A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 9 June 2013 by
Roy Njuabe. The scripture readings that day were 1 Kings 21:1–10 and Luke
Let us pray: In difficult time in our lives we hear your words, in joyful
moments we hear your words, Lord open our ears that we may hear and our hearts
that we may believe and our hands that we may do. May the words of my mouth and
the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you O Lord. Amen
When the doors of your life seems closed down, when your life seems
desecrated, when you have no hope for the future, when everything in your life
seems moving towards the wrong direction, the question you will often asked
yourself is, what have I done to deserve all this bad luck, or in other words,
why me? At some scenario you may blame yourselves concluding that may be you
are the cause of your misfortune or as some Christians may put it “all these
hardship in your life is because of your sin”. In 1 king Chapter 21 we read a
story about a widow and her son in a difficult situation. When her situation
deteriorated and her son died, she quickly link her son`s death to her sin as
she said to Elijah, “have you come here
oh man of God to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
The gate to our future may be closed, what we want to become is not what
we are today, our dreams and hopes seems blare and we are entangled in all
kinds of worries.
Sometime we simply ignore the closed gate and climb over the gate or a
take a short cut into our future, but at times we work hard to open the gate so
that we may walk straight into our dreams.
However to open this gate may be the toughest thing in our lives. More to
that we don`t even know what is on the other side of the gate. It might be a
blessing or it might be another huddle.
It was in 2006 when I once in my life thought there was nothing calls
hope at all, that the gate to my future was completely shot down. At that time
there was nothing more than just a single voice which keeps telling me day after
day after day after day that “Roy
your life is useless, you have no future just turn into an alcoholic and forget
about life”. The society rejected us, discrimination was our breakfast and the
water we drink was a cup of hate, as every morning when we wake up from sleep
what we can see are people who will let you know that you are not welcome here.
The media vandalized our image so that the society may regard us as those
people against them. At that time there was little or no voice speaking for us or
in other words speak in favor of asylum seekers and refugees.
My life, our lives were like people living in a jungle at the middle of a
I often asked myself many questions? One of the question was “What have
we done to be treated as such”.
Just a few questions for you to think about!
Have you ever once in your life live in a situation where you lost all
hope, nobody even dare to tell you there is hope in life and that your last
hope is to wait for the day you will die.
Have you ever look at someone with compassion and imagine that the person
have all the reason to live life in it fullness and set it is well with you his
or her soul and give him or her another reason to be believed that there is hope?
The widow whom the gospel of Luke talks about was in a horrible
situation, her only source of hope is gone, the source of her well being is
dead, she is left with nothing but a dead body to be buried.
To be a widow during ancient time was like living a miserable life.
Widows had no right in the society; they were rejected by the very society that
celebrated their wedding. Some of them were accused of being the course of dead
of their husbands. Members of the society criticized them and treated them as
slaves who can only eat when the masters are full. However a widow with a son
somehow is treated with a bit of respect.
Gospel Luke chapter 7 pointed out a widow whose son is dead, her only
hope survival. She was on her way to bury her son and the Luke told us that the
crowd was with her, may be sympathizing with her or laughing at her. The widow`s
life was desolate and she was all alone in her family. But her encounter with
Jesus at the gate turns her life around. Luke told us that Jesus looked at her
with compassion and said to her “woman don`t cry”. What an amazing comfort from
our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is always there for us, in pains and in joy, in
peace and in war, He had compassion for His people, He journeys with them even
in the wilderness of their lives. When you experience hardship in your life and
you feel the bottom line has drop out, you thought it is finished, that there
is nothing left call hope, remember that God is still with you and until He
said it is finished, know that it is not yet over.
The widow thought it was over, but Jesus proof to her that it wasn`t over
yet, Jesus reached out His hands and touched the bier and said to the son raise
up. He took the son and gave him to his mother.
Have you lost hope in your struggle for a better future?
Have you lost hope because your child is not the best in class?
Have you lost hope because your child couldn’t be the doctor or the
lawyer, the bank manager, the director you wanted him or her to be?
Have you lost hope for your asylum claim or your claim against torture
(CAT)? Have you lost hope of waiting resettlement to a third country as a
refugee? Know today that there is still hope, know that Jesus is at the gate
waiting, he is waiting to revive your dream and rekindle your desire, to bring
back that lost hope and let you dream again. There is hope in Christ Jesus.
