Reflections...

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

Rejoice In The Word Of God

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 24th May 2009 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 1 and John 17:6-19.


Prayer: God of Trinity, may your word inspire us and guide us to understand your truth. May your word touch our heart and give us strength and hope. Amen.

Today is Asia Sunday. This is a designated Sunday initiated by the Christian Conference of Asia for a special celebration in Asia and among ecumenical organizations. As we live in Hong Kong and our church is located in Asia, this special Sunday is meaningful to us. It is a time for us to give thanks to the Lord for the gifts and grace to the people in this continent, so rich and diversified. It is a time to demonstrate concern and solidarity to our neighboring countries. Concern and support especially to people and countries which have been undergoing warfare, human right abuses by autocratic rulers, economics problems and poverty due to poor political and social systems.

The theme for Asia Sunday this year is ‘Tear Drop’. It symbolizes the country of Sri Lanka. People in this country have been suffering from ongoing civil wars. The wars have brought to people nothing but violence, division and poverty. Obviously, Sri Lanka is not the only country in Asia suffering from all the aforementioned

Despite the fact that we face so many troubles in Asia and in the world, we as God’s people are able to rejoice in the word of God. We are a community of faith that we need to share this message of joy and hope to people who are still struggling for peace and justice.

As a community of faith, we are able to rejoice in the Word of God. What is the Word of God in the first place?

The Word of God is God, Godself. In the beginning is the Word, and the Word was with God, the Word was God (John 1:1). God takes the initiative to come to the world through Jesus Christ, to reveal Godself. ‘The Word became flesh and lived among us, Jesus, son of God comes to us. Jesus Christ as a manifestation of God’s presence and glory, he is full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14)

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus has told us that people of God would live in a terrible world. The world stands against God’s people who insist to stay with God, speak for the truth and stand for the righteous. Jesus understood that his believers might have a hard time to live in the world. Out of love and concern, Jesus prayed to God for his people before he left his earthly journey. He asked God to protect them. Jesus has made it clear that God’s people live in this world and yet they do not belong to the world. God’s people lead a life different from the world values. Because of this, they will face additional difficulties and hardship. As Jesus said, the world hated them. Jesus therefore, on behalf of the people, asked for God’s protection for them. Jesus has been standing for those who belong to God. If we truly believe in God, we should have no fear of the world. We should have no fear of the world’s antagonism against us, no fear of the world’s hatred to us if we stand where Jesus stood against the powerful who are doing evils and the wicked. Let us live with freedom, with Jesus’ love. There is no fear in love. (1 John 4: 18) The very freedom from God enables us to have inner peace and joy. Jesus has strengthened us to face the hardship, not to evade from it.

True it is very scary if we try to speak up for the truth and live a life against the powerful, and world values and norms. Yes, we may put ourselves at risk and in vulnerable position. It is like Jesus in his time when he challenged the authorities of the religious leaders. He eventually was put to death. But his death was not the end. His death was able to bring new life, it was a life of resurrection that brings forth hope and new possibilities to the world.

In addition, by going through the hardship with the full presence and help of God, we will grow and be sanctified in truth. It is through the hardship and suffering, God may help us to understand the deeper meaning of life. Jesus has asked God to sanctify the disciples’ life in truth, God’s word is truth. (John 17:17)

While we praise God for Jesus’ love and hope, as Jesus’ disciples we should take the footstep of our Lord Jesus to pray for people around us who are rejected by the world. Here the world means the authorities who hold power to manipulate other people and the systems.

In John 17:11, Jesus mentioned about ‘oneness’. Jesus is with God as one. He reiterated also disciples and the community of faith as one. Jesus Christ came to save the whole world, both Christians and non-Christians. Therefore, when Jesus talked about oneness, that connectedness refers to all people who belong to God. Those belonging to God are walking in the righteousness and truth of God.

