A sermon preached at Kowloon
Union Church on Sunday 12 August 2018, by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture
readings that day were Psalm 130; Ephesians
4:25–5:2; John 6:35, 41–51.
Your Word is a lamp, a light on my path (Chanting)
Last week I joined the Pilgrimage of Trust and Reconciliation
in Hong Kong. This was an international meeting organized by Taizé Hong Kong. More than 1,500 participants,
mainly young people from all over the world, joined this pilgrimage to seek
God’s love, hope and unity. It was a wonderful and amazing experience. Today I
am glad a number of pilgrims are with us this morning, and I would like to
welcome them on behalf of the church.
Just now I chanted a Taizé song—Your
Word Is a Lamp, a Light on My Path—in Chinese at the beginning. You can tell my body and
spirit are still very much in a mood and mode of chanting and contemplating.
Today I would
like to adopt a different approach in delivering my sermon. I will try an
experiential approach that requires your active participation and attention.
declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes
to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be
thirsty’ ” (v. 35).
“I am the
living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will
live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the
world” (v. 51).
Jesus is the One that
God sent from heaven to give life. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus has
given his flesh to each one of us and to the world.
The message I
would like to share about The God Within is not going to be the spoken words
from my mouth. Rather, I wish you to experience through the breaking of bread.
Justine and myself will start by giving out the bread.
When the loaf of
bread reaches you, take a small piece from the loaf and pass the loaf to the person
next to you. When you give the small piece of bread to your neighbour, please
say these words: This is the bread of life.
After you receive
the piece of bread, please hold it in your hand. During this time, focus your
heart, mind and soul on the bread. You may touch the bread, smell it, look at
it attentively and feel it prayerfully. Meditate also on what is your
relationship with Jesus, the incarnated God who is fully present in this very
moment. I will instruct you to eat after everyone has received a piece of bread.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”
Let us together
share this bread, the bread of life in the broken body of Christ.
breaking of bread, chant “Eat this bread.”
Jesus Christ, Bread of Life, those who come to You
will not hunger.
Jesus Christ, Risen Lord, those who trust in You will
has received the piece of bread, I will then say,
let us eat the bread. You may close your eyes.
Chew the bread
slowly; let the bread go down slowly from your mouth to your esophagus and then to
As we eat the
bread, Jesus, the Bread of Life, is living within our body. In this way, the God
of eternity is living in us.
The God Within is
a truth we need to know and remember.
In a moment of silence,
let us experience The God Within—fully present in us in the here and now.
brothers, I invite you to listen and meditate on these words:
The truth of The
God Within helps us to transform and transcend our life.
The God Within
leads us to accept our true self and love ourselves as God’s beloved children
created in God’s holy image. (Silence)
The God Within strengthens
us to embrace our personal brokenness and the brokenness of the world.
In the breaking
of bread, our brokenness is healed, and we become whole in Christ. (Silence)
The God Within
empowers us to face death without fear. The bread of life that we have taken
will sustain our life and hope forever and ever. (Silence)
The God Within
calls us to live a life like Christ, to love and to serve the world by offering
and sacrifice to God. (Silence—bell)
Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, the God who lives within us and
the world, thank you; we praise you forever and ever! Amen.
A sermon preached at
Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 5 August 2018, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, by Justine Wong. The scripture
readings that day were Psalm 51:1–12 ; Ephesians 4:1–16 ; John 6:24–35.
Today’s Gospel reading continues the story we heard last
week about the feeding of the 5000. Remember – five loaves, two fish,
impossible maths? I wonder, if you had been one of those 5000, what would you have done after you witnessed that
miracle, not just with your eyes but with your stomach!
John 6, starting with v. 22 tells us
exactly what the 5000 did. They went looking for more miracles. When they
couldn’t find Jesus or the disciples, they got into their boats to chase after
When they found him, Jesus said something
interesting in v26:
truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw
signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do
not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for
eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."
Jesus is telling the crowd that they
have been looking for the wrong thing, because of the wrong motives. According
to v27, there are two types of food or bread. One that perishes, and one that
would endure for eternal life, and is given by the Son of Man. Verse 35 points
out that Jesus himself is the bread of life, whoever goes to Him will never be
hungry, and whoever believes in Jesus will never be thirsty.
Jesus is the bread of life, the
bread that would endure forever. So what do we need to do to get this bread of
life? In v27 Jesus already told the crowd that the Son of Man will give it to
them, but they didn’t understand.
While they are working for the food
that would perish, they also think that they need to work for the bread of life.
They asked, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus
addressed their stubbornness: "This is the work of God, that you believe
in him whom he has sent." Out of people’s expectation, Jesus didn’t ask
them to do a lot of good works or keep all the commandments. Just believe in
him whom God sent. But do you think the people really believe in Jesus?
No! Unbelief is a common theme in
the gospel according to John. In v30 people asked, "What sign are you
going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you
performing?” After knowing Jesus healed the sick and fed the five thousand,
people are still asking Jesus for a sign.
They couldn’t understand the signs that Jesus has already given them.
The people have their particular
“sign” in mind that they would like to see. They referred to the manna from the
wilderness as the bread from heaven. They may expect Jesus to do something like
Moses, sending bread from heaven, or lead them out of the oppressive political
environment. Remember, they tried to make Jesus as king, and that’s the reason
why Jesus left them in the first place.
People have their own agenda about
what Jesus should do, and they have their own motives when looking for Jesus.
