A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 17 February 2013
by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Deuteronomy
26:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.
of light, enlighten our heart to receive your word. Open our eyes, oh God, to
see your vision and the Holy Spirit leads us to your truth. Amen.
I would like to begin by sharing a real story.
It is a story about two men who are pretty well known in Hong Kong. One of them is Mr Lin Yuet Tsang (練乙錚). Lin is a current affairs commentator and a former
member in the government Central Policy Unit.
When Lin was studying in secondary school and
was about to graduate, he
was struggling with his future. He had a strong
passion and desire
to study and continue his academic journey. And yet his family was too poor to support his education. He was very unhappy about it and
he shared his feeling with his school principal. After his sharing with his school principal, the Father of that Catholic School referred him to see an alumni of his school. This alumni gave to Lin an envelope when
he met him. Inside the envelope, there was a huge
amount of money that enabled Lin to go for further study abroad. Before Lin left the alumni’s office, he said to
him, “you don’t have to return the money to me. But in future if you know
someone in need of money, you may use this amount of money to help that person.”
This alumni is Martin Lee (李柱銘). Martin Lee is the former Chairman of the Democratic Party. Martin is
a veteran political leader fighting for democracy in HK. He
is a reputable barrister in the legal profession. In an interview, Martin was asked about this story as Lin wrote about it in his book. Martin shared with the interviewer that Mr Lin did not need to appreciate him. It was because he had been helped in
exactly the same way by a friend of his father. When he was in need of money to go for further study, this “uncle” gave him the money he needed. This “uncle”
spoke the same thing to him, “You don’t have to return the money to me. But in
future if you know someone in need of money, you may use this amount of money
to help that person.”
Both Mr Lin and Mr Martin Lee are two well known public figures who
have demonstrated their concerns to the society of Hong Kong, and have
contributed to the political and social development of Hong
A kind giving by a man has planted a good seed that carried on to the next generation. A generous giving has helped to nurture people with
conscience to serve the community and to give what has been given to those who
are in need of help.
have entered into the Lent season since last Ash Wednesday. Today is the first
Sunday of Lent.
is a season to offer Christians a chance to reflect on our faith. It is a time
to remind us of the need to repent and refocus our lives in God.
A life of giving is a key area for us to reflect today. We are also
challenged by putting this Christian core faith into practice in the season of
Lent. (In our congregation, an encouragement to the congregation to prepare an
almsgiving box and put the money in for charity purpose is a concrete action in
Prayer, fasting and meditating on the word of God are inner spiritual practices
of an individual and the faith community to nurture our spirit and to deepen
our faith in God. All these spiritual practices aim to help us be more
connected to God. Our God, is a God of love and life giving. God is fully
manifested in Jesus Christ.
Lent reminds us the suffering, sacrifice and death of Jesus. He died on
the cross in great pain. His identification with those who are suffering in
pain has led his followers, the Christians and Church to remember and be
concerned with the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.
In the Old Testament reading today, it is an old story retold once and
again in the Jewish community that they are God’s chosen people. God who is
their savior redeem them from slavery and free them from the bondage and
oppression in Egypt.
God of the Israelites takes them to a land with milk and honey. Because of
God’s kind and gracious giving to the Jews, they are committed to the
relationship with God by following the commandment given to them by God. The
Jews are called to give with thanksgiving. They are demanded to return some
portions of their gifts to God and share them with foreigners, orphans and
widows. These people are representation of the vulnerable, weak and
marginalized in the society.
This is the reason for many churches to designate the 1st
Sunday in Lent Social Concerns Sunday.
The basis of social concern is a compassionate heart for others and a
sense of justice to people who are not treated with dignity and equality.
At the beginning of the Lent season, Christ’s disciples are reminded that
we are human beings connected to each other in God. Because of this connection
with each other, and God’s gracious gifts to us through our ancestors and the
death of Jesus who gave his life out of love, we are called to love by leading
a life of giving.
We love because God first loves us. We give because God first gives to
us. The commandment given to the Jews reminds them and us everything is from
Truly, it is not easy to lead a life of giving in the world we are
living today. Like Jesus, we have been tempted in many different ways. We have
been put into different kinds of tests. Our personal needs, our pride, our
suspicion towards others, our desire and greed for power, influence and status,
may be the barriers that make us keep things for ourselves instead of giving to
The good news from the word of God today is Jesus Christ has set an
example for us that we may overcome the temptation before us. Let us learn from
Jesus by focusing our live in God. By reading and putting the word of God
deeply in our heart, by taking full responsibility of our own acts without
blaming God of inaction, by trusting in God that in all circumstances God will
be there to lead us on when we turn to God.
The life of giving is a spiritual practice.
From Martin Lee and Lin Yuet Tsang’s story, we see how the generous act
of giving may impact on other people and bring goodness to a community.
Very truly both Martin Lee and his uncle have done a very good job in
nurturing a caring and supportive world. Their act of generous giving has given
great encouragement to us. How about then Jesus’ sacrifice of his life in order
to save our lives and the whole world?
Shall we all receive this gift with gratitude and share this gift with
I would like to conclude my sermon by highlighting the way we should try
out when we travel in Lent:
The way in Lent we travel with Christ is
Not what we can take,
but what we can give.
The way in Lent we travel with Christ is
Not what we can
possess, but what we can share.
The way in Lent we travel with Christ is
Not what we can
acquire, but what we can contribute.
The way in Lent we travel with Christ is
Not what we can secure,
but what we can give up.
Dear God, lead us to have a meaningful
Lent. May our faith be deepened, and our life be transformed by you. Help us to
live a life more like Christ that may bear fruits to the world and bring glory
to you. Amen.