People are able to rejoice in God when we are one and connected. Why? When people are serving one another and demonstrating solidarity, the evil cannot defeat God’s people. In addition, the connectedness of people with God is demonstrated in Jesus’ solidarity with humanity, especially to the poor, the blinds, and the oppressed. Jesus’ salvation to humanity was through his humility in suffering and his sacrifice. He stayed very close to human needs and plights. It therefore explains why the Church should be concerned for people who struggle for life and death. It explains why the church should have a stand for the weak, the oppressed and the marginalized. Only when the Church chooses to stand on the side of the righteous and the just, the people who are rejected and hated by the world can be saved from the wicked by God through us as God’s agent.

Recently, there are two issues that catch my attention. One of these is concerning the Burmese pro-democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She is charged by the military government for keeping a foreigner in her apartment without notifying the government. Bearing in mind that Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 13 years. The unreasonable charge of Aung San Suu Kyi by the military has aroused outraged opposition from the international community. There are signature petitions appealing to support the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and also other political prisoners. The other recent issue that strikes my heart is the 20th anniversary of the June 4 Student Democratic Movement in China. These two are examples that I would like to highlight, that the church should demonstrate her support and solidarity to the people who have been crying for action and for freedom and democracy. In a way, this appeal is very basic human rights which all people should be entitled to. God creates women and men to be all equal and deserving the basic human dignity and rights. No authorities should deprive other people’s freedom and rights for the sake of upholding their own power and interests. Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, and the students who died in the Democratic Movement in 1989, the pro-democratic leaders who were exiled and the Tiananmen Mothers in China are representation of the suppressed and the marginalized who call for truth and justice. There are Christians who may find it inappropriate for the Church to be involved in any social actions related to human rights or democratic movement for they may think that the issues are too political. Some may even think the Church should not be involved in political action and demonstration at all.

It is true that the Church is not a political body, she is not a pressure group or activist group to assert political influence for her own interest. Church is a community of faith in Christ. Church should not be reduced to a political body. However, the Church does not need to avoid any political action. Quite on the contrary, the Church has to make a stand in issues related to peace and justice. The call for peace and justice, is nothing more than a call for concern of humanity, a call for concern of people who suffer from human abuses, loss of dignity and basic human rights. Jesus identified with the poor and the oppressed, therefore whenever there is exploitation and oppression of the poor the Church must give a voice. Jesus came to the world for peace. If there are wars, injustice and abuse of power the Church should give a stand for love and peace. The church has a public role to play.

The support from the Church to the vulnerable and marginalized is a demonstration of God’s divine presence. Church’s participation makes the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized know that they are not alone. The church is with them. God of justice is with them. This is the Christian presence on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ to love, serve and witness.

The Church’s presence to the people who suffer and make a voice against injustice in society, is a social witness to tell people that God loves them and cares for them. The church and Christians as Christ’s disciples tell people who grieve and mourn, God is their comfort and light. When Church participates in actions for promoting peace and justice, it is time to tell people in the world that God teaches the disciples to love, even for enemies, and be faithful servant of Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.

Oneness in humanity through the demonstration of solidarity is so important. People who are in extreme sufferings and struggles will have the will power to continue if they find that they are not alone. When we offer our solidarity to people who are isolated and suppressed, we have demonstrated Christ’s solidarity with humanity. We would have practiced Jesus’ commandment of ‘love one another’. God is in us and we are in them.

Ding Zilin, (丁子霖) founder of the Tiananmen Mothers organisation. Her 19 year old son died in the Student Democratic Movement in 1989. She was under close monitoring near the time of June 4 every year. She, together with other mothers, has worked hard to find out the truth and seek justice for their sons and daughters who had sacrificed their lives in the democratic movement twenty years ago. Although she has been threatened and suffered a lot in the past years, Ding Zilin continues her tireless advocacy for truth and justice for the June 4 crackdown in China. She shared that the support of the Hong Kong people is one source of encouragement and strength. Since 1989, thousands and thousands of people in Hong Kong sign up different kinds of petitions and come to candlelight vigils to commemorate the students and continue the struggles for a democratic China on June 4. It is a demonstration of human conscience to do justice and stand for the righteous. Conscience is a gift of God. Righteousness is our God’s nature. As in Psalm 1:6, it reveals to us God watches over the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked will perish.

