Reflections...

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

“Unions of Joy”

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 17 January 2016,  the second Sunday after Epiphany, by Rune Nielsen. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 62:1-5, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11. 


Let us pray. Dear God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be found pleasing in your sight. Amen.

We know that Jesus performed many miracles: he healed the sick, enabled the lame to walk, gave sight to the blind, and brought the dead back to life. So when we look at Jesus’ first miracle, the turning of water into wine, it may seem rather mundane and insignificant by comparison. Was Jesus simply warming up his miracle-working powers by performing a small miracle? In today’s gospel reading, Jesus himself seems reluctant to change the water into wine. John 2 says that “When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’” But Mary doesn’t let Jesus pass up the opportunity to help out. Jesus’ mother “said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Despite the initial hesitation from Jesus and the seemingly small scope of the miracle, this miracle holds great meaning and importance that should not be overlooked. Wine is a symbol of celebration, joy, and thanksgiving. The turning of water into wine at a wedding, the celebration of the union of two people, reminds us of the importance of being in union with other people. Being in a union brings us happiness, and when we are in union with life, our community, and with God, we can find true happiness. 

It is indeed very noteworthy that this miracle took place at a wedding. As we well know, weddings are very expensive events. The average Hong Kong couple now spends over HK $300,000 on their wedding. That’s a lot of money to spend to provide an atmosphere of happiness. In the wedding Jesus attends in Cana, the wine has run out, which may be due to a lack of funds for the party. He transforms 150 gallons of water into wine. But Jesus’ miracle does more than fix a financial dilemma. It affirms Jesus’ bond with the church community by enabling the community at the wedding party to continue celebrating. Clearly Jesus values his union with the community.
 

Union with community/ other people:
Being in unity with a community is so important that God Himself is in a union with a community. The apostle Paul writes that Christ and the church community are in a special union that is like a marriage. Paul explains that Jesus loves the church like a spouse, for Jesus would give up anything for the sake of the church. Paul would certainly agree that a marriage is empty without Christ—empty like the water vessels before Jesus had them filled. I once attended a wedding where the presiding pastor gave a special piece of rope to the couple being married. The rope was a combination of three cords twisted together. Two cords represented the couple and the third one represented Christ. The pastor explained that all three cords are needed for a happy marriage.

As the scholar Charles L. Rice once wrote, “the deepening relationship of two people opens toward a greater awareness of the larger community and what it means to find a place of service to mankind.” In serving a spouse, we learn how a union is supposed to work, with mutual respect and caring between people, and we can expand that to our understanding of how Jesus cares for us. But marriages are not the only way people can have Christ in their lives. There are other kinds of unions we can have with others. People can have Christ in their lives as they build relationships of friendship. For every person, a happy life has three cords: the first is yourself, the second cord represents community with other people, and the third is Jesus Christ. 
One community we can be in union with is our church community. Today’s scripture reading says that Jesus used “six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification”—religious objects—to hold wine for a wedding. God wants us to be happy, and to share that happiness with others, as people share happiness at a wedding. One place we can share that happiness is at church. The church is a union of believers, and as a union we celebrate together. Sometimes we think of the church as a very solemn place, but God’s house is meant to be filled with joy. The church is the community of God’s house, and it is the community that celebrates the grace of God for all humanity and the sacrifice God made for us when his son died on the cross. As a community, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, we celebrate Holy Communion and we celebrate in worship. 
Union with God/ Jesus:
A second union we need in our lives is a union with God. Jesus’ presence at the wedding in today’s gospel passage shows us that God celebrates being in union with us. Isaiah 62:5 says “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” As the church and as individuals we should enjoy life with God, the holy spouse we have. Life is meant to be joyful, as at a wedding, and that is why at my own wedding the congregation sang “Joyful, joyful we adore thee.” At weddings we remember God who makes our unions with others possible, and that is a cause to rejoice.
 

