thankful heart we pray, amen.
There are some people who never go to church but when they encounter personal crisis and problems, they may go to the church searching for comfort and a way out. It is very natural to seek help and look for alternatives when people face difficulties in life. Many people encounter God’s might and mercy when they face immense problem that are beyond their capacity to cope.
I know a brother-in-Christ, I call him Lam, who was a drug addict for over 20 years. He suffered from serious lung problem because of this bad habit. During one Christmas he suffered severely and had to be admitted to a hospital. The nurses in the hospital were very kind to him. They gave him soup to drink and offered very tenderly service. During the Christmas eve, the nurses together with some other Christians sang him Christmas songs and brought him presents. He was very touched and felt strongly the presence of God through the loving act of the nurses. As a drug addict he had never been received so warmly by people, not even by his own family. He was converted to Christianity after being discharged and his life has been changed drastically since then. He does not take drugs anymore and instead began working for a Christian drug rehabilitation organization to serve the youth who experienced similar problems like himself.
When brother Lam was healed and cured, with a thankful heart to God, he decided to follow Jesus’ footstep to serve others by using his experience. As is well known in the field of drug rehabilitation program, the relapse rate of rehabilitated drug addicts is high. One of the reasons for Lam’s success to turn away from drug completely is his conviction and actions to serve God by serving people with backgrounds like him. He has changed his life from self-centred, to a focus for God and to God. After he was cured, Lam did not focus on his own problem and sickness, he moved on to serve with God’s love to others. He finds his life more meaningful and fruitful. Later on he had even met a woman in his work setting and got married. Now he has a family with two lovely children.
I knew a sister in a local congregation, who criticized that her pastor had spent too much time serving the new immigrant children and families in the community, but has neglected the pastoral care and needs of the congregation members internally. She stressed that she was in need of pastoral concern from the pastor but was not given enough of it. There are sisters and brothers who regard a pastor’s prime role is to nurture their congregation members. From what Jesus had done, the healing role of a pastor is beyond questions.
I have no right to challenge the sister’s needs for pastoral care and yet I feel sorry for her because she has taken up a passive and victim’s role all along. It is this self-centering on her own need and clinging on too much of the personal problems that make her life so frustrating and unfulfilling. Many people who are sick physically or psychologically, are comforted and healed by the love of God through the care and concerns by pastors, sisters and brothers in the church. The church perhaps has been so successful in this regard that some people enjoy such kinds of concern too much. They stick to this state of comfort and do not want to move on. They want to play the sick role so that people around them will continue to care for them.
Healing is an important aspect of God’s love, it falls upon the people to show our Lord cares. However, the healing from God should never be taken for granted by a sick person. After healing, the person should be able to stand on her or his own feet with self care and responsibility. There are many people including Christians who take up a patient’s role, that is a sick role consciously or unconsciously. The trade off for them to take up a sick and victim role is they feel safe and are able to continue to enjoy the care and love from others without taking responsibilities.
If we cling on to the past and continue to play a victim and sick role, we cannot go very far. Take a look at Simon’s mother-in-law as revealed in the gospel of Mark 1. Once she was cured by Jesus, she began to serve Jesus and the disciples immediately without hesitation. A life of serving others is more fulfilling and joyful. We can lead a life of abundance when we are able to serve others. Brother Lam whom I just shared is a life witness in our time.
What if there are situations when the illness is not cured?
Of course there are times when we ask God to heal and cure, and yet the illness is still there. The health problems cannot be resolved. Audrey Yu Yuet Mei, a barrister in her profession and current Legislative Councilor representing the legal constituency of Hong Kong. Last year, before the Legislative Council election, a tumor was found in Audrey Yu’s brain. The tumor was a risk to her life but it was something outside her control. When she considered whether she should take rest for the sake of her health or go ahead with the election campaign and continue to serve the society, she eventually decided to join the election campaign, not only on her own, she went a step further to support a young woman to run the election as a pair partnership in one electoral ticket so as to groom a political leader for the next generation. When Audrey Yu was asked if she worried for her health, she said she just went ahead to do the right things and tried not to focus on the problem. Audrey Yu has revealed one truth, if we worry too much of the things that we cannot control, it does no good to us and other people. On the contrary, if we have faith and confidence that Jesus Christ our healer is always right here to cure and restore our whole being physically, psychologically and spiritually, we then know that we are saved. God has fulfilled his promise of healing with his might and mercy. For Jesus Christ is the redeemer of all humanity. Those who believe in him has been given the hope of eternal life. It is this eschatology of hope that brings us the possibility of change. It is this hope that gives us courage to go ahead with confidence.
Similarly, when the economic crisis drags on and we are affected adversely, we can stay complaining and live in fear by filling in a victim’s role, or we choose to think and act with confidence that our Lord God who has created the earth and through Jesus Christ lives amongst us with mercy, we are empowered to face our problems and continue our journey with responsibility. When there is a crisis, it is time for us to stay closer to God and pray to understand the will of God on these matters and wait for the renewal. Be sure that we are not waiting for nothing, we wait and act by bearing in mind that our Lord God is there, God is the source of everything. We are his beloved children and will be protected and guided. When we wait and keep our focus in God, we will be regenerated and strengthened.