Conclusion

Today is the seven Sunday after Easter. It is also the last Sunday of the Eastertide.
The essence of Easter is hope. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that gives us the possibility of new life and love. We have to bear in mind however, hope in Jesus Christ is never meant to serve as anesthesia (麻醉劑) for pains encountered in realities or serve as an easy escape from harsh life conditions. No, not at all. Easter is a season of hope that gives us courage and strength to live in a world full of turmoil, violence, hatred and disappointment. We live in the world and yet we do not belong to this world. Given the hope in Christ, we are able to have the freedom and courage to walk in the path of righteousness.

God is good. God has promised us if we lead a life connected in the Word of God and in Christ, to lead a life of righteousness, we will not perish but have eternal life. God will help us to bear fruits according to seasons.

The resurrection of Jesus has changed the course of life of the disciples. He has also demonstrated new possibilities to the world. Let us go ahead in our life journey by walking together in a community in which Jesus Christ unites and bonds us together in love and joy.

May God bless you and Glory be to God our creator and redeemer. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, May 24, 2009

 

LIFE of a Believer

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 10th May 2009 by Bishop John Victor Samuel. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 22:25-31, Acts 8:26- 40, 1 John 4: 7- 21 and St. John 15:1- 8.


Today is 5th Sunday of Easter. Easter is celebration of life. It is celebration of life after death. We believe God gives us life at birth and life after death as well. Life is a gift of God. We humans love and are thankful for this gift life. We try our best to enrich this gift and make it beautiful and enjoyable. We, who who sit in the pews, make a powerful and profound statement to this fact and for our struggles and risks we take for this cause. Just look around and see how many nationalities, and races are represented here. We all came here to struggle, improve and better our lives. Each one of us have a dream as to what improved life means to us. Each one of us have a passion to fulfill our dreams. We all are accountable to our dreams. All of us and like us all humans have a dream of a quality life that we want to achieve. We take risks to fulfill our dreams.

I have said,The Easter is celebration of life after death. At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of of Jesus- his new life – Life after Death.

We also celebrate life after death for every believer who goes through the experience of dying in Christ Jesus and with Christ Jesus. A Christian who is in Christ, experiences Death to the world and new life for the world. This is what makes us to live in Christ and the experience of God's grace.

Fani Badayuni an Urdu poet, who is not a Christian, wrote a beautiful couplet. A free translation of this couplet goes like this : Every breath I take becomes a life lived, life indeed is rhythms of breaths- life-death- life-death. Every Christin believer goes through this experience of life and death particularly when a believer experiences sin, confession and forgiveness- a new life. The entire experience becomes a deep spiritual experience.

Church fathers, for the benefit of believers, worked out a Christian Calender, to learn each year, all phases of Christian life and its teachings.

We celebrate life at the time of Christmas when child Jesus was born. We celebrate life after Death at Easter. Our confession at Easter is that JESUS IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN AFTER REMAINING THREE DAYS IN THE GRAVE. The forces of the world both religious and secular killed JESUS, and placed him in a grave. He conquered death on the third day and all the political and religious powers could not hold him in the grave. A faithful Christian overcomes death in Jesus Christ, because of Jesus experience of death and resurrection. The experience of life in Christ and death in Christ is a unique experience of believers.

Humans have always in search of a life which they imagine they would enjoy and be happy. All thinking people reflect on life and its nature and raise many questions. Three questions are noteworthy. What is the meaning of life? What is the destiny of this life? How can we be happy in life? The pursuit of happiness is the most common activity of humans. But the question of life's meaning and its destiny is also a common inquiry.

The events in our community in which we live, our country and our world make us happy or unhappy. If happenings are to our liking and all our needs are met adequately, we are happy but if happenings are not to our liking and our needs are not met, we become unhappy. I believe all of us here have gone through this experience and every day go through this all the times.

