Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church
Make the world peaceful again!
A sermon preached at Kowloon
Union Church on Sunday 27 November 2016, the First Sunday
in Advent, by the Rev. Phyllis
Wong. The scripture readings that day were Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44.
Gracious God, thank you for
your incarnated Word in Jesus who shared his divine life with us. May the
spirit inspire us to know you and be transformed by you. Amen.
The church is beautifully
decorated. Thanks to sisters and brothers who came over on Friday and Saturday
to do the cleaning and decorating. Thanks also to friends from UCCP (the Uniting
Church of Christ in the Philippines) and OBIC - One Body In Christ Church too
for their contribution yesterday. Thanks to pastor Maggie for coordinating the clean
Candles on the wreath,
Christmas tree and banners set in the sanctuary are visible signs for the
Season of Advent. A new church year has begun today!
I would like to share with you the worship space
decorations and their symbolic meaning
The light of the candles – it is an important symbol of the season. The
light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the
darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that
we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace
to others (Isaiah 42:6). The
progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of
our waiting experience – namely peace, hope, joy and love. As the candles are
lit over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and
hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more
light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the
worshippers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally,
the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle
is lit at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the hope and
promise of long ago have been realized.
Symbol 2 - the tree (Christmas tree)
tree is a real one. You may smell its freshness. The tree is a symbol of life.
God is the source of life. We give thanks to God for giving us eternal life and
Jesus Christ who came to restore our life and save the world.
The photos of KUC’s members and friends, past and the present have been hung up
on the tree. Photos of the people remind us - 1) We are all God’s beloved
children, beautifully and wonderfully created; we are fully human being and
spiritual being. 2) And yet we are all sinners and suffering from human
brokenness. God breaks into the world to share our humanity, reconcile
relationship and to make life whole through Christ. 3) God calls his people in
different generations to become Christ’s disciples, to walk in his way and to
witness God’s kingdom. 4) To love one another as Jesus Christ has commanded his
who are new to our church and who have not yet given us a photo, please give a
copy to us so that we can hang it up and you can be part of our community here
In the past
few years, I used to share with the congregation on the first Advent Sunday
through the bulletin or sermon about the meaning of Advent. This year I will share
The word “advent” derives from the Latin
word adventus meaning “coming” or “arrival”. As the
Latin translation of the Greek word parousia,
it is a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the Lord.
season of Advent serves as a dual reminder of the original waiting of the Hebrews for the
birth of their Messiah
(Jesus Christ), as well as the waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ by Christians today.
Advent signifies a
time of waiting for the coming of the Lord to save his creation from sins and
to restore life to all creatures.
So, what does it mean to
wait for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? What is the significance
of Advent to Christians in the contemporary world that we are living in?
Waiting in this time does not mean passively waiting
until we die without action and do nothing. We heard this morning the Epistles’
reading taken from Romans – the Apostle Paul gave to the early church
Christians a message of waking up from sleep –that is, waking up to a
spiritually awoken life. He asked the disciples to live a life that revealed the
Lord Jesus Christ who is the light of the world. In the light of Christ,
disciples are no longer living selfishly for their own desires. In them, there should be no quarreling and
jealousy, no reveling and drunkenness, no debauchery and licentiousness.
Paul gives us an important Advent message today –
we need to change and live a Godly life in Christ by carrying his light. We
live no more in the darkness but choose to live in the light and peace with God
and with one another.
The gospel reading taken from Matthew today gives us
the sense of urgency. Like the thief, the Lord is coming at an unexpected hour,
and therefore we must be ready. The
Advent message from Matthew is to stay awake, to take immediate and appropriate
actions before it is too late.
Immediately after Donald Trump won the presidential
election, there have been demonstrations in
different parts of the United States showing dissatisfaction with the results. There
are banners saying ‘Donald Trump does not represent me.’ A student from the
States I recently met in Hong Kong told me that when she is back to the States,
she will be active in the civil rights movements exerting pressure on Trump so
as to protect the rights of the minorities and immigrants.
