sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 27 December 2015, by the Rev.
Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 ; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52.
Living God, inspire us by your living word. Guide us to
listen by the Holy Spirit. May our life be transformed by the word of truth and
be more like Christ. Amen.
What inspired me to take up the topic of my sermon today is
my husband (Tong’s) experience of his encounter with God.
It happened years ago after our son was born. We were in
church for fellowship after worship service. Although Tong was not yet a
Christian at the time, he went with me to church. During the fellowship, he was
holding our young son who was lying on his laps. While we were singing, Tong
looked at his boy, all of a sudden he had a revelation. He saw the face of God
in his son - so lovely and tenderly
lying in his arm. He felt the presence of God. The spirit also led him to recognize
how blessed he had been all in his life. With this revelation of love through
the child, our son, Tong’s heart turned to God. He used to be a very rational
person believing in science. But eventually he decided to accept Jesus as his
saviour and became a Christian.
God revealed himself in a child. Christmas is a season we
celebrate the birth of Jesus. God entered into the earth in the form of human,
in the form of a baby who grew up through his childhood like every ordinary
Jesus came to the world in the form of a baby. Today, the
gospel reading that we heard is pointing to Jesus’ life stage as a teenager at
the age of 12. According to the Jewish tradition and culture, Jewish boys
became responsible for their actions at thirteen. Jesus was getting himself
ready to enter into a more mature stage.
God reveals himself through Jesus. How do we see God in Jesus
as a young boy? What are the insights that we may learn from today’s gospel
Tension – God allows tensions to exist
in intimate relationships
As an adolescent, we see how Jesus has tensions with his
parents. When his mother was complaining why he did this to her and his father,
Jesus’ response was a bit rude. He replied to them “Why were you searching for
me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
We see there are tensions in intimate relationships. God
allows tensions to exist in close relationships. Even our relationship with God
is sometimes tensed. We may complain to God for the hardship we encounter. We
may sometimes be angry with God’s absence and be disappointed by his
Therefore, when we are living in a close relationship that is
full of tensions, don’t be afraid to face it. By praying deeply in God, like
Jesus and Mary, we may be able to live with it with peace and be inspired to
know God’s will in depth.
The tension with our intimate beloved ones teaches us also to
be humble and to listen to each other attentively with understanding. And in
the end to find a peaceful way to address the tension.
God is mystery and great – as human being we may not fully
comprehend God’s will.
Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary were very faithful to God.
They obeyed God and did righteous things according to the will of God and the
Jewish religious law. But still, in their encountering with Jesus, who was
their son on earth and the Son of God in heaven, they did not fully understand
what had happened to them. They might not fully understand their son. But we
learned from Mary, Jesus’ mother. She was very calm and contemplative to keep
all this mystery in her with a prayerful heart. She tried to understand by
listening to God attentively. Mary
learned about God and experience God through her son Jesus.
God inspires young
Jesus in his young age, was already clear of the mission God
had given to him. He knew he must do the will of God.
All this indicated his close and intimate connection and
personal relationship to God. God with his own sovereignty, he can inspire a
young boy to do his will. Jesus and Samuel had both shown us this possibility.
We may easily accept that Jesus was the Son of God and thus
he was special. We praised him for his faith and his obedience to God. In our
own reality, we may not be so generous to our children. Adults are easy to
judge them as immature. Quite often adults do not have enough trust in children.
Children who have a pure heart could be close to God, close
to His will and desire.
We adult should listen to our children attentively and never
judge too early with our pre-conception.
Jesus in his young age challenged his parents in such a strong way. We may
then know our heavenly God Parent is
open and allow challenges from the youth and the little ones. There were a lot
of young people participating in the Umbrella Movement last year. Many young
people of this generation are very much concerned about Hong Kong and their
future. Their voices should be listened to and respected by adults especially
those in power.
Revive our inner Christ Child
Apart from listening to our children around us, we grown up adults
need to listen to the inner child within our own heart. Our heart is where God
We are all God’s children. When we receive and believe in
Jesus Christ, He will give us power to become children of God, born of God.
“To all who received him,
and who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were
born, not of blood or of the will of human flesh or of the will of man, but of
By contemplative prayer, we allow the Christ child within our heart to
revive. From there we will see God and know God deeper.
Our inner child which is closely connected with God is pure and full of
love. Some negative and traumatic human experiences in our growing up may have
damaged our inner child. Our relationship with ourselves, with others and with
God may be distorted. But God has given us a way out.
The good news is Jesus Christ has come to heal and restore us to
Jesus, the light of the world, came to give us the strength
and power to overcome evils. The divine God who breaks into humanity has
demonstrated to us the mystery of salvation and the profound transcendence of
God. In Jesus Christ, who is fully divine and fully human, empowered us to
resist evil and darkness. Jesus, the Life of eternity guides us to God for his
goodness and wholeness.
Baptism is a sign of grace given by Jesus Christ. Through baptism our
sins are forgiven and we are called to reconcile all relationships with God,
with others and with ourselves.
The New life in Christ --- Colossians 3:12-17
is a sign of transformation for the person who has decided to commit their life
and faith in Jesus Christ. That is why the newly baptised is called born again
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Everything
old has passed away. See, everything has become new! ” ( 2 Cor 5:17)
New Testament Reading today taken from Colossians 3:12-17, tells us very clearly what constitutes a new life in Christ.
God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a
complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven
you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourself with love, which
binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule
in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be
thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one
another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns,
and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything
in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
To summarize, a new life in Christ is
Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to
God the Father through him
The parents of the children play very significant roles to
nurture their children to live a life in Christ and be in the likeness of
Christ. Jesus’ parents -- Mary and Joseph , as well as the ancient Israelite religious
leader Samuel’s parents – Hannah and Elkanah are good models for Christian
parents to learn.
These parents were very faithful to God. They kept worship as
centre of their life and offer to God sacrifice with sincerity.
I encourage parents to bring their children to church to
worship and learn the word of God regularly. Of course, the baptised children
are also under the care of the church. It is the calling and responsibility of
the church ministers and lay church ministers to offer our quality service with
love to guide and nurture our children to walk in the way, truth and life of
Christ. We, the church community need to give good efforts and time to our
Today, we learn the face of God in Jesus as a child.
We learn the face of God in our children at home, in church
and in our society.
We learn the face of God in our own inner child.
Sisters and brothers, as we are inspired by the inner child
within us and children around us, I would also encourage each one of us here to
We who are called and given the power to be children of God, to
reveal God’s face of love and compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation, joy
and hope, justice and peace in our life and in our world. AMEN