When we are in union with God, we can find many miracles all around us. With appreciation for God’s work, we can see the world with new eyes. There are many small miracles of life to enjoy—a blooming flower, a smile on a friendly face. We can thank God for those things and share the moment with God, saying “God, look at this! How wonderful is your creation!” It may be easier to remember to pray when we are in trouble or experiencing a special time, but daily prayers can be about the ‘everyday’ things with thanks and praise for God. God can be like the person you talk to at the end of the day. Think of that time when you get home in the evening and talk to your roommate or spouse or call up a friend to talk about the interesting things that happened that day. We can do that with God, but as those things are happening to us. Communication is part of a happy union, whether we are in a union with a spouse or other people, or with God. 
We can also show our union with God through the act of communion. It is significant that Jesus’ first miracle takes place at a wedding banquet because one of the last actions of his lifetime also happens during a meal. At the last supper, Jesus instructed his disciples about how to commemorate being in union with him. We re-enact that event when we take communion, which is our symbolic act of eating Christ’s body as bread and drinking Christ’s blood as wine. The dictionary definition of ‘communion’ is “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on a mental or spiritual level.” We can ‘commune’ with Christ both by taking part in communion at church and by prayer. Like a wedding banquet, communion is a cause for joy to know that God wants us to taste fullness of life. 
Union with life:
Another kind of happy union we can have is a union with life. Christ died that we may have fullness of life. We ourselves may not witness the turning of water into wine, but there are ‘small miracles’ in our lives that hold great significance for us. These unite us with life as it is meant to be lived--joyfully. The miracle of a newborn baby is something precious that is cherished for a lifetime. Recently my older sister gave birth for the first time. As I looked at her baby over Skype I looked at the child as I had never looked at a baby before. It was miraculous to think that this beautiful little child was just beginning its life! There are other miracles we can find around us, such as the miracle of companionship, or the miracle of nature we see out in the countryside. These miracles may not be worldwide wonders, but for us personally they are great bringers of joy in our lives. 
A union with life treasures everyday moments. As the writer Carl Armerding states, the changing of water into wine is Jesus’ way of “using the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary.” The ordinary things in our lives are windows to the extraordinary work of God because they give us epiphanies. Right now we are in the season of Epiphany, the time after Jesus was presented to the Magi, the wise men. The dictionary definition of “epiphany” is “a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.” Certainly the wise men had an epiphany when they realized the special importance of the Christ child. Visiting a newborn child is a common thing to do—we are often eager to visit or see photos of friends and relatives’ new babies. But when the wise men prepared to see Jesus, they had a special realization that this child was God with us. A union with life is spent rejoicing in epiphanies.
Epiphanies bring us great joy.  When I saw my sister’s child for the first time over Skype, I had an epiphany. I realized exactly how precious her little child was. In the season of Epiphany ordinary things in the life of Jesus are transformed into the extraordinary. Jesus’ baptism with water—plain, ordinary water—revealed his glory as the son of God. In today’s gospel reading Jesus’ glory is reveled again in the transformation of water into wine at a wedding. This union with life reveals to us the epiphany that God wants us to be in union with God and with other people, and that is something to be happy about.
What these unions mean for our spirituality:
These three unions, unions with life, with community, and with God, bring Jesus’ transformation of water into wine to a personal level for us. We can ask ourselves, “Will I taste the wine Jesus transformed for me?” It seems like an easy choice—to enjoy the blessings of God or to not enjoy the blessings of God. But it gets more complicated than that. We want the happiness of a wedding to last every day of our lives, but we must understand what it is that we choose to be happy about. Furthermore, we need to see that what we can truly be happy about is not based on the material world we face, the material world which gives us good days and bad days. The most valuable thing we can be happy about is based on Jesus. 
The second necessary question we must ask ourselves is “Will I also taste the blood of Jesus, shed for me?” Jesus paid a price for us, a terrible price. When he suffered on the cross, he faced violence, humiliation, and great emotional distress. Likewise, we know that this world is filled with violence, fear, and injustice. How can we expect to be happy in a world like this? As the author Fuyumi Ono wrote, “A person is not truly happy because she is blessed. A person who is truly happy is happy because she has found happiness in her heart.” True happiness does not depend on miracles. True happiness is putting faith in the God who loves us, knowing that no matter what happens God is our Savior who restores us to full life. Being in union with God brings true happiness. 
Our unions with other people reflect our union with God. If we respect others as children of God and love them as ourselves, we form a bond with them that shows us how God values us. However, when we form unhealthy relationships with other people, we are pushing God out of our lives instead of inviting God in to share the wedding banquet with us. 
It is significant that it is during the third day of the wedding party that the water became wine, for Jesus arose on the third day after his death. On the day Jesus came back to life, sorrow was transformed into joy. We can be joyful in small things, small miracles and epiphanies, because we have true happiness from knowing that Jesus loves us and suffered for our sake. Jesus did all of that because he wants to be in a union with us. When we are in a union with God, with life, and with others, we experience the joy God meant for us to have. Miracles are signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. We know that the greatest joy is yet to come in the fulfillment of God’s kingdom, just as the best wine at the wedding was saved for last. Until God’s kingdom fully comes, we can face the pain of this world by living in union with others and being grateful for Jesus’ union with humanity. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, January 17, 2016