I also heard from the news that there are Americans who have started to prepare plans to help the needy if
Donald Trump reverses policies in a way that may adversely affect them.
These actions reflect that there are Americans
not just waiting passively for a new president to assume leadership. They are
alert and taking actions to prevent a president going too far with his bad
records in discriminating against new immigrants, women and Muslims.
‘Make America great again’ is Donald Trump’s
election campaign slogan. But our world does not need any great nation. Our
world is in need of peace.
The passage from the Book of
Isaiah today has given us a vision of God’s peace. Peace in Hebrew is shalom, and in Arabic is salam, which share the same three root
letters S-L-M connoting wholeness, completeness, well-being and welfare.
Therefore, peace is more
than an absence of conflict. Peace is the presence of conditions that provide
Martin Luther King Jr. also echoes
loudly: “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.
Peace is more than just a word heard in songs; it is a deep longing for life,
for justice, for wholeness.
As we hear Isaiah’s bold
vision today, we are reminded of the importance of peace for the world. But we
at the same time need to realise that peace begins within us. The path to peace
is a journey, one that takes us inward into ourselves and outward towards
like Isaiah announce unexpected reversals.
I quote, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:5)
Just as war is learned, so
is peace. Isaiah proclaims that in God’s new world, not only must the weapons
be destroyed; they are to be transformed and repurposed.
All national and international
leaders should learn about peace and be transformed. All people in the world
should live a life of peace and transformation. All systems should be transformed
to bring peace and well beings to the community.
To echo the prophet Isaiah’s
vision in the season of Advent, a message that reminds us to prepare and wait
for the coming of the Lord and his salvation for all, I will pray and voice
loudly ‘Make the World peaceful again!’
I believe Jesus Christ, the
Prince of Peace who is incarnated amongst us will be delighted to see his
disciples and his church walking in the light for peace.
May this Christmas tree and
these photos of people - symbols of life and the solidarity of God’s people, and
the light of advent candle, lead us and guide us to walk in the path of peace.
Together let us make the world peaceful. Be still, let us make our inner world
A Servant King
A sermon preached at Kowloon
Union Church on Sunday 20 November 2016, the twenty-seventh Sunday
after Pentecost, by
the Rev. David Gill. The
scripture readings that day were Jeremiah 23:1-6, Colossians 1:11-20 and St Luke 23:33-43.
August 1939. Note the date
-- August 1939. Not a good month for the world.
Fascism was on the march.
Despots had ridden to power on promises to make their countries great. Voices
of hate were screaming their ugly message. Jewish people were being vilified
and persecuted. Some, attempting to escape, found themselves turned away from
The threat of violence
loomed everywhere. In this region, the Sino-Japanese War had been raging for
years. In Europe, the lights were going out and the Second World War would
erupt within days. Most of Asia and the Pacific would be drawn in. Before the
madness ended, 60 million people – mostly civilians – would die.
Ancient demons had been let
loose. Fear was pervasive. And people felt helpless. They could see what was
happening, yet nobody seemed able to stop it. Politicians, diplomats, even the League
of Nations itself, proved powerless. It must have been like watching a train
wreck in slow motion.
No, August 1939 was not a
good month at all.
But that same month, something
almost miraculous happened too. Something unprecedented, that was to have
That something was the First
World Conference of Christian Youth. One thousand five hundred young people
gathered in Amsterdam. They came from many countries, many languages, many races,
many Christian traditions, many … everything. But, with all their differences,
they were drawn together by one Christian faith. Must have looked a bit like
the congregation of KUC, on steroids!
Until the last minute,
organisers feared they might have to postpone because of world events. But the
conference went ahead, thank God. And those young people received a blessing, a
confidence, a vision, that inspired them and would serve to sustain them
through the tough years ahead.