Some people write their experience in the form of confessions which narrate their struggles and their faith story and the story of their happiness and unhappiness. The world has a good collections of such confessions. I chose this morning to share with you, very briefly, one such confession of a very well known person. Leo Tolstoy was baptized in Orthodox Christian faith, belonged to the elite society, an intellectual who wrote several books who became classics in literature. He in his confessions states that he left his Orthodox faith in his youth and lived a wild life but later in life he returned to his faith. He says in his confession “ Without faith one cannot live ---------- I was prepared now to accept my faith Then I began to cultivate the acquaintance of the believers from among the poor, simple and unlettered folk, of pilgrims, monks,dissenters, peasants..........I began to love those people. The more I penetrate into their life, the life of the men now living, and the life of men departed of whom I had read and heard, the more did I loved them, and easier it became for me to live...... within me took place a transformation, which has long been working within me........the life of all the working masses of all humanity, which created life presented itself to me in its real significance. I saw that that was life itself and that the meaning given to this life was truth and I accepted it " Leo Tolstoy once again became a valued member of faith community of the Orthodox Church.

Tolstoy chose to look into the lives of simple people and not at the people from his own social structure and he found the meaning of life. So often we have the habit of distancing ourselves from the poor and suffering. We love them from distance. What is required if to be with them to look at their life closely. There are many such confessions of people which help and give strength to the faithful persons and help them to live a meaningful life. Such is a transformation from faithlessness to faith that we work for. This cannot be achieved by human struggle only. It is the gift of the Grace of God to those who are ready to receive and learn to interact with the poor, weak and suffering. The gift of the Holy Spirit is a free gift of God. Whenever the gift of the Holy Spirit is spoken in the Gospel stories, it puts man, the receiver in the center.

We repeat our creed, at every worship, and we will do this today as well. We do this to announce our identity as to what who we are and what we believe. We confess that we believe in God, Jesus Christ God's son- God0man and we believe in the Holy Spirit. We talk of God, God-Man( Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit (man). The work of the Holy Spirit is through and in man, in his/her day-to-day life. When we talk about the life of a believer, we must talk about the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is explained in the Gospel to be helper, advocate and sustainer. The Holy Spirit is seen active every day in life of a believer, in all his/her struggles, joys and suffering.

The human struggle to find the meaning and quality of life in our world is a real concern. Jesus explains this in the Gospel story the meaning of life and its quality is the kind of fruit one bears. The fruit of life through the process of life is the main purpose and meaning of life. We heard this morning a very well known passage from St. John's Gospel, which was read to us.

"I am the true vine and my father is vine grower.,,,,,,, abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine,neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches." " Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing."

The meaning of life suggested by Jesus in this passage is to bear fruit. This can only be possible by abiding in him as a branch needs to be part of vine to bear fruit. The words of John 3:16 rings in every believers ears " for God so loved the world that he gave his only son , so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." The eternal life is everlasting life, a life where peace abides. The meaning of life and destiny of human life is best understood when one abide and live in Christ and bears fruit.. The act of abiding in Christ is best symbolized by the relationship of vine and branch. It is this relationship which bears fruit. Without this relationship there no chance to bear fruit both by vine and by Christian Believer. To abide in Christ and bear fruit is the function of the The Faith Community – the Church of Jesus Christ. How are we doing it? Do we know that this function is happening? Are congregations positioned to work and help members to abide in Christ and bear fruit? I do not expect any answer. But it is worth while to keep this question in our mind.

Make no mistake, organization is important as long as it help believers to abide in Christ and bear fruits. The quality of life and the real fruit expected from the life of the believers is to devote their lives for others. Those who abide in Him must live for the life of the world as Jesus Christ lived for the life of the world.