Being threatened by the global financial tsunami, the United States has been criticized by other nations for their over-consumption and poor monitoring of the financial institutions that induced such a world-wide economic disaster. What is very unacceptable to other governments from the international community is that the United States tried to stay away from their responsibilities and has asked others to pay for their cost. While the American financial institutions and their government should critically examine their responsibilities, we people around the world who are also affected by the world wide economy in nowadays global world, we should also have to sincerely reflect on whether we have taken our responsibilities and not shifting the cost to other people especially those who in less advantageous position to defend themselves. We must remember that our Lord God is the source of the creation and merciful to people especially the weak and the powerless.
Therefore when we move on in the midst of crisis of different kinds, with God’s might and mercy, we have to be aware that we do not move on, just for our own self on an individual basis, but we should have the communal dimension to concern and take care of the weak and less fortunate.
Go back to brother Lam. He was healed and encountered with God in person. But it was the nurses in the communal setting of the hospital that brought him the complete cure of his sickness, both biologically and spiritually. Reading from Mark 1, we see how Jesus’ disciples served in a communal sense by bringing Simon’s mother-in-law, and people who were sick with diseases and captive by demons to Jesus for healing. Without such collaborative and cooperative efforts for mutual care and help, the healing of whole beings can never be realized.
In his recent trip to Europe and speech in Cambridge, Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao highlighted that confidence, cooperation and responsibilities are the keys for the international communities to face the global financial crisis. To take Wen’s key idea in our Christian context, yes, confidence is important but it is confidence that granted fully in God who is mighty and merciful in nature. Cooperation is important, a genuine cooperation is fostered when people are able to think of other’ needs instead of just self interest, and base on the faith of loving one another in a communal sense. Responsibilities, for Jesus our healer and redeemer who has given people hope of change, that has encourage us to take responsibilities by engaging a life of serving. Our God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit make a better future possible and promising.
At the end of my sermon, I would like to read once again Isaiah 40:28b-31 for you.
When you are listening to me, I invite you to look at the picture of the bulletin’s front page and meditate on both the image of the eagle and the words of God.
“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youth will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall walk and not faint.”
May our Lord’s might and mercy give us courage and hope to move on with faith and joy.
Please continue to spend some time of silence to reflect on the word of God. (Iris play the music for 1 verse).
Journey to Jerusalem
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 1st February 2009 by the Rev. Kwok Nai Wang. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 122 and Luke 13:22-30.
Every human being has a journey in life. Nobody can escape that journey which is from womb to tomb. The question before us is how do we take that life journey?
Jesus’ journey was both intentional and focused. According to the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus first ministered or served the people in need in Galilee in the Northern part of the Holy Land (Mark 1:14-8:26; Matthew 4:23-18:35 and Luke 4:14-9:50). Then he journeyed down to Jerusalem in the South with his disciples (Mark 8:27-10:52; Matthew 19:1-20:34 and Luke 9:51-19:27). Jesus used this journeying together with his disciples to minister or to teach them about “discipleship”, or the true meaning of being his followers. Finally, all three gospels recorded Jesus’ ministry in and around Jerusalem in pretty much the same way (Mark chapters 11-16; Matthew chapters 21-28 and Luke 19:28-24:53). This was the apex of Jesus’ ministry. He sacrificed his life so that all human beings have the possibility of living a more focused and meaningful life. Therefore Jesus’ earthly life journey is best described as Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was the Holy City where the Temple was. It was and still is the socio-religious centre of the Jewish people. But unfortunately, for ages it had been tightly controlled by a group of priests, scribes, Levites and Pharisees. They had made the Jewish culture and tradition so institutionalized and the Law so literally interpreted that ordinary people had little room to maneuver. Jesus went to Jerusalem to challenge this. That explained why once in the temple, according to all the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus “began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons, and he would not allow anything through the temple…” (Mark 11:15-17; Matthew 21:12-13 and Luke 19:45-46).
Jesus had come to challenge the old, because the old could no longer represent God’s will adequately. The old or to be more precise the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets had become rather oppressive. For instance, faith in God’s creation as symbolized by the literal interpretation of the fourth commandment: “keep the Sabbath day sacred” was no longer relevant and meaningful to the ordinary people. For the authorities insisted that the Sabbath was a holy day of rest. So no matter what, even when people are hungry, nobody could go and get food for the hungry. If people got sick nobody could care for the sick (c.f. Mark 2:23-3:5; Matthew 12:1-13 and Luke 6:1-10). Since Jesus came to challenge this very point of view, so very early in his ministry, the “Pharisees went out and began at once to plot with the Herodians against Jesus, discussing how to destroy him” (Mark 3:6; Matthew 12:14 and Luke 6:11).
So why Jesus must go to Jerusalem? Jerusalem was once a holy city. But it had turned pagan in that it had come to the point of blinding people. It had prevented people to see the real meaning of life – to be connected to God and to one another.