Some would find themselves
serving in the armed forces, on one side or the other. Some wound up in Prisoner- of-war
(POW ) camps. Some became involved in resistance
movements. And at least one – Madeleine Barot, from France – became what today
we would call a people smuggler, leading Jewish asylum seekers across the
border from occupied France to neutral Switzerland.
And what was the theme of
that great youth gathering? What was the focus of bible study, thought and
prayer during those days? What was the conviction those young Christians would
take away with them into the testing times ahead? It was expressed in a Latin
phrase: Christus Victor. Christ the
Victor. Christ the conqueror of sin and death. Christ the Sovereign Lord of
All. Christ … the King.
So those young people found
themselves focused on a reality beyond the world’s madness, a sovereignty
beyond the world’s tyrannies. And they discovered they belonged to one great
family gathered by Christ the King.
At the close of the conference,
they sang an Easter hymn: Thine be the
glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.
A participant wrote later, “I have never heard Thine be the glory sung as it was sung that day. It was a cry Lord, have mercy. But it was also a
clear commitment to the faith that had brought us together and would hold us
Well, November 2016 is not
August 1939. There are, alas, some disconcerting similarities. But there are
The world has changed. The
threats and opportunities we face have changed. Yet two things have not
changed. Still this is a chaotic, sometimes scary world. And still we hear the
astonishing claim that, in the words of our second reading, God “has rescued us
from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved
Today we’ve come to the last
Sunday of the church’s year. Next Sunday the Advent wreath will come out of
storage. Christmas will be only four weeks ahead. So now we’re at the end of
Christians’ year of faith.
Through these past 52 weeks,
we’ve travelled a very long way. From the ancient yearnings of Advent to the joyful
news of Christmas, the dramatic discoveries of Epiphany, the soul-searching of
Lent, the grim realism of Holy Week, the explosive joy of Easter, the new life
of Pentecost, and onwards. So many stories, so many teachings. So many
questions, so much wondering!
Today, it all comes
together. Today we affirm the significance, for us, of the man who is at the
centre of that saga. Today, like those young people seventy-seven years ago, we
celebrate him as sovereign Lord of all. As Christ the King.
As those kids knew in 1939,
it is not an empty title, a relic of centuries past. This central claim of our
faith had far-reaching implications for them, two generations ago. It has equally
far-reaching implications for us, today.
The claim that Christ is
King liberates us, as it did them, from captivity to an unbearable status quo. It
tells us, as it told them, that no earthly tyrant has final authority. It opens
our eyes, like theirs, to a reality the world cannot see. It opens our hearts,
like theirs, to a hope the world cannot imagine. And it sets our feet, like
theirs, marching to the beat of a drum the world cannot hear.
But wait. What kind of king
Here things get complicated.
We’re talking about a man who was born in poverty, who was an asylum seeker in
infancy, who was condemned as a subversive, ridiculed as a fool, executed as a
criminal, accompanied in death by two thieves. A strange kind of king indeed. A
different kind of king, for sure.
Jesus of Nazareth was not
leading an armed insurrection. He was not competing directly with the power
brokers of his time. Yet he was not crucified just for uttering pious platitudes.
Something about that man shook the existing order to its foundations.
The divine love he embodied
challenged the status quo of his day. The cross on which he died, the cross at
the centre of this church, still challenges the status quo of ours.
That cross speaks louder
than all the voices of hate, all the cries of despair. For it speaks of something
stronger than hate, stronger than death itself. It speaks of an all-inclusive
compassion, a divine love which has no limits, no conditions, no exceptions.
Today’s gospel referred to
the two criminals who were Jesus’ companions in death. Some years ago, at an
Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia, one of the young stewards from
Sri Lanka was getting around wearing not one cross but two. Why, I asked him?
Surely one cross is enough. Why the double crosses? “I wear these for the two
criminals who were crucified with Jesus,” he told me. “I can really identify
with those guys!”
Christ’s compassion reached
out to the penitent thief. In the same way, it reaches out to you, to me, to
all the people of this city, this world.