It has been for long that I once lost such hope, that I thought it was
over, but today I stand here to testify of that, the hope is real, that when
Jesus said it is not yet finish, know that it is not yet the end of your
Today I stand here to testify that whenever you are rejected by people,
know that your dreams, your future is still there because only God can say NO
to your destiny. People can reject you, but they cannot reject your destiny
because your destiny is under God`s Lordship.
Today I stand here to testify that there is the rekindle of lost hope and
dreams whenever we encounter Jesus because he had compassion for us. He took
care of us holistically, not only our spiritual life but also our physical
As a graduate from Lutheran seminary I stand here today testifying of the
Goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nobody can understand the ordeal of life I went through, but the joy to
life was when I walked in the light of Christ, when I realized the compassion
of Jesus Christ.
The life of a
refugee is a life of someone who had nothing left but his own body, whose dignity has being taken away.
How about you
today, what hope have you lost? Are you looking for your
lost dream, are you on the procession going to burry your only hope? You don`t
have to because Christ is with you because He had compassion for you.
You can't find
hope alone, someone need to be there to rekindle
your hope. In Luke gospel chapter 7, Jesus gave the widow
bright new smile, In 1 King chapter 21 Prophet Elijah gave the widow
new reason to say truly you are a man of God.
People can take away your smile, but they can`t
take away your destiny and your dream.
Trouble, pains, worries may over take your peace, but Jesus will restore
once lost my hope and my dream, but Jesus revive me and brought me back on
track and told me it is well
with your soul.
When I was young I told my mother about my dream to become a pastor. She ridiculed me and
told me never to think of such dream because pastors are poor people. She
wanted me to become a doctor like my elder sister or an engineer like my elder
brother. At my teenage age with no right to control my dream, I followed the
dream of my mother. I studied animal biology at the university. I became a
veterinarian, took care of animals, yet my job gave me no happiness. When I
left my country and moved to Hong Kong, I
faced an ordeal of life. When I thought it was over, that my hope and dreams
are like a shadow, Jesus appeared to me through people like you, through
churches like KUC, proving to me that though society may reject you because of
your difficulties, I am with you. Jesus was at the gate of my life, He called
me into His ministry, he brought back the lost dream and vision, and He
rekindles my desire to become the person He intended me to be.
I took formal theological
training at Lutheran Theological seminary Hong Kong
and today I am a graduate with a big mission ahead of me.
When I started my studies,
I called my mother and told her about my decision to study theology, she felt
so sad not because of my decision but because she felt guilty of being an
obstacle to my dream and vision, she felt sad because she gave me her dream,
not what God wanted me to be. However, I told her away from such guilt because
it is God who decides when and how it will happen.
He allowed the son of the widow to die first before
he brought him back to life. Know that God can use any means to rekindle your
desire and give you a new reason to be happy again.
Do not forget
that in God there is still hope. Sometime you may feel that your dream is like a shadow far away as you struggle
in life, but know that God who planted the dream in you will
bring it back to reality.
Troubles and difficulties may knock at your door, the gate to your future
may be closed, you may ask question to challenge your existence: “what I have
done”? But be aware that it is not yet over until God said it is over. Storms
and hardship may overwhelm your ambitions but know that it is well with your
soul because Jesus had compassion for you, He is at the gate waiting to revive
your dream. Amen
Let`s end today`s sermon with this
beautiful hymn “when Peace Like a river”
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 2 June 2013,
Environment Sunday, by the Rev. Judy Chan. The scripture readings that day were
Genesis 1:27-31, Psalm
8 and Colossians
Each year on the 1st Sunday of June, Christians around
the world celebrate Environment Sunday. It’s the Sunday closest to the United Nations’
World Environment Day on June 5th. I am happy to deliver the sermon
today because I know that Kowloon Union Church is a church that takes creation
care very seriously. I am also happy to be preaching on Environment Sunday because
it’s one of the special Sundays of Hong Kong Christian Council. We have a group
called Christians for Eco-Concern, and I’m often part of a team that drafts the
Environment Sunday sermon. So when Rev Phyllis asked me to preach today, I was
grateful for a chance to see if our sermon really works in a church!