Blinded with their own expectations, they cannot really see the signs that
Jesus was trying to show them. They were looking for the wrong thing, and
missed the main point. They did not truly believe in Jesus, because Jesus was
not how they expect or imagine.
How about ourselves? What are you looking
for today? Are we expecting God to show us signs according to our will, so
we can believe in Him? If we try to put God in a box, and bind up His works
with our own expectations, we may miss the signs He is already showing in our
Why are you in church today? Are we
here because of the food or fellowship? Are we here because of the pastors? Or
are we here because we are seeking to know Jesus Christ? We should not build
our faith upon something other than Jesus. If we come to worship God with our
own motives, we may not able to see God clearly. I am not saying that the other
things are not important, but Jesus should be our focus and first priority.
When I was a kid I used to ask my
parents if I can just eat candies, chips and other snacks instead of the proper
meal like rice and veggie. I guess some of us may have asked the same question,
or your kids may have asked you this as well. While snacks can be filling, it cannot replace
a proper meal, as it is not good to our health, or provide enough nutrition.
That’s why Jesus said He is the “bread of life”, but not the “snack of life”!
As adults we understand the
difference between snack and bread, and we know what is best for our kids.
However, from kids’ perspective, they may just think the adults are not serving
their best interests. Does this look like our relationship with God? We think
we know what is best for us, but only God knows what is truly good for us.
So, then, to get to the heart of the
Gospel lesson, what kind of bread are
you looking for today? Are you looking for a snack that just fills your
stomach, or are you looking for the bread of life, who gives us everlasting
hope and peace?
You may still wonder, so what does
it mean to believe in the bread of life? What does it mean to put our faith on
Jesus? While Jesus did not want to be the earthy king, the king that is full of
power and above everyone else, Jesus is leading us to another kingdom, the
kingdom of God. This kingdom is about justice, peace, mercy and love, and our
king is living out a humble life, denying Himself and be with the people, care
for them and show them how to love. Jesus
is our king, who is
also the bread of life, one that
would break himself for His people, and share what He has
To believe in the bread of life is
to trust that God is love, and He is always good to us, even if we don’t always
get what we want. We can also be assured that in God’s kingdom, we would not face our problems on our own. Our king never leaves us, He would rather
sacrifice Himself but not letting us suffer alone. Jesus is our hope and source
of peace, if we are willing to let Him take over the control.
For the movie Sunday two weeks ago,
we watched “The Shack”. The main character Mack goes to church every Sunday,
because of his wife. Mack’s faith was second-hand, so when a tragedy hit the
family, Mack lost his faith. He can only see his own pain and sorrow. After a
special incident, Mack finally realized God never left him and His daughter.
And God’s love and patience is beyond his imagination. Until Mack gave up
making his own judgement on everything, he then becomes a true believer of God,
who is able to live out the hope and love he experienced.
Life goes on and we often look for
different things at different stages of our lives. Jesus did not rebuke the
people who looked for Him because of food or other motives. But He pointed out
that while they think they are looking for what is good, and they think they
have the best agenda, Jesus can indeed offer them something better than they
can expect or imagine.
No matter what are you looking for
today, Jesus did not ask you to give it up completely. You just need to keep
your eyes and heart open, and not lose sight of God and His work in your lives.
As I prepared this sermon, God
placed this same question on my heart – what are you looking for? Why are you
in this church today? As a seminary student, I do have my own motives and
requirements to fulfill coming to this church. KUC is a very unique place, and
I chose my longest internship here, so that I can be exposed to a wide range of
ministries, and I also hope to resolve some of the concerns on my heart. After
more than nine months of learning and serving here, as my internship is coming
to a close next Sunday, I asked myself, what did I find? Am I only looking for
what I want to see here, or do I see what God wants me to see here?
KUC is the most diverse church I
have ever been. The church is not big, but we have a congregation from all walks
of life, different culture and background. Given our diversity, I can really
see what it said in Ephesians 4:2: with all humility and gentleness, with
patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to
maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
While it may not be as perfect as
what the verses described, I can see we tried to bear with one another in love,
and making effort to maintain unity. This is the beauty that I think God wants
me to see. While it is hard to just imagine what it means to be “Where are all
one” (the KUC motto), I can see all the different body parts come together as
one body in this church.
KUC is more than a place for my
internship. It has gradually become another home for me; a place to taste worldwide
cuisine, a place to learn what liturgy is all about; a place to response to
social issues, and more importantly, a place to care for the minorities and the
marginalized. KUC is the place I learned and experienced what ministry is all
about, it’s not only about meetings, activities or administration, it’s all
Talking about people, I need to
confess and ask for forgiveness that I didn’t spend enough time building deeper
relationship with you all. Firstly because I am not exactly an outgoing person,
second is that I am afraid that it would be hard to say goodbye to you all when
the time comes. I treasure my moments in KUC, not only because I find what I
want to look for here, but because God let me see His great love in action
beyond my expectation here in this community. I experienced the Kingdom of God here in KUC.
As we will once again take the bread
remember the bread of life is the “bread” we should first seek;
and may we
believe in Jesus in all occasions;
and may we
keep an open heart to see the signs that God put in our lives; and may we
continue to build and to be the body that shares Christ’s
love, peace, hope and joy, just as KUC always has been. Thanks again for having
me in this lovely community in the past nine months, may God bless you all.