Still it breaks down the
walls people build to insulate themselves from each other, to exercise power
over each other, to excuse themselves from caring about each other. Still it stands
in judgement over the identities – of race, gender, culture, even religion – to
which we give our loyalty and which all too often we treat as gods.
Christ the compassionate
King gives himself in love for others, all
others, whether they know it or not, whether they care about it or not,
whether they respond to it or not. We who acknowledge the reign of Christ are
called to do the same – give ourselves in costly love for others. In the world
at large and wherever we may be.
Including right here in Hong
Remember the days of SARS in
this city? It was a strange time. We were all getting around in those masks;
pressing lift buttons with elbows instead of fingers; making lots of room for
each other on the MTR; passing the peace in KUC with a bow instead of with a
It was a scary time. I
remember watching a TV interview with a young medical doctor who had worked in
the SARS wards of one of our hospitals. What baffled the interviewer was, the
doctor had actually asked to be sent to
the SARS wards. Why, he wanted to know? You knew you were risking your life.
Why did you ask for such a posting?
Her reply was riveting.
“Because,” she said, “I think that’s where Jesus would be”.
Christ the King. Not a ruler
remote from human suffering, but a man who is immersed in it. Not a dictator who
treats us as doormats, but a companion who calls us his friends. Not a solo
actor, but a team player who draws us into the action too. A servant
leader, who has himself paid the price of self-giving love, and invites us all to
sign up for God’s great revolution of inclusive compassion and amazing grace.
There’s the kind of
patriotism every one of us can support. The kind of revolution in which each every
one of us – even you, even me – can find a place.
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 13 October
2016, the twenty-six Sunday after Pentecost, by Rune Nielsen. The
scripture readings that day were Genesis 2:18-24; Galatians 3:23-29.
of this year a sixteen-year-old girl in Arkansas, USA, was walking through her
high school to leave the building after classes had ended. She lived in a small
town where she had grown up in a safe environment without fear of crime. It was
an ordinary day for her. She was thinking about homework and her plans to spend
time with friends on the weekend. Suddenly two boys appeared in the empty
hallway and grabbed her. They forced her against a wall and sexually assaulted
her. She became one of the millions of women worldwide who suffer from misogynistic
violence in their schools, workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods. In the case of
the girl from Arkansas, many people in the community posted on social media to
show their support for her.
One man in
her community tweeted: “As a man who has a daughter, a sister, and a mother, I
cannot approve of disrespect for women.” Many other men followed his example by
posting similar statements about their care for female relatives, and this
statement of support has also been given by several men responding to news
articles about sexual harassment, sexist discrimination, and human
recent case of sexual abuse of a mentally disabled woman in Hong Kong, many
reactions to the crime have been similar here. People are concerned for female
relatives as well as disabled loved ones.
against women is not just a ‘women’s issue’ for all people have a
responsibility and a role to play in supporting justice, aiding the abused,
promoting social awareness, and preventing future attacks. According to the UN,
worldwide an average of 35% of women experience sexually-motivated violence in
their lifetimes, and in some countries that amount is as large as 70%.
many myths still exist in societies all over the world which attempt to justify
mistreatment of women. One such disturbing viewpoint is that men are entitled
to sexually violate women because of men’s natural instinct for lust. This
mistaken belief removes the blame from perpetrators of sexual assault and
shames victims who seek justice. It is also insulting to men, for it suggests
that men have the same intelligence as animals, acting as uncivilized creatures
who cannot overcome their desires.
mistaken belief that a man’s desires are more important than a woman’s is
perhaps more common that we realize. A story from a female student studying
criminal justice recalls this harmful tendency. The teacher of her criminal
justice class told the students about a situation in which a crime had been
committed: A man asked a woman to date him, and she said no. Over several weeks
he asked her over and over again, but her answer was always no. Then one day
the man showed her a knife and threatened to kill the woman if she did not date
him. The woman called the police and the man was arrested. So, the teacher
asked his students: who committed the crime?