The life of Jesus Christ needs to be our Guide and worthy of imitation.
St Mark's gospel records that after Jesus baptism “ the spirit immediately drove him out into wilderness.” After forty days in the wilderness, he came to Galilee where he began his ministry by proclaiming the good news of God and and said “ The Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” The good news is that kingdom of God is at hand. Kingdom of God is where God will rule. God Himself will set this kingdom by sending His son in the world in human form. The supreme and a great act of God is that – heavenly being coming down in the world to become human being. Truly becoming a God-man to be the life of the world. A Creator of the World and life giver now Himself sets a new paradigm for the believers in Jesus Christ – God-man. To set this paradigm required an act of love. This act of Love involved God to empty Himself to take the form of a man – God man and go to the point of bearing cross for the life of the world. This act of God is beyond human reason, beyond human rationality. The act of Love in not rational act.
As humans and depending of reason and rational thinking the act of love could be called an irrational act. Yes this is the reason that God's intervention in Love,we call this a mystery.

This paradigm is new and unique in human history and has no compromises and no substitutes. All the great exponents of this faith state in clear terms that basic action of believer in Christ is Love. The demands of Love is to empty one's self like God. Gospel of John 3:16 states that God loved the world and he sent His only son so that they( humans) may have life. Our reading this morning 1John 4:7-21 clearly states that God is love. Love comes from God. The nature of God is love and one who does not go through the experience of Love will never understand the act of God. The process to empty oneself(kinosis) is the act like God. It is the act of love. St. Paul wrote a great poem on the theme of Love when St. Paul came to know of in-fights in the faith community at Corinth.

We do not need to go in details of the misunderstandings and fights in the Corinthian community. But just see what Paul proposes for the faith community to do as solution for fights and misunderstandings. He asks them to love each other. Hear what he writes:-

“love is patient; love is kind;love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way;it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”
What a panacea for every hostility and hate. Let us look at the last words of this beautiful poem:-

“ And now FAITH, HOPE and LOVE abide, these three;
and greatest of these is LOVE.”

You know why the greatest is Love? Remember, Faith is a learned phenomena of the past. Faith is memory of the past. It is great to have faith as an anchor that we hold on to. Faith is important. Hope is future reality based on faith which is the product of past memories ( faith). But Love is present reality. It is related to present LIFE and its reality. It is related to us all and to the entire human community now, It is our present need, a panacea for all our hateful acts in the world. In our world arena we face hate and its manifestations day in and day out. It is here that Love is needed to counter the forces of hate. It is hear that we require forces of Love to build peace and reconciliation in our world.

Several years ago I read some short stories by Jean Paul Sartre, a French existentialist . All his stories were depicting some acute social realities. The story depicts human relationship. The synopsis of the story goes like this: A woman of a questionable character dies who was convinced that she would go to hell when she dies. After her death an angel led her to a large gloomy building and ushered her in a small room and closed the door. She was examining the place when she heard the footsteps of someone coming. The door was opened and Angel ushered in a man and the door was closed. He too was expecting hell as his abode after death. Both looked at each other in an effort to know the other. They heard some one approaching close to their door. The door opened and Angel ushered a women in and as usual closed the door behind. Three of them tried to stare each other to understand the situation. There was only one chair in the room. The women who came first felt she has the right to use this chair. After some time the other women claimed her right to use the chair. They argued which developed into the use of bad language and soon they started tearing each others clothes and using fists. The man began to yell at the top of his voice, This is our hell. Yes, this is a great realty of our world. We have not learned how to live with each other. Hate in us begin to explode because we have no patience to tolerate others and others point view. Just imagine how we are busy creating hells for ourselves..

If there is any thing that we love most, it is ourself and our life. All our struggles are to fashion our lives according to our dreams. We , in this church, come here from many parts of the world to improve and better our lives. We love our life. I wonder if we ever reflected on our dreams, our actions,our hopes and our life. With all our struggles, our heartaches and our frustrations, are we closer to achieving our dreams of quality life?