 

“Named and Claimed”

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 10 January 2016,  the first Sunday after Epiphany, by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 43:1-7; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22.


Opening prayer
Living God, may you speak to us and call our name again this day. Open our heart to receive your grace and claim our identity as your beloved children. May your Word renew our life and our faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Introduction – the importance of name
Our children recently asked Tong and I a question: why did we give our daughter an English name, Amber, but not for our son Pak Ho, who had the opportunity to choose his own English name, Daniel, when he went to study in England at the age of thirteen. They also asked for our reasons for choosing their Chinese names.

Pak Wei and Pak Ho are the Chinese names of our daughter and son respectively. As they have inherited Tong’s family name, I wish to have my family name be part of their first names  - Pak. The character Pak contains my surname Wong as a radical. For their second name we chose Wei and Ho respectively. The character Wei refers to the space in the sky and the character Ho refers to the sea that is wide and open. We wish them to grow up and become a person who is open-minded, embrace all things, prepared to accept differences and be inclusive. Their names reveal their relationship with parents and our expectations as their parents.

I found that in many cultures, the naming of a child convey significant meaning and relationship of this person to their parents and their ancestors.

Our name reflects who we are. Our name reflects also our identity. I remembered there was time when our son Pak Ho was unhappy in his secondary school. The reason was that in school he was always referred by his classmates and teachers as his sister’s brother. His own name was not fully recognized. He did not have his own identity. He was referred to as Amber’s brother all the time. Only until he left Hong Kong and entered into a new school in England, then he started to have his own identity. He has also created a new English name for himself – Daniel. With this new and independent identity, he became more confident and self-affirming.

Therefore, name and identity are inter-linked and are important to us human beings.  Our name reflects who we are and where we belong. Our name defines our identity. 

It perhaps explains why in baptism, there is a tradition to give the baptized a Christian name.

Gospel Message
The gospel account taken from Luke 3:15–17, 21–22 mentions  John’s understanding about baptism and highlights Jesus’ baptism.

According to the Jewish tradition, baptism has been a ritual of cleansing and purification as well as the repentance of sins. Repentance has been emphasized by John in his baptism for the people.  He uses the winnowing of wheat as an example to depict the heart of grain being separated from chaff. 

Jesus who has committed no sin does not need to repent or any kind of purification as such.

Jesus’ baptism enfolds to us a new perspective on the relationship with God through name and identity. Jesus’s name was given by his parents Mary and Joseph, meaning Immanuel - ‘God with us’.  In his baptism, Jesus’ identity as God’s son is revealed.  

The gospel account records that : “When Jesus had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son [child], the Beloved, with you I am well pleased’”. (3:21-22)  

In his baptism, Jesus is given a new identity as God’s son/child. Jesus who is called by the Heavenly God as beloved son has defined who he is and what his life will be. After his baptism, he begins his public ministry to fulfill God’s will. His total obedience to God eventually leads him to die on the cross. 