Most of the
boys in the class answered that the woman did, because she had rejected the man
several times. They saw her actions as the cause of the crime. When the teacher
pointed out that it was the man who broke the law, a male student said “But
that’s not fair—the man was just defending himself.” This statement shows that
the boy believed that for a woman to say no to a man was disrespectful to the
man. But that view denies women of their basic rights to choice and equal
myths about the inequality of men and women also come from mistaken religious
beliefs. Some Christians believe that all women should suffer for Eve’s sin in
the story of humanity’s fall. Although the Bible says in Genesis that the “man
shall rule over” the woman, the ultimate truth is that both men and women have
sinned and we are all in need of the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
In Galatians 3, Paul writes that “there is no longer male and female; for all
of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Christians, we strive towards making a more just world, to expand God’s kingdom
to make Heaven on earth. In Genesis we read that in Eden, the garden of
paradise, the man and woman were equal. Eden reflects the world as it ought to
be, as God wanted it to be, before humanity fell into sin. Biblical scholars
have noted from close study of the Hebrew text of Genesis that Adam, the first
person, is not described as male until after the creation of the woman Eve.
Male and female did not exist until God made the woman from Adam’s rib.
Humanity was a single person, a single entity without gender before Eve was
created. Our origin is not engendered.
first met Eve in the garden of Eden, he said: “bone of my bones and flesh of my
flesh.” Basically, it was as though he said, “Wow! This person is a lot like
me.” Although commonly used at weddings, this passage is also relevant to the
unity of the whole of humankind, not just the unity two people share in
marriage. It is about the origin of us all. But sadly, today many people only
focus on the differences between the two genders, not the similarities.
months ago in Hong Kong, a man was arrested for sexually assaulting his
domestic helper. After going on trial, he said “I apologize to my wife and
daughter, for I have hurt my family by this.” But he did not apologize to the
domestic helper, the woman he committed the crime against. He felt remorse for
negative consequences that affected his relatives, but not for those
consequences, such as emotional and psychological trauma, that hurt a person
outside of his family. He didn’t acknowledge a common humanity in the domestic
helper. Clearly, acting in the interest of loved ones is not enough. It’s time
that men and women see each other as members of the same group, as people with
a common identity based not in gender, ethnicity, or other differences, but in
their common humanity.
decide not to respect the humanity and dignity of people of the opposite gender
in their own families. … Statistics show that 90% of rape victims are assaulted
by people they know well. A woman who endured rape by her father as a child
described the feeling of abuse like this: “When it happened, I felt as though
my soul was being ripped open. The vulnerability made me feel as though my skin
had been removed and all of my internal organs were in plain view—everything
that was supposed to be private and stay inside me was being taken from me and
put on display. I was experiencing something worse than the things I had feared
most.” While it can be hard for someone who has not experienced abuse to
understand the suffering of those who have been victims, empathy is not
impossible. Both women and men feel vulnerability. This vulnerability can come
from many sources, whether gender, low social standing, criticism, prejudice,
disagreements, and so on. Each person has a choice of how to respond to their
feelings of vulnerability.
choose to abuse people of another gender are often insecure about themselves.
