preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 21 September 2014 for the
thanksgiving service of the 90th
anniversary of KUC by the Rev.
Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Exodus
–15, Philippians 1:21
–30 and John 17:11
The theme of the church’s
celebration to her 90th anniversary is “Where All Are One – Celebrating,
Praising and Serving”.
“Where all are one” has
been the motto of Kowloon Union Church for decades.
The biblical basis for the
church motto is taking from Gospel John 17. Jesus prayed for his disciples and
the faith community to be united with each another as One in Christ and be union
with God as One through Christ.
I would like to share a few
incidents in which I experienced ‘Where All Are One” in my ministry at Kowloon
Union Church in the past seven years.
Some years ago, a Muslim
man came to pray in the church. He used to take off his shoes and prayed bare
foot in the sanctuary and read the bible from the pew. One day, he asked me if
he should come to pray. I asked why he had this question. He said, “it seems
that I am offending your God as I am praying to my God and not your God
according to the bible I read from the pew.” I was a bit shocked and tried to
figure out what to say. Then I was inspired and I asked this man, “do you have
peace when you are praying in this sanctuary?” He said, “Yes pretty much. I
find peace while I am here.” I replied with a smile and said “Go ahead to pray
here. This is the House of God for everyone, who is seeking peace from the
loving God who is the Creator to us all.” Later he bought his Pakistan Christian
friend who was working in Hong Kong but was having some problem and we prayed
In one of the wedding
ceremony that I conducted, a groom burst into tears when he shared after the
Service. He was divorced and thus many churches refused to marry him in their
church sanctuary. He wanted a church wedding because he wanted to witness God’s
love and grace in his life and to pledge his commitment to his new marriage. He
had been rejected and felt very hurt. He was thankful that in the end he was
accepted and blessed by having his church wedding at KUC.
This spirit of Oneness
should be shared among all people regardless of their religion, marital
background, race, gender, sexual orientation and so on.
Being inclusive is thus a
key to walk in the journey of Oneness in Christ and acceptance is the essence
of “Where All Are One.”
A last incidence I share. I received an email from a member who disagreed
with what I have said in my sermon one Sunday. On and off, I received feedback
from the congregation on the approach and position I take on certain issues
such as refugee and homosexuality. We don’t necessarily share the same view and
the same way of doing things.
“Where All Are One” does
not imply we are the same. We have to admit we are different.
“Where All Are One” is to
challenge us in the midst of difference and opposition, we listen and speak
with respect. We agree to disagree is a phrase I learnt in KUC. It is indeed
very challenging to agree to disagree because quite often, we think we are
better and smarter than others. If we all admit that we are human beings and we
cannot always be right; that we make mistakes, big and small, in our lives. We
would then have more wisdom to handle differences and conflicts. We would also lead
a happier life.
KUC has been a very diverse
congregation. We have members and friends from over 20 countries of different
denominations, cultures, traditions, races, and nationalities. Diversity is
indeed a gift from God. The creative tensions in people’s differences may help
us to grow and enrich our lives. But we can benefit it only if we cherish
diversity and humbly embrace it.
To acknowledge diversity is
a gift from God and being humble is a key to walk in this journey of “Where All
“Where All Are One” is beautiful and admirable. But it
is never easy to practice. We should never romanticize this. Sinful human
nature and imperfect world make it difficult if not impossible. Perhaps that’s
why Jesus finds it so important to pray for his disciples and the Christian
community. The disciples and church in his time were facing tremendous
challenges. As we do also in our World and in many churches.
KUC, a church which is admired by many people for her
inclusivity and welcoming character, sometime we have our own problems and conflicts
within us. The world we are living in is full of conflicts too. Conflicts seem
to be part of our life realities. Feelings hurt and relationship broken if
people cannot resolve their conflicts constructively and peacefully.
If there is brokenness in relationship in church and
in the world, we would be far from being One. Therefore,
it is necessary to seek healing and reconciliation when we are
journeying in the road of “Where All Are One”.
Healing and reconciliation is the way the people from
a faith community have to go as we walk with Jesus as One Body in Christ.
As Christ’s disciples and church, we are called to
bring reconciliation. As I quote from 2 Cor 5:17-18, “So if everyone is in
Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see,
everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself
through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation....”
In a broken world, Oneness
is not easy to achieve. But Jesus Christ who prays for our union with each
other and with God has given us hope and strength.
I hope and pray that ‘Where
All Are One’ is not only a motto to KUC and should never be reduced
to a slogan. Let us together walk in the way of Jesus Christ and to suffer for
him as shared by Apostle Paul with the church in the Philippians.
“Where All Are One” …. is a spiritual journey, let us
be united in Christ, to learn and to grow, to love and to serve each other as forgiving,
humble and compassionate persons.
“Where All Are One”…. is a mission of every Christian
and church, let us manifest God’s glory by proclaiming Christ’s saving act, to
bring love, reconciliation, liberty, unity, and life of wholeness to all.
“Where All Are One” is a gift from God to everyone.
When our life manifest Christ’ glory like Jesus revealed God’s glory in his
suffering and sacrifice on the cross, we may be one with God and with one