What does Jesus’ new identity as God’s son mean to us?
Jesus baptism reminds us that in our baptism God calls us by name and we are His beloved children. At the baptism sacrament, the minister poured water over the baptized and said, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is God of relations. This God of relations is  One God who is Mother of us all.

This proclamation has lasting significance because we are baptized in the name of God who is eternal, ever lasting and live in us with deep loving relationship.

The identity of being God’s beloved children, son and daughter is what we need to claim. This claim of being God’s beloved children sometimes however, is difficult for some people. There are people who could not fully accept their own names and their own identity in the first place?

My Chinese name is Mei Fung, meaning beautiful phoenix. It is a pretty name. Isn’t it? But I tell you I did not like it at all for over 40 years. Reason? One: when I was child, a classmate in school always teased me with my name and associated it with prostitution. Second, my name Mei Fung is very common. Many girls have this name so I don’t find it unique. I started to change when Amber our daughter said to me one day – Mei Fung is a good name. I asked her why. She said, if it is not good, why so many people used it. Because it is good and beautiful therefore parents picked it for their daughters. I admired her wisdom.   She has also changed my perception of my name. I started to like my name after this conversation.

I know there are friends like me. They don’t like their names. The reasons of course could be various. I know a friend who does not like her name because her name was given with her parent’s  expectation of having a son after her. The name to her means she was not wanted.  

The baptism of Jesus reminds us gently to go back to God and to claim this precious gift – our identity and our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Let us claim our name by receiving the love of God and affirm that we are God’s beloved children whom he favors. 

Therefore, our new identity as children of God that is affirmed in our baptism will never be taken away. If anyone thinks they are nobody, unloved and unaccepted by their family and by society because of their age, race, gender, broken marriage, illness, refugee status, low pay job, sexual orientation and gender identity, remember sisters and brothers, God takes them as precious children whom he deeply loves. We are who we are. We are intrinsically good. In our baptism, through Jesus Christ, God confirms our being, our nature and our relationship with him. 

Jesus’ mission and ours in the baptism?
Jesus affirms his identity as God’s beloved son in his baptism. With this new identity and empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit, he lived his life in full without fear of death. He bravely entered into a life full of suffering and pain. His death on the cross and his resurrection demonstrated his power to stand against darkness and evils on earth.   

Jesus in his last appearance on earth, he called his disciples by sending them to “go, make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)

Jesus offers us baptism as the way to enter into communion with God. He gives the disciples a pointer to live our lives as God’s beloved children.

The word “beloved” originates from be + loven, or to love. As God’s children, we are not only named as God’s dearly loved, we are also called to embody love, to demonstrate love to others.

Yet, we are not perfect: we make mistakes, and all of us behave unChristlike at times. Our baptisms are a reminder that we can start over again. Baptism is a symbol of God’s generous grace: we are given the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and begin anew.

The water, the sign of purification has cleansed our sins and made us new. The Holy Spirit that dwells upon us at the baptism has empowered us to change, to do justice and to love kindness.

This is the day in our church calendar when we celebrate Jesus’ baptism. It is the day we are encouraged to remember the role baptism has played in our own life. It is a day we are challenged to remember, along with Jesus, who we are in God, what is our name and what is our identity in God. Jesus’ baptism reminds us that God calls us by name and we are His beloved children. Affirmed with this identity and God’s love in us, we are empowered to participate in the rebuilding of God’s kingdom.


May the claiming of our own name and identity as God’s beloved children enfolded by the Holy Spirit through prayer renew our life and strengthen our faith. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, January 10, 2016

 

“The Word”

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 3 January 2016 by Paul Cooper. The scripture readings that day were Jeremiah 3:7-14; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:1-18


First of all, grace and peace to you all! If that's a good enough beginning for St Paul, it's good enough for me. It's great to be back at KUC for both Calli and I, with so many friends and so many good memories. But I don't just bring my own greetings; like St Paul, I bring greetings from brothers and sisters in Christ at our own home church; from St George's Church, Littleport. And should any of you be in the area, not far from Cambridge, please drop by and we'll make you welcome. We did try and lock Phyllis up in a Priest's Hole, but we let her out again!