Men who feel that they are weaker or less powerful than other men tend to
compensate for their lack of power by dominating women. Men in positions of
power sometimes discriminate against women or hurt them because they are afraid
of losing their power over other people. These are cruel responses to feelings
response to vulnerability is not domination, fear, distrust, and abuse of ‘the
other’ but unity with others who are vulnerable, including those of another
gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Galatians lists categories of
people, all of them vulnerable to prejudice from the labels they are given by
society: In Christ “There is no longer Jew or Greek”—labels of ethnicity,
“there is no longer slave or free”—labels of social status, “there is no longer
male and female”—labels of gender; and we could add many more categories, such
as “In Christ there is no longer queer or straight, or abled or disabled…” When
Jesus looks at us, he does not see us as man or woman, he sees us simply as
this truth, many courageous men and women have supported the White Ribbon
Campaign, which advocates for gender equality. Founded by men dedicated to
spreading awareness of violence against women, the White Ribbon Campaign runs
workshops for teaching men and boys about identifying sexism and preventing
sexual violence. As the White Ribbon campaign reminds us, standing by
passively, not doing anything, while men harass women or speak about them
inappropriately, does as much harm as actively supporting the discriminating
not being selfish when we stand up for our rights—we are claiming the dignity
and respect we were meant to have, for we too were made in God’s image. In the
first chapter of Genesis God says “God created humankind in his image, male and
female he created them” and “God blessed them” both. Male and female come out
of one image, sharing the same essence. As a pastor once told me, “The
violation of any person’s body is a violation of God’s body because each person
bears God’s image. If anyone is raped, God is raped and God suffers for it.”
Sexual assault is a crime against humanity and a crime against God.
what it is like to be abused and vulnerable. Jesus Christ faced vulnerability
hanging on the cross. He was stripped almost naked, crucified painfully in
front of an angry crowd. Jesus died and went to the depths of hell, but that
did not stop him. He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. God’s Son has
lived out a process of pain, suffering, and finding new life. The pain of
victims can be transformed into strength and hope that makes them no longer
victims, but survivors.
we take a stance. When we realize our common humanity, our unified response to
sexual assault and discrimination of any gender will be “I am offended because
I am also a human being, and this is a crime against human beings and God who
made us all.”
Are you children of the resurrection?
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union
Church on Sunday 6 November 2016, the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that
day Luke 20:
resurrection, we come before you to hear your word. May your word heal and
liberate us. May the Spirit of truth set us free and transform our life to
become more like Christ. Amen.
Do you believe in resurrection? What is your
understanding on resurrection of the dead?
In the Apostles’ Creed, as universal church
and followers of Christ we affirm our faith by saying - I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy
catholic Church, the communion of saints,
forgiveness of sins, the
resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
our faith on “The resurrection of the
body and the life everlasting”. In today’s gospel reading taken from Luke,
it highlighted an important aspect of faith and theology on resurrection. The
topic is brought up by the Sadducees.
The Sadducees were one of the Jewish sects, tended to be rationalistic and by
and large wealthy. Unlike the Pharisees, they denied resurrection and did not
believe in resurrection at all.
They challenged Jesus on the belief of resurrection.
They brought up the Levirate marriage – an ancient and traditional Jewish
law as the centre of debate. According to this Levirate marriage law, a woman
cannot marry to another man outside the family if her husband died with no son.
Instead, the brother of the deceased has to marry the woman as a duty to his
late brother. The firstborn whom she bears shall succeed the name of the
deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. (You may refer to this ancient Law from the
Book of Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
The Sadducees in the gospel account asked Jesus a challenging but very
A woman married seven brothers without
children for any of them. When resurrection comes and all these dead husbands
and wife are restored their lives, whose wife is this woman be? Who does this
The motive of the Sadducees is not to seek the truth or showing a concern
to the woman and the seven brothers who may have to resolve this problem in
heaven when they all meet. The Sadducees’ question is to test Jesus and see how
he responds to such a question of dilemma.
Sadducees aim to give Jesus a difficult time, their question however is a very
good one worthy of our theological and faith reflection.
Christians today who married for more than once due to the passing of spouse or
divorce, they may encounter this problem and dilemma. I heard of a Christian
wife who married a widower asking his husband, “when we both die and go to
heaven meeting your former wife, who then will be your wife, I or she?”
Jesus’ reply is not only wise and sweet, but remarkably life transcending
Here I read again the text from Luke 20:34-36
Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in
20:35 but those who are considered worthy of a
place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are
given in marriage.
20:36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because
they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.
Wow… how liberating Jesus’ words are!
