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.
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!”
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!”
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.
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.”
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
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 Gospel Mark 7: 1-17, Jesus was
challenged by the phrisees and the scribes, the Jewish religious leaders of his
time because his disciples did not follow fully
the ancient Jewish law by washing their hands before eating.
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.
- James 1:22, “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers”.
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.
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.