Our Gospel reading this morning is very well-known, and it's likely that you've already heard it this Christmas – it's usually read on Christmas Morning. There's a story about the reading that depends on it being well-known! In the 17th century, King James the first of England and sixth of Scotland, the king who authorized the King James version of the Bible, was very hot on witchcraft. He passed laws against it, and even published a book about how to detect it. And he even sometimes heard witchcraft cases in person. Anyway, someone came before him claiming that a witch had afflicted him with an evil spirit so that he fell down in fits when the beginning of John's gospel – the reading we've just heard – was read. Well, they had to try it, and indeed, when “In the Beginning was the Word”  was read out loud, the person fell down in fits. But King James was a clever man! He then read out “Εν αρχῇ ῆν ὁ λογος”, and nothing happened. But what he'd read was the original Greek version of St John's Gospel! And he dismissed the case on the excellent grounds that he was sure the Devil understood Greek.

So, “In the beginning was the Word” is an extremely well-known passage. But it's also a very complicated passage, and although some of it is easy to understand there's a lot more in it. A lot of it hinges on “the Word”. In Greek, the language John wrote in, “Word” is “Logos”, and it means a lot more than the English word implies. Theologians sometimes call Jesus “the Logos”, to emphasize that calling Him “the Word” is not strong enough. You see, “Logos” implies not just a name, but the understanding that goes with it. My own science, Geology, is named after the Greek words “gaia” and “logos”, meaning something like “Words about the Earth”. Many other sciences are named the same way – anything that ends in “ology”, like zoology, cosmology, metorology and so on. So, “The Word” implies not merely a name, but also an understanding. And there's another strand – in many cultures, naming an object gives power over it. That's why in the book of Genesis, we read of Adam naming all the creatures. So, saying Jesus is the Word implies both that He is the power of Creation, and also that He totally understands Creation. “In the beginning was the Word” links up with the beginning of Genesis “In the beginning, God….” Jesus, the Word of God, is fully God, fully the agent of Creation. And yet we've just celebrated Christmas Day with nativity plays, and stories of a baby born in the poorest circumstances, in a stable alongside the animals. John's Gospel emphasizes that the baby whose birth we celebrated is also the One who was there at the beginning, and will be there at the end. Jesus, the baby, the child we heard about last week, the wandering preacher who said “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head”, the condemned man dying on the Cross, was also the Word that began everything. Something I saw on Facebook summed it up very well - “There are many babies who become kings, but only one King who became a baby!” But it goes beyond that, because Jesus being the Word implies much more than appears on the surface. You see, “before the beginning” is a difficult idea, and physicists and cosmologists would say it was meaningless – that time as well as space began at the “beginning” - we often speak of the “Big Bang” as the start of the whole Universe. Everything we know about the Universe says that it came into being at a single instant, a very long time ago. But before that instant, not only was there no Universe, but there was no time either. SO God, and especially the Word, the author of Creation, exists outside time and space. The Word is present equally throughout the whole of time and space. Perhaps St Paul had an insight into this when he quoted a Greek poet who said “For in him we live and move and have our being.” The Word, who was the agent of Creation, is not some distant God, seated on a cloud or a mountain top, but is the very element that we live in, just as a fish lives in water. We cannot escape God; God surrounds us. The Psalmist makes that very plain: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Today, we might add that even if we went to the furthest Galaxy, we would still be in the presence of God.

But this great God, the one who created, supports and fills the whole Universe, is also the one who came to live among us, born as a baby in that stable in Bethlehem. And He grew up, and lived and worked in Nazareth until He was called by God to start the ministry we read about in the Gospels. Last week we remembered that as a boy, He was aware that God was His father, and throughout His life, we are told that He had a constant relationship and dialogue with God – a dialogue only interrupted in those last moments on the Cross; the moments when in agony He cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”, taking our separation from God fully on Himself that we might be re-united with God.