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 10 February 2013
by Roy Njuabe. The scripture readings that day was Luke 9:28-43.
Let us pray: O Lord, open
our eyes to see your presence, open our ears to hear your voice, open our
hearts to receive your love. Help us to hear and to receive you in Words that
our mouths may proclaim your praise. Amen.
you once have
an experience where you are at an amazing event and someone is preaching on a very interesting
topic and you are so sleepy that you can`t control yourself. You tried to open
your eyes but you can`t. You were really drunk at sleep. But when you wake up
from your slumber, the event was almost at the end and you noticed that the
atmosphere was really excited and people were curious about what they saw or
heard. At that moment you did try to
get a glimpse of what had happened.
You turn around and ask some friends: what happened, what did he talk about?
You did your best to capture a moment which may help you join the crowd.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus took Peter, John and
James and went up to the mountain. As he was praying, amazing things happens; his
face became as bright as flashing of lightning, Moses and Elijah appeared in
glorious splendour, talking with Jesus about his departure. However Peter, John
and James were very asleep. The bible said VERY SLEEPY. When I read
this text, I wonder why these guys were sleepy, was it because they were so
tired after walking all the way to the top of the mountain? Or were they hungry?
With the entire amazing thing happening around them; flashing of lightning,
Jesus’ face shining; these three men Peter, John and
James were VERY SLEEPY. Wow
If I may ask you today: what can make you fall asleep when you are in the
presence of God in fellowship with one another; is it tiredness, or the prayer
is too long, or the sermon is too long and boring, (this sermon is very short
so please don`t fall asleep) or may be
someone is saying something which is irrelevant to you or let’s say you are too busy that your mind is away from
what is happening around you.
At one point you may wake up from your slumber,
you’ve missed all the interesting part of the event or speech. Now, you are
trying your best to get an idea of what had happen; sometimes it is not too late, but sometimes may be too late
when the event is over and the guest speakers are leaving.
Peter, John and James, at the mountain top
experience were very sleepy, they couldn’t capture in
full what was going on, but when they became FULLY awake, they saw His glory
and two men standing with Jesus. But it was almost toward the end of the whole
event, and the guest speakers Moses and Elijah were leaving. In Luke 9: 33 it
says “as the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to Jesus “master, it is good
for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters- one for you, one
for Moses and one for Elijah. (Peter did not know what he was saying).
I love Peter in such situation, he is always very
smart. When he woke up from sleep and saw the last
part of the event, he immediately knew that something amazing had happen and
his mind was like, how can I comprehend what just happened? May be keep the guest speakers to stay for one
more night so that I may spend some time with them knowing what really
happened. Well, as I mention, at times it may be too late, the guest speakers
When we are in the presence of God in fellowship
with one another but not fully present, we may miss out important point and
when the whole event is over and we didn’t fully
comprehend what happen, yet we struggle to draw our conclusion or think of the
best way to save the result, which at times may be different from the view of
those who were listening.
We may have similar struggles with our faith, we
struggle with our faith, we sleep in our faiths, we are trying to see Jesus in
different situation; this Jesus that I knew yesterday, today he is different,
he answered my prayer yesterday but today I had no reply from Him. The disciples may be wondering; this Jesus who came up this
mountain with a normal face, but now his face is shining. We may wonder, why
our heart is so veiled from God`s word, we can’t understand.
However, in our slumber, in our confusion, God’s glory will never be hidden from us.
Peter while in his confused state of mind to build
three tents, God speaks to them “This is my son, my
one, listen to Him”. The bible emphasized, “When he spoke these words Jesus was ALONE”.
Wow, the disciples may wonder
that the whole event that happened, which they missed from the
start was directed to one man, Jesus Christ.
We may miss the direction in our lives but we can
never miss the voice of God, God will always reveal himself to us. However we
may be stubborn to listen or follow his way. God’s glory can
never be hidden from us.
According to some theologians;
Elijah brought us prophesies
According to this event, the law and prophesies are
gone but Grace stays.
Jesus ALONE at the end of the experience, God said
“This is my son; listen to Him”.
It is not by law, it is not by
prophesies, it is Grace alone that we are set free, set free from our
unbelieves, set free from our slumber, set free from our sinful nature. It is all
by Grace through this one person Jesus Christ.
The grace flows from the mountain top to the
The next day when Jesus and the disciples came down
from the mountain top, the bible said a great crowd met him and a man in the
crowd cried out to the Lord, in verse 38 “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son;
he is my only child, suddenly unclean spirits are troubling him; but your
disciples cannot do the job well to cast out the unclean spirit. Jesus
answered, “you faithless and perverse
generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring the son
here…. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit healed the boy and gave him back to his
It was by Grace that this boy was healed; that the
unclean spirit could leave this boy. This boy was set free from the unclean
spirit by God`s Grace.
We are set free from all our unclean actions by
God`s grace alone, not by our works.
But remember this, if there is one thing you may
remember from this sermon, remember this, it takes faith to do God’s work. Whether small or big faith, it takes faith
to do God’s work. Some people may view Pastoring as something
too simple, it is not. In pasturing, you need faith. You may encounter very difficult
situations, situations that are beyond your understanding. What you need is
faith, faith in God, knowing that it is God in action, not you. So act boldly.
In 2 Corinthians 3:12, it says “since we have such hope, (hope in Jesus) we act
with great boldness”.
Therefore Paul said “Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this
ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one
hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by
the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of
everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is
veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing”.
God’s glory can never be hidden,
however it can be hidden from those who veiled their heart. Amen