The way God wants us to have a quality life - eternal life, is in the way of love. The way of love is the way of God, The way of God-man, Jesus Christ. The way of love will not only transform each one of us. But begins the possibility to transform the whole world. The world in which shalom, peace will reign and this will be the Kingdom and rule of God. Do we want to claim this life, a life after death, a life after many deaths, a life which is emptied and a life which is devoted for others. A life which is devoted for the life of the world.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, May 10, 2009

 

Determination To Love

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 3rd May 2009 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 23, I John 3:16-24 and John 10:11-18.


Opening Prayer

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.
Introduction

Psalm 23 and Gospel John 10 that we read this morning are familiar scripture about good shepherd. God our creator and Jesus Christ our redeemer are regarded as our good shepherd to care for us, protect us from enemies, and so love us even to die for us as Jesus had done this. The green pasture pictures a place of tranquility and a place of rest.

God has given us rest and the best in life. In God’s provision and life giving love through Jesus, apostle John challenged us to learn and follow Jesus’ words and deeds to lead a life of love and service to God by abiding to our Lord’s commandment of loving each other.

The central biblical message of today’s sermon sounds straight forward and yet it is very challenging for us to be determined like our Lord Jesus to commit our lives to God. It is challenging to us because we are human beings and full of weaknesses and limitations.

Jesus regarded himself as a good shepherd. One of the characteristics of being a good shepherd is his strong will and great intention to love his sheep. He was willing to pay the great cost. Jesus’ love is so deep that he has even lain down his life for them. The sacrifice was out of love and was voluntary. He was not being forced to do so.

Good shepherd offers rest and the best to the sheep. While we enjoy the grace and privilege from our God, the shepherd, have we thought of the pains and sufferings the good shepherd Jesus bore for his sheep?

I would like to share with you a story about my eldest sister. She was divorced without any children. She volunteers herself to take care of our niece, the daughter of our brother. Our brother has been under medication for over 20 years because of his chronic illness. My sister-in-law cannot take care of their child for some reason. My niece was diagnosed as an autistic child and requires a lot more patience and love in taking care of her. My eldest sister is very patient to teach and nurture our niece. The progress of our niece is however unstable. It is often like two steps forward and one step backward. Our niece is 11 years old. Like many other adolescents our niece has become rebellious. It makes my eldest sister very frustrated. In many occasions when she feels so disappointed and upset, she thought of giving up. But what keep her to continue is her love and her promise to our mother. My eldest sister as the first child in our family, she has a very close relationship with our mother. As our mother has been very worried about our brother because of his health problem, my eldest sister has promised her that she will help our brother to take care of his family. My eldest sister pays great efforts and offers her time and energy to take care of our niece since she was three years old. It has been 8 years since then. I can feel my sister’s struggles all along. Even though my sister has been facing difficulties to take care of our niece, she continues to keep and serve this child. She shares that the compassion towards this child keeps her going. As she is not the biological mother of the child, she can have every reason to take the child back to her parents, but she realizes that it is not the right time to make such a move for the child’s sake. It is her strong faith in Jesus and strong link to the love of God that keep her patience and acceptance toward our niece.

I have great respect for my eldest sister. She did not receive formal education for she had to go out to work since 11 years old for our family was poor and she had to earn money to reduce the financial burden of the whole family. Although she was so deprived of formal education and material life when she was young, she never complains but remains very committed to serve the family. She is definitely a giver, a cheerful giver. Jesus commanded us to love one another. However, it is not easy at all for some people especially those who have wounds or hatred inside their hearts. When people’s hearts are filled with hatred and complaints, there is no place for love. My eldest sister is able to give thanks and praise God for everything that she is given. Although she did not get a proper education and in a way very much deprived when she was a child, she accepted it for she understood it was caused by the circumstances then. She is able to lead a happy and peaceful life for she depends on God’s provision and care. Her faith in God has given her freedom and joy. In return, she shares her grace with other people.