So, we have an amazing picture of God, who is far greater and more wonderful than we are able to understand, humbling Himself to share our life on earth. In Jesus, God accepted all the limitations we exist under, and yet remained God. And yet, as John says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Even though Jesus was fully human, fully like each and every one of us, the glory of God was clearly seen in Him.

Well, thinking of the Glory of God and the amazing fact that for the love of each one of us, God humbled Himself to become a man is all very well, but where what does it teach us? Well, there are many things we can learn, not least that if God could humble Himself so greatly, then we too must be humble. But as a visitor here, I want to suggest something else. You see, looking out from this pulpit, I see a great variety of people. Men and women, people of different races and languages, rich and poor, young and old. St George's in Littleport does not offer quite so much variety! But even there, to celebrate Pentecost last year we read the Bible in many different languages, and managed at least 7 or 8 – Calli contributed Cantonese! I'm afraid we did cheat a bit – two of the languages were Greek and Hebrew, read by Bible scholars! I'm sure that this congregation could manage many more. But the motto of KUC “Where all are one” embodies a very great truth. You see, we are all part of the body of Christ, every single one of us, from the children baptised last week to the elders of the congregation. And the Body of Christ is universal; it is the visible presence of the Word that was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. You are one with the Christians in Littleport, just as you are one with everyone who claims Christ as Lord everywhere in the world. Just as the Word of God exists throughout space and time, everywhere and at every time, so too the Body of Christ – the body of the Word – is universal. Our human limitations mean that we don't see it, but the Church itself recognizes it. We have read the same readings here that will be used in a few hours time in Littleport, and those same readings will be used all round the word – the pattern of readings we use is used by many churches, not just this one. And similarly, we use the same prayers; the Anglican communion always has one prayer called the Collect that is the same everywhere. But we all use the Lord's prayer; we all use the ancient Creeds; we all worship the same God even though history and disagreements about church organization mean that we often form separate congregations. But we agree on far more important matters than those we disagree about!

We are all one in Christ, no matter what the colour of our skin or the language we speak. And we should never forget that unity. We know that right now other Christians in the Middle East, in Africa and no doubt other places are suffering for their faith; their suffering is our suffering, and we should pray for them, and seek, if possible, to relieve their suffering. Here in Hong Kong, we must always remember our unity with Christians near and far. Every church and congregation has strengths and weaknesses, and if we try and go it alone, we find that we cannot do much. St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12, compares us to a real body, and says “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?” All Christians EVERYWHERE are part of the Body of Christ, and we are ALL equally necessary to that Body. Just as the Word of God is one, so too the Body of Christ is one, and it is only human sinfulness that separates one part from another. Of course, different parts of the body are different; we have different purposes and different environments. But we all are part of the same whole, which is working towards the kingdom of God.

So, let us always remember that we are one in Christ, and seek to work in harmony with other Christians. Each part of the Body of Christ has its strengths and weaknesses; it is only in working in harmony that we can achieve the things that God wants us to do. I have recently been appointed as the Lay Chair of the committee overseeing our local group of Anglican churches in England; preparing this sermon has been a good reminder for me that churches need to work together to present the kingdom of God to those around us. And so too here in Hong Kong; we all need to work with our fellow Christians, and there are many things where one church's weakness can be met by another church's strength. Above all, let us remember that we are all part of the Body of Christ; when people look for Christ, what they see is us. We ARE the city on a hill, the lamp on a stand, and we cannot be hidden while our light lights the world. Each one of us must work together to be the Body of Christ, just as each church and congregation must also see it's own place in the body of Christ. St George's, Littleport and KUC may be separated by many thousands of miles, but we are united in the Body of Christ, just as we are united with churches nearer to us.

I'd like to end with words from a hymn, “The day thou gavest, Lord is ended”. It's an evening hymn, but the second and third verses express very well the idea of the universal body of Christ:

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.


AMEN!

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, January 03, 2016

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