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

The Worst Sin

A dialogue sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 2 September 2012 by by Emmy* (a member of the SAL Youth Fellowship) and Phyllis Wong (Minister of Kowloon Union Church). The scripture readings that day were Psalm 15, Mark 7:1, 1–8, 14–15, 21–23 and James 1:17–27.

The worst sin (Emmy)

So there was the other night that I was having a sweet dream on my bed with a couple of Christians in that dream, and there, someone did the worst, the unforgivable sin. What I mean by that is someone swore, someone said bad word and everyone was like “Hey dude, you can't do that, you an't say that word, you're Christian you're not allowed to swear!”

That just led me thinking, “okay, Amen, we are Christian, we are representing Jesus and we should be behaving in a very Christian way with our speech and the way we act around people,” but then, how come I haven't heard people say that when it comes to bigger issue in life that Jesus addressed us to do, more like taking care of the sick, helping the orphans in need and feeding the poor and the old or the widows or the lames or just anybody who needs help? I have never seen a man walk by a street when there are homeless people crying or a widow next door struggling to pay rent and someone would come up to him and say “hey dude you're a Christian, you can't do that! You can't just walk away, you are not allowed to ignore them and pretend you see nothing!”

Isn't that exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 23? Jesus called that people in church “hypocrites”. You go to church every Sunday and Easter and Christmas and you give God one-ten of everything you earn, but you neglect the more important things like love, like faithfulness, and justice and mercy. Sometimes, we are like someone younger guys being a Sunday Christian and go back to the world of pornography when the church service is over, or to me, it's like a vegetarian pretending steak is an ugly version of carrot and continue enjoying the meal.

And in Matthew25, Jesus made the thing clear that when we are judged by the end of everything, it is not going to be about how many times you attended the church service or how many bible verses you have remembered in your life and how many worship concerts you have been to, but your Christian moral behaviour, whether you took care of the sick, or you helped the children in need, whether you fed the hungry or you neglected the widows struggling to pay glossary. He even said that “when you do those things, you do them to me. When you don't do those, you are neglecting, ignoring me.”

So after you hearing my sharing, you can do two things. One, you can forget everything I say and go back to your fruitless and blend Christian life that has no joy when you read the bible even though you don't like it, you pray to Jesus every day because this is what Christians do that you are doing it like you have to brush your teeth every morning, or like you have to make the bed because that is what people think a good son or daughter would do. Or two, you can understand the gospel is so beautiful that you are touched so then you love God and love people around you not because you have to but you understand how Jesus lay down his life for you, how he was thinking about you when being nailed on the cross, that you understand Jesus loves you so much that you want to do it back to the others.

Jesus calls us to be different, to not to like the rest of the world. It's so easy for us to say, “hey come on, let's not go with the flow, let's not to be afraid to be the different one.” But when we are really putting this to our real life, it's like a whole different matter. After reading a bible verse from Isaiah, I decided to help people around me. I have decided to try to do at least one thing that causes me to leave my comfort zone- whether it is striking up a conversation with someone at the store , meeting someone new at church , helping out more at a friend's a house , or giving my time to someone in need, despite being incredibly busy.

There was this day I was on Facebook and I decided to strike up a conversation with my classmates who I didn't know very well. Before I clicked their names, I was like, “Oh crap, why is it me? Why can't God You get someone to do?” Because I go to a Catholic school so I was actually complaining and hesitating, wondering why couldn't any of my Catholic classmates care for others instead of me. Still, it felt like God said to me directly, it was like, “No Em, it's you. You're the only Christian in your class and you have to do it. It's you, I want you to do it.” So I just started talking to them. Though the conversation was absolutely awkward, at least I got to know their problems and prayed for them.

And so, my last question to you is when you died, what do you want us to say? You want us to say this guy is a Christian and he is not addicted to drug and he gave God a wealthy one-ten of his everything, or you want us to say this guy is messy, he had a hard life, but he spend his entire life loving God, helping the poor and the sick, and loving people around him.

Because here's the truth, if Jesus completely emptied himself for you, what keeps you from emptying yourself for the others?

* Emmy was sick on that day, another group member Amber read the sermon on her behalf.

Thank you so much for the SAL Group to share with us the beautiful hymns, the photos they took in Jordan and other part of the city in HK. Their sharing is moving and genuine. Although they are young, we as adult have so much to learn from them. There is a saying:  “The teacher comes when the student is ready”. Young people can be our teachers who inspire us to think and reflect on areas that we may have missed.

I am impressed by our young people’s qualities such as a thankful heart to openly express their appreciation to people who have helped them and supported them. Their generosity to share and helping each others in times of needs and difficulties is moving. Today, they are very courageous to stand before us to share songs and experiences. These are the things we have to learn from them.
 
As shared by Emmy, she quoted from 1 Timothy 4:12:  “You are young, but do not let anyone treat you as if you were not important. Be example to show the believers how they should live. Show them with your words, with the way you live, with your faith and your pure life.”

As encouraged by the scripture readings taken from James 1:22, “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers”. Today, we practice the words of God by having a member from the SAL Youth Group to share a short message for us. I would like to invite Emmy to come forward.

Thank you Emmy for her message that challenge us to put our faith of love especially to the needed, into practice.
The message shared by Emmy goes into the same theme of today’s gospel’s message.

In return, Jesus criticized them as hypocrites because they practiced human traditions, but not to live the spirit of the law -- to love and to do justice. Jesus used the parable of taking in food before washing hands that does not cause damage to oneself and others but it is something from inside that do more evil. His message reminds us the importance of motivation from our hearts. Our heart is source of everything. Good heart generates good deeds and vice versa.

While Jesus challenged the religious leaders, Emmy today challenges us to lead a Christian life by doing the right things requested by God. We should live with integrity and honesty. We should never pretend that we are good Christians without substance.

The second readings taken from the book of James says “religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to care for orphans and widows, in distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

Today, both the apostle of Jesus in the ancient church and our young little Emmy remind us the importance of caring for those are isolated, lonely and in distress.
I shared with what Emmy said, the source of loving and caring others is from God. This is the sacrificing love of Jesus Christ empowers us. This is the power of the suffering Christ on the cross that give us courage to stand firm without fear of being isolated and of being different from others.


Emmy challenges herself to leave her comfort zone to do the word and will of God by relating to a stranger and to give time to someone in need in the midst of busy life. How about you?
To me, I pledge to spend more time with the children and young people from our church. I always say it is important to develop our youth ministry. But I must confess that I do not spend much time with the children and the youth. I always thought it is not my area. But I am wrong. If I really take the children and young people as my own sons and daughters, I have no choice but to give them time. I do it not out of responsibility but love. Love of God and love from God.

I hope more friends from our congregation are willing to spend time with our young people and our children. It would be beautiful and wonderful if more sisters and brothers are called to give more of their time and talents to serve in the children and youth ministry. We all know time is precious and we are busy in different ways. To give for the sake of God and others is an invitation of God and from us today.
May God continue to guide us and bless us to lead a life in full and integrity. Amen.

Closing prayer:
God, we thank you for your gracious love dwell in us. Thank you for revealing to us your will and words in the young people today. Thank you for bringing these young people to us in here at Kowloon Union Church. They are all precious in yours creation. Help them God to grow in love and maturity in Christ. Help us God as leaders and tutors to guide them to learn and grow in God’s righteous way. Bless the youth group and lead them to become light and salt of the world, by sharing your love and grace to others, especially those who are poor, lonely and weak.
We pray in the name of our Lord and our friend Jesus Christ. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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