Reflections...

Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church  
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 6 August 2017 by Timothy Chan. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 17, Matthew 14:1321.


Let’s pray, Loving God, may the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight. May your word inspire and transform us. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Today we read the story of Jesus feeding the crowd with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Before this miracle, Jesus received a very bad news, his very good friend John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod. After hearing the news, Jesus got into a boat, and grieved for his friend. However, soon enough, Jesus was engaged with the crowd and continued his healing work. Last week, as many of you may know, our friend Surraya has passed away because of heart failure, and in the same week, our friend Esther has given birth to their fourth baby girl. God takes and God gives. Good things happen, so do bad things. We may choose to linger in sadness or happiness, to linger in the past or your fantasy, but God wants us to open our eyes and see what is really happening right now, right here. Are you thinking of what to eat later for lunch? Or are you fully present in the house of God now?
To participate in a miracle, first of all, you have to be there! Be present! Last week, around 30 kids came to our church and joined the summer holiday club, they were singing songs, playing games, making handcrafts and listening to stories. They enjoyed it very much! During the story time, the helper would be busy, because the kids would crawl around and whisper to each other, and we have to shssh.. here and there, while the storytellers were trying hard to catch their attention. By the end of the summer program, maybe some of them would have no idea what they have learned! We, as adult, might be no better. Are we present when we are sitting here in church? Your presence reflects your attitude, and reflects how much you desire God. To be present means you are engaging yourself with the event, to experience and realize the presence of God in our life.
When I was studying Christian Counselling in the seminary, the professor said the goal of Christian counselling is not trying to cure people with our counselling technique, but to let the client to realize the presence of God in the midst of their suffering. We are not healer, you and I, but our presence can lead people to know God, the ultimate healer. What we can do might be so little, but our presence can be a channel for God’s love. To be present also shows our willingness to work with God. Jesus could have healed the sick and feed the people all by himself, but he chose to feed this big crowd with the disciples, God and his people, working together. Christian faith is not all about signs and wonders, supernatural phenomenon and mystic experience, but also about being visible to testify the love of the God to the world in our daily life. Therefore, we have to be present and to be ready to work with God.
To participate in a miracle, we have to be there! And, you also need to accept the challenge! In the Gospel reading today, the disciples saw the need, but they don’t want to deal with it. In verse 15:
14:15 When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
The disciples suggested Jesus to send them away, they realized the difficult situation they were facing. The dark is approaching, there are around 10 thousand people in a deserted place, with no food. They checked with what they have, maybe a few hundred dollars, and a few chapattis, it is definitely not enough for this big crowd. So they surrender, waving a white flag, saying no, it’s a mission impossible, let us send them away, let the people take care of themselves! Imagine if Jesus listen to them and send them away, there will be no miracle. Most of the time, we think we are so seasoned and experienced, that we know what is possible and what is not possible for God. Eventually, we become the one who limit what God can do, we become the one who close the door for God. We don’t want to try, because we are also scared of failure and disappointment. We don’t want to take the responsibility! And to be honest, it is not always comfortable to ask God to intervene in our lives, because we want our lives in our way, not His way.
I still remember a pastor told me this: “Do not trust your ability to follow God, but to trust God’s ability to guide you and lead you.” Are we up for the challenge today? Are we ready to work with God to achieve our goal and dream? And to overcome our fear and let go of the past? We all know there are things that we wanted to change, but we never do anything about it. However, together with God, we can bring change to our life, to our family, to our community and to the world. Because Jesus said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Many times, we say the same things as the disciples, send the problem away! But God would say “Let’s do it together!”
Remember friend, we participate in God’s work and miracle, but we are not the one who orders God to perform miracle for us. Let me share with you one of my most embarrassing testimonies.
About 15 years ago, I became a Christian, I was so committed in the beginning, believing in every word the mentor said about their experience. One of the mentor said she heard a testimony, a short-sighted lady was healed by God and her vision is fully restored! Woah! Then I started to pray for my eyes every night, hoping that the next morning, I would wake up with a perfect vision. Obviously, it did not happen. And I talked to this mentor again, she told me to have more faith, saying if I am keeping my glasses, which means I still have doubt, and not determined enough! OKAY! I went home and praise God, then I remove my glasses, together with my backup glasses, I put my hand out of the window, with another hand on my eyes. I said a little prayer, God please heal my eyes! I have full faith in You! then I drop my glasses out of the window, and I slowly open my eyes. Nothing happen. Well, that was when I understand what the Lord’s prayer means by “May your will be done”, not mine.
To participate in a miracle, you need to be present, you need to accept the challenge and of course, to participate! The disciples see the problem, they see the hungry 10 thousand people, and they suggested Jesus to send them away. But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” Friends, it is easy to see problems, they are everywhere, we do realize this projector is down for a few weeks, believe me. It is always easy to criticize and comment too, but it is difficult for people to really do something to change what they see. Jesus did not discuss any strategy with them, complaining about the limitation, Jesus simply asks them to give the crowd something to eat. I remember after the umbrella movement in 2014, many new churches are founded, because more and more Christians are not happy with the political stance of their own churches. I was “lucky” to attend a few services of one of the new founded churches. 50% of the sermon is actually criticizing other churches and the other half is criticizing the government. Friends, we can talk about our problem ALL day long, but unless we decided to make a change and really do something about it, we would be complaining the same problem again and again. We see many needs in the world, but we never think that we are the one who should respond to them, we think we should let other people to do it, because they are better than us, we are just nothing.
The disciples look at the what they have, 5 loaves and 2 fish, small and insignificant, and they said to Jesus “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” They think these are nothing. But last week Hope was reminding us Small is Powerful, less is more! I have no idea how 5 loaves and 2 fish can feed 10 thousand people, some scholars said Jesus toyed with the natural law once again and multiplied the food, and some scholars said Jesus inspired everyone there to share what they have with one another. I am not a scholar, but one thing I am sure, is that, this nothing “5 loaves and 2 fish” are used to feed the hungry crowd and there are twelve baskets of broken pieces left. The disciples never thought that the story would end like this. They wanted to send the people away, but the next moment, they participated in this miracle to feed the crowd. Let’s read one more time the story:
19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 

Friends, I am not sure what you are going through now. Maybe you are one of the hungry people in the story, needing a miracle. Or maybe you are one of the disciples, needing a breakthrough. Be reminded that God cares for us and He is with us. The motive of this miracle is compassion. Jesus could continue to grieve for the loss of John the Baptist, but He chose to be present, seeing and responding to the needs of the people. We, as followers of God, are called to do the same. Shall we accept this challenge? To see the need of the world? and start to believe that we can actually make a different with small act, because we are not relying on our own strength, but Jesus, who loves us so much that he died for us. May we realize the presence of God in our lives, and be ready to participate in a miracle. Amen.  

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, August 06, 2017

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