What is to-day’s Jerusalem? What is it that we as Jesus’ disciples and as God’s servants in the world must overcome and say “no” to?
I remember in the days when I was a student, there was a deep sense of anti-Semitism in the main stream of Roman Catholicism as well as in the minds of many leading reformers. They did not only consider the Jews were responsible to crucify Christ; but also they were uncomfortable about the growing influence of the Jews all over Europe.
Then when I was about to retire from salaried positions, I sensed many Christian fundamentalists were hostile to the rapid expansion of Islam all over the world. They considered this as an anti-Christ movement.
In the wake of 9-11 in 2001 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many considered United States of America is the brand new Jerusalem. For the Bush administration thought that it is their prerogative to interpret what is right and what is wrong; which is good and which is evil. Thus they decided Iraq, Iran and North Korea were the axis of evil. So they waged war on Iraq. If the Iraqi war had not been dragged on, the war against Iran and the North Korea could not be avoided.
But then, as we analyze this a bit deeper, we can see the big business conglomerates especially in the fields of oil and weapon were behind all this. They had pushed U.S.A. to war and furthermore they had also influenced at least half of the American people to support the war, at least in the beginnings.
Of course it is not entirely fair to put all the blame on these greedy multi-national conglomerates for all the problems in the world; such as incessant violence and wars, the rapid widening gap between the rich and the poor. For they could not have any real chance to survive without the support of all of us one way or the other. For whether rich or poor we are very much materialistic and consumer oriented. In a way we are just as self-centred and greedy as the rich and the powerful. We say that the rich and powerful often “milk” or exploit the poor and the less fortunate. But what do we do to stop them?
However our situation (I often think all situations are God-given) our journey must be focused on to make this world a better place for all: where the hungry are fed, the wounded are nursed, the sick are being cared for, … so that everyone can play his/her part and live a meaningful life.
Jesus had to journey to Jerusalem because as he said, “it would not be right for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem” (Luke 3:33). Jerusalem had become a symbol of blocking human beings to live a full life. So Jesus had to go there to remove this block. It was by no means an easy and comfortable task. Jesus was humiliated by the social establishment, rejected by the crowds he had come to help, and finally be put on a cross to die. In a word, Jesus used his own precious life to do the job which is essential and necessary.
It’s true that Jesus’ sacrifice for the sake of humanity was definitive. However, human nature is such that God’s saving acts have to continue. That explains why Jesus chose twelve disciples and many others to follow his footsteps. To-day, Jesus calls us in the same manner: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him or her renounce himself or herself and take up the cross everyday and follow me.” (Luke 9:23// Mark 8:34// Matthew 16:24).
The answer to Jesus’ call is never easy. The New Testament lesson we read earlier on told us that many have tried to enter the narrow door, but only very few succeeded. Why? It is because we have to carry baggages. The door for Jesus’ disciples to enter is too narrow to accept people with bulky or excessive baggage. What are some of these non-essential baggages? Are they wealth, fame, popularity, status, success or religious accomplishments?
When we decide to follow Jesus, we must try to get rid of all these excessive baggage.
Look at that Indian Saint, Mother Teresa. When she died, her belongings, a sari and a pair of sandals were buried with her. This was highly symbolic of her simplicity. I recall some thirty years ago when I heard her lectured in an international conference in Singapore. She told us that she had nothing (meaning wealth or great talents) in her life to share with those in dire need except her heart. What a bliss to have reached that stage in life!
The answer to Jesus’ call to be his disciple is hard, very hard. However once you make that important decision in your life, the impossible becomes a possibility. It is because Jesus is not only our example of how best to live a fulfilled life; but also he is our enabler as well.
Recall how the Synoptic Gospels ended their gospels with Jesus’ commission to his disciples: in Matthew it was “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the son of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” (Matthews 28:19-20).
Please note that the great commission of Matthew consists of a sending forth (to make disciples for Jesus) and a benediction, or a promise: if we do what Jesus commands us to do, he is always with us.
Similarly in Mark, the sending forth is “to preach the gospel to all creation” and the promise is there will be signs of our capability to speak in tongues, to cast out evil; to cure the sick …” (Mark 16:17-18). In Luke the mission is to be Jesus’ witnesses of his death and resurrection; and to preach about the forgiveness of sins; the promise is the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:46-48).
As a matter of fact the word commission consists of two words, “com” is together and “mission” is to send. It means as long as we answer to God’s mission, we will never be alone. Emmanuel, God in Jesus Christ is with us. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us and assist us to complete whatever God wants us to do.
Our intentional and focused journey in life: to renounce ourself and to take up the cross, is extremely difficult. However, we are not alone. Many of our brothers and sisters before us; and if you look around hard enough, you will also discover many of our contemporaries are trying to engage in the same journey. Always remember these words of Jesus, “for where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” (Matthew 18:20). So have courage.
Let me end this sermon in the same manner as our New Testament lesson for this morning, with a doxology:
“Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:25b, quoting Psalm 118:26). Amen.
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