The theme of this year’s Environment Sunday is “Reflecting God’s
Beauty in Our Living.” The idea came out a campaign our eco-concern committee
hopes to carry out in the coming year. We were aiming to do something big to
capture the attention of the whole Hong Kong
community. Our original idea was a campaign against bottled water – we called
it something like ‘Against Destructive Consumption: Stop Drinking Bottled Water’.
Well, the HKCC board was interested to support us. But they wisely advised
three things: one, start with the Christian community, two, expand beyond just
bottled water, and three, make the focus more positive. So our committee
followed their advice and we came up with a new working title “Reflecting God’s
Beauty in Our Living.” The project details are still in process, and the title
may change a bit, but for today, I stick to our theme of beauty.
Hans Lutz tells a story about Hong Kong
children who were asked to draw a picture of something beautiful. Can you guess
what most of them drew? Pictures of nature – flowers, birds, oceans, rainbows. That
makes me think that there must be something innate in our DNA that connects
with beauty in the natural environment, even in urban Hong
This appreciation for beauty seems to be universal, which shouldn’t
be surprising if we believe that it’s God who created the beauty all around us.
Remember what God said after finishing creation? In Genesis 1:31, it says: “God
saw everything that he had made, and, indeed, it was very good.” Yes, God created a world that not only can sustain life,
it’s an environment that’s harmonious and self-renewing and beautiful. And God
has given humans the ability to appreciate the beauty that’s in the world.
I had a new appreciation for this beauty when I found out that many
of the design principles used in art can be found in nature. Two of the most
important principles in creating beauty are scale
What do we mean? Scale.
Here’s a picture of a piece of jewelry. It’s a crystal necklace. Can
you see the shape? It’s diamond shaped, and not just one, but a whole series of
diamond shapes that make a lovely design that’s pleasing to the eye. This
design is called a fractal. That means it’s a geometric shape repeated on many
Well, fractals can be found in nature too. Look at this fern. Can
you see how each leaflet is the same shape as the blade; and each blade is the
same shape as the branch? And it’s not only in ferns. You’ll find fractals
everywhere in nature– in clouds and mountains, coastlines, trees,
vegetables, and even in the structure of our lungs and circulatory
systems. There is probably some scientific reason why fractals exist, but
certainly, they add beauty to our world. Without them, our environment would be
very boring and bland.
Besides scale, beauty also requires proportion. There is one famous proportion called the Golden mean. The
ancient Greeks used this proportion in their art and architecture. To illustrate:
this is a photo of the Parthenon. You see the red lines make rectangles
based on the golden mean. The ratio of height to width is 1 to 1.6. So, if you have
a rectangle 1 metre tall, it needs to be 1.6 metres wide. If it’s 100 metres
tall, it needs to be 160 metres wide. This is the proportion that is most attractive to the human eye, so many designers incorporate the golden mean into their
We can find the golden mean already though in nature and the
One of the most visible are our teeth. Our two front teeth
form a golden rectangle. And the tooth next to those form another golden
rectangle. So when you’re making dentures or false teeth, the proportion must
be that golden mean in order to look natural.
We can also see the golden mean in the spacing of leaves, the
coloring of birds and the stripes on an animal’s tail.
So beauty in God’s handiwork can be seen all over the universe. God
set the standard for beauty and shared that sense of beauty with humanity so we
too could enjoy the world that He made.
Yet, all this beauty in nature has an even greater purpose than our
enjoyment. It’s been said that beauty is a window through which we see God. Beauty
draws us to Him and teaches us about Him. Fr. Peter Cameron says:
Beauty…reveals to us that
there is something more to the world than the beautiful thing itself. It leads
to…wondering where the beauty came from. It would be impossible for a human
being who has just received a bouquet of flowers to not reach into the flowers
to find a card. The beauty of the flowers moves us to wonder about the sender.
Then, when we know who sent them, we enjoy them all the more. Every act of
beauty does the same to us. It moves us to find the author and the reason.
You hear this sense of wonder and awe about beauty in the Psalms:
Psalm 8: “When I look at
your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have
established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that
you care for them?”