We human beings living on earth are constrained by human systems,
cultural norms, fixed belief and forms of relationships. But in a place of that
age (I‘m referring to heaven) where resurrection occurs, human beings are
confined no more by all these human made institutions, legalistic practice and
customs. Human beings are all free from the imperfect systems and contextual
social relationships on earth in resurrection. Life and relationship are no
more bounded by fixed laws and values.
The Sadducees who assumed that afterlife is like this life, and just
wanted to show their rationality and authority in the Law, may not be that
happy with Jesus’ answer on resurrection.
But I believe that Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees’ question at least has
given deep relief to the woman concerned. A woman who married for seven times
due to some male-centric law on earth probably does not want to be “owned” by
these seven men when she goes into another life. For women who are living in
low and disadvantage
position in an ancient Jewish community, being possession of men and their
families, with no autonomy and limited resources to choose their own lives, a
resurrected life that allows them to live freely without the traditional
baggage of needing husbands and marriage, could be a great liberation. If I were this woman, I would say aloud,
leave me alone! Let me go free!
I can see
also, Jesus’ assertion of no more marriage and marital relationships in the life
of resurrection could help also create
harmony and peace amongst the seven brothers. They don’t have to argue and
fight for their wife back. Jesus’ has sent a strong message of ‘letting go’ on
resurrection. There is no more control and possession of anything or anyone in
a resurrected life.
Jesus’ teaching on resurrection enlightens us to reflect on our life and
faith. Do we live with fixed belief, prejudice, pre-conception and straight
social norms in family, at work, in church and in society, that have limited
our own and others to live a loving and free life in God of the resurrection?
In the readings from Luke, Jesus also quoted that Moses, whom the
Sadducees and the Jews respected, had shown the reality of resurrection of the
dead when he spoke in the bush about “the
Lord as the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the
living; for to him all of them are alive." 20:37-38
Jesus’ further illustration on resurrection by referring to Moses of his
assertion of the God of Israelites speaks to their patriarchs and people of all
Jesus makes a very strong point - God, is not of the dead,
but of the living; for to him all of
them are alive.
It is not
the death that matter. It is the life of God and his eternal presence that
matter. It is the eternal God that makes everlasting love, salvation and
transformation all possible in different times and different places.
teaching on resurrection has given us new insight about afterlife. He also
gives to us imagination on life and relationship with God and with each other
in the present life. A resurrected self and community on earth is possible when
Christ with the living spirit lives in us.
I would like
to conclude my sermon by sharing this wonderful encounter I had in a church
parents were divorced and his father remarried to another woman. On the wedding
day, both her biological mother and step mother were present in the ceremony.
They were even sitting side by side on the front row together with the bride’s
father. I used to be sensitive to this kind of situation in order to avoid bad
feelings and embarrassment. When I spoke
to the bride’s biological mother, she was so relaxed and at ease to share with
me. She told me she has overcome her divorce. She said she has kept good
relationship with her daughter, her ex-husband and his second wife. She told me
that she is a Christian and thus she relates to them with love. She said they
are happy together.
I was impressed by the bride’s mother, a
sister in Christ.
divorced but she is not enslaved by her past. She refused to be victimized and
trapped by the traditional values on marriage. On the contrary, she allows
herself to move on to a new life and a new form of relationship with her
daughter, ex-husband and herself. She remains single but lives with
self-confidence and contentment .
she lives fully and alive with freedom and joy. I feel strongly Jesus’
resurrected life dwelled in her. To echo what Jesus said, ‘those who are considered worthy of a
place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are
given in marriage. Indeed they cannot
die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children
of the resurrection.’
Resurrection is to
listen to the word of Jesus and to live a life in Christ. Children of the
resurrection are to live a life of love, freedom, hope and creative imagination
of this life and the life after.
brothers, are you children of the resurrection, believing in the God of living?
bless you all to claim that identity and to live fully a resurrected life in
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Archived sermons by the Barksdales