Reflections...

Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  

“The Face of God in a Child”

A 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.


Opening prayer:
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.

Message
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 person.

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 account?

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 inaction. 

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’s mystery
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 people/children
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 lives.
 
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 God.” (John 1:12-13)

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 wholeness.

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

Baptism 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 Christian.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new! ” ( 2 Cor 5:17)

The New Testament Reading today taken from Colossians 3:12-17, tells us very clearly what constitutes a new life in Christ.

“As 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
-          Be compassionate
-          Be kind,
-          Be humble
-          Be meek
-          Be patience
-          Be forgiving
-          Be loving
-          Be thankful

Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Infant Baptism today

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 children.

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 do this:

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

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, December 27, 2015

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