Psalm 19: “The heavens are telling the
glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth
speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are
there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the
earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
Psalm 104: “O Lord,
how manifold are your works! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of
you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the
Christians throughout the ages have continued to recognize how the
beauty of creation bears witness to the glory of God.
St Augustine in the 4th century said: “Question the beauty of the
earth, the beauty of the sea, the beauty of the sky… the visible things that
are ruled, the invisible things that rule them; question all these. They will
answer you: ‘Behold and see, we are beautiful.’ Their beauty is their
confession to God. Who made these beautiful changing things, if not the one who
is beautiful and changeth not?” (St.
Rev Maltie Babcock in the 19th century expressed the same
sentiment in his famous poem, “This is My Father’s World”. Babcock lived in
upstate New York in the U.S. He loved
to go hiking in the area with its beautiful farms and orchards. When he would
go on these walks, he told his wife, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world.”
Babcock suffered from depression, so being out in nature may have given him a
measure of joy and peace. Hear the words of the first verse:
This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round
me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world;
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of
skies and seas;
His hand the wonders
In the 21st century, we may have less opportunity or
interest in “going out to see my Father’s world”. We spend much of our time indoors.
Even some days, when air pollution is severe, the government warns the public
to avoid prolonged stays at the roadsides with heavy traffic or surrounded by
tall buildings. But that’s where most of Hong Kong
people live, work, play and go to school!
So instead of enjoying God’s beauty in the natural world, we seek
pleasure in others places, like the material world with the latest gadget or
designer clothes or beauty product. These fancy goods might be well-designed
and beautiful in their own way. Maybe they even have fractals or the golden
mean. But there are some basic differences between the beauty of a gorgeous
sunset and the beauty of the latest smart phone. The sunset is created to be
enjoyed by everyone, while the newest phone is created to be enjoyed by a
select group. A sunset instills a sense of wonder and gratitude, while the
latest phone instills a sense of pride for those who own it, and envy for those
who don’t. A sunset addresses the longing of our souls for beauty in and out of
this world. That cool phone? It’s meant to create an insatiable desire to
consume more and more on earth to feel like we’re in heaven.
G.K. Chesterton said: “There are two ways to get enough. One is to
continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” He makes a
good point, but accumulating more and more doesn’t work. No matter how much we
accumulate, it may never be ‘enough’ in a culture that manufactures desires to
distort the yearnings of our heart. Desiring less is certainly a better strategy than
accumulating more, once our basic needs have been met. But the best way to get
‘enough’ is to understand what it is we should really desire, what it is we
truly lack. For most people in Hong Kong, we
don’t lack for clothes or gadgets or beauty products. What we lack are clear
skies, fresh air, open spaces, a healthy food supply, a clean harbor – in other
words, God’s natural beauty in our daily lives.
So what can we do? Firstly, we need to open our eyes and arms to
receive that beautiful bouquet called nature that’s delivered every day to
every address on earth. That bouquet may not be as lovely as in the past due to
our folly and neglect. But creation will not be silenced or ignored.
Secondly, we need to open the card so we can find out who is the
sender and say thank you to God. We can say thank you in
worship for the beauty of the earth and the glory of the skies. We can say thank
you by repairing the damage that’s been done to God’s good creation. And then,
we can thank you through faith in His son Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn over all creation as it says in Colossians 1:15.
Truly we are in need of faith, because on our own, we cannot save
the planet. On our own, we are not courageous or powerful enough to battle the
powers of sin and evil that are bent on destroying this earth and those who
dwell upon it. Yet, if we believe that in Christ that everything on earth and
in heaven has been reconciled with God, we will never lose hope (Col.1:19-20).
We are not alone in the fight to restore creation. As Maltie Babcock
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done.
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heaven be one.
Let us remember then that restoring creation is ultimately God’s own
work in our time, in which God comes both to judge and to restore. Our calling
as Christians is simply to reflect and protect God’s beauty in our daily living and life choices through
the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
O Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! May we join all
creation in proclaiming Your beauty and love which we can see every day in
nature all around us. We thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, the
firstborn of creation, who reconciles us to You, our neighbor and the created
world through His precious blood. May the beauty of Your Word in Scripture
guide us and the beauty of the body of Christ strengthen us that Your will be
done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.