To be faithful to God and take up the role of the good shepherd is not as easy as one imagines. The process is full of struggles and tests. The good shepherd has to pay great cost. Only when the shepherd has great determination can he/she stand for it and persist. Our Lord Jesus’ determination to love us by laying down his life to save all humanity has demonstrated the possibilities of radical love and power of life over the power of death. Jesus’ strong will power and resurrection power has overcome evil that brings us hope and courage.

As pastor of the church, I have gone through similar struggles during the course of ministry and preparation for ordination. A full time vocation to serve in a local church is a great challenge. There have been times of frustrations and enormous pressure along the path of ministry. Whenever I felt very negative to myself and the ministry, and depressive emotion overwhelmed my mind and my heart, I would think of leaving due to personal weakness. But thank God that the gracious love of Jesus Christ through the Spirit fills me with hope and courage time and time again. The love of God empowers me and carries me through. Jesus’ determination to love and serve people by overcoming his pains and sufferings on the cross is striking. God encourages me through words of encouragement from friends of the congregation, sometimes it is through the hymns, sometimes it is through prayers and scriptures that God speaks to me directly of God’s love and will.

From Jesus and my eldest sister, I can see the power of ‘determination’. Radical love induces great human power to find ways to achieve the impossibilities.

The call to become a shepherd for God like Jesus is not a privilege offered to pastors only. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls all his disciples, that is, both you and I to be good shepherds, to love and take care of others who are in need.

The first case of H1N1 human swine Flu in HK was confirmed on Friday night, 1st of May. Hong Kong Pandemic response level was raised to the top grade of ‘emergency’. The Metropark Hotel where the infected Mexican man stayed before his hospitalization was under seven days quarantine lockdown. A series of actions have been taken by the HK government in response to this first confirmed case.

The Government of the Hong Kong SAR has demonstrated her determination to control the spread of the H1N1 human swine flu in Hong Kong. The outbreak of H1N1 human swine flu virus which has taken nearly 100 lives in Mexico has alerted the world. Hong Kong people have learnt a great lesson and paid great cost from the outbreak of SARS in 2003. The virus took away 300 of our lives and more than 1700 people were infected.

The threat of the H1N1 human swine flu has somehow reminded me the horrible and yet touching moments in Hong Kong in 2003 when there was the city wide outbreak of SARS. I remembered the young medical doctor, Dr. Tse Yuen Man who was a Christian. Because of her determination to serve her patients, she had given her best till the very end, she offered her precious live in that battle against SARS. Many people in Hong Kong were greatly touched by her sacrificing love and had demonstrated great respect to her deep commitment to her patients. 2003 was a splendid year to the people of Hong Kong. Amidst of the threat of the deadly disease, the community had demonstrated the spirit of mutual support and love for one another.

Dr. Tse Yuen Man died of SARS when she carried out her duties as a medical doctor to provide treatment to patients. Dr. Tse was a shepherd to her patients. She had given her life for her sheep (the patients). As a matter of fact, that there were many other good shepherd during this time of crisis that had helped the community to overcome the trauma.

God is our good shepherd. God our creator is always there to provide us with what we need, to save us from enemies, and to give us an enriched life. God has demonstrated God’s love through Jesus’ determination to sacrifice and die for people and the world. We as disciples of Jesus are challenged today to take up the cross with determination of loving God and loving each other. We are reminded to learn from Jesus and become good shepherds to lead a life of love and service by following Jesus’ commandment of loving one another. With our faith in Jesus Christ and with this determination to love, we are given the power from the Holy Spirit to the act of love.

Mother Theresa, a prominent nun had devoted her life to serve the poor and the sick. She was a good shepherd in our time. This good shepherd had demonstrated her great determination to love and serve God through her committed service to the poor.

At the end of my sermon, I am going to share with you a power-point that I received through e-mail. I found the words are very meaningful and encouraging.

Virus is contagious, love is contagious too. The power of love is much greater than the power of virus. Our determination to love will bring a great difference to the life of others and the world.

May God bless you and give you strength. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, May 03, 2009

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