Reflections...

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

Those Who Go Ahead of Us

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 28 October 2018, the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost, by Peter Youngblood. The scripture readings that day were Job 42:1–6 , 10–17 ; Hebrews 7:23–28  Mark 10:46–52.


As we heard in the children’s sermon, this is a very important week in our Christian faith. Wednesday is Reformation Day, when Protestant communities will mark the 501st anniversary of the nailing of the 95 Theses on the doors of that Church in Wittenburg, Germany. This started the process that eventually divided European Christianity into two main groups: Catholic and Protestant.

But Luther never intended to leave the Catholic Church—he just wanted to change it. In his 95 Theses he listed what he believed were mistakes or abuses by Catholic clergy. Particularly, he had a problem with the selling of indulgences. These were basically bits of paper—like certificates—that were supposed to reduce the amount of time a person had to spend in Purgatory. You probably already know that for Catholics, Purgatory is the place where some (probably even most) people go to be cleansed of their sins. It is basically Heaven’s “waiting room”. It reminds me of the hospitals in Hong Kong, where you have to get a number like “B237”, and then wait for that number to be called. So basically, if you bought an indulgence, when you died you would get a lower number, and that meant you could get to heaven more quickly. Needless to say, Luther had a big problem with this.

Now today, over 500 years since the Reformation, many churches tend to emphasize Christian unity. KUC has a Protestant heritage, but we present ourselves as an ecumenical community. All are welcome to come and worship with us, and all are welcome to our communion table. But the Reformation had a lasting effect, and as a result there are clear differences between us and Catholic communities. You probably already know that Martin Luther helped develop the Protestant understanding of what we call the “doctrine of justification.” This doctrine is meant to explain how we, as sinful human beings, are redeemed in the eyes of God. In Luther’s understanding, we are justified—or saved—by faith alone, not by our good works. Jesus Christ is our salvation. There is nothing that we do ourselves—whether it be hard work, or following all the rules, or being charitable—that can save us. We cannot buy our way into heaven. We certainly can’t pay the local clergy for a special certificate that says we can go to the front of the queue in Purgatory.  Just as it was Bartimeus’ faith that gave him sight, it is our faith and our faith alone that can heal and save us. The good thing about all this is that it also means that we don’t have to worry too much about making our situation even worse. We, like all other human beings, are already sinful, and there is not much we can do to make ourselves more sinful. We are already at the very bottom of the pit, and only God can bring us to the surface. But this also means that no matter what, God will not abandon us. Looking back on our Old Testament reading for today, it was not Job’s own sins that caused him so much misfortune—misfortune just happens. But because of his persistent faith in God, Job’s wealth and his family is ultimately restored to him. Through Christ Jesus, salvation has been opened up to all, and this salvation is fairly and evenly distributed, regardless of what sins we may have committed.

But by focusing solely on the Reformation belief in the power of faith, we have lost some of the traditions that we once shared with other Christians. For the Reformers, if something wasn’t clearly mentioned or discussed in the Gospel, or if something seemed contrary to the doctrine of justification by faith, then in their eyes it became unnecessary (or worse it became idolatrous). As a result, our practice of faith has been simplified and shrunken. Out of the seven sacraments important to Catholics, Protestants really only recognize two of them—baptism and communion. Catholics also emphasize the importance of venerating the Saints. Here I mean “Saints” with the capital “S”, by which I am referring those very holy Christians who did something truly special, like die for their faith. Like St. Valentine or St. (Mother) Theresa. Protestants talk about these Saints on occasion, but with far less reverence; rarely do we recognize the special days or feasts dedicated to their memory, or expect miracles from them. More significantly, Protestant tradition does not believe in Purgatory. Instead we have a pretty simplified understand of the afterlife. You either go to heaven—the good place—or the bad place. And honestly we don’t like to talk too much about the bad place (I’d like to think nobody really goes there). Because of this maybe we feel there is far less need to pray for the souls of the dead. Catholics, on the other hand, do pray that those stuck in Purgatory may be finally admitted into heaven.

Ironically (and probably intentionally) the day Luther nailed his 95 Theses up was actually a very important day in the Christian tradition called All Hallow’s Eve, better known to us as Halloween. If you remember, Luther had a big problem with indulgences—the idea that people could buy their way into heaven or buy their loved ones way into heaven. So, it’s fitting that Luther would criticize the way people think about the afterlife, on a day when people have already started to think about the afterlife! Halloween is a time when we confront those things that scare us the most. And one of the things that scare us the most is death. Not just the act of dying, but the thought of what happens after we die.

Now the very next day—November 1st –is All Saints Day, the time of the year where we remember those in our community that have died. But “Allhallowtide”, the whole holiday that includes Halloween and All Saints Day, is celebrated differently by Catholics and Protestants.  As a Methodist growing up, we usually recognized this holiday by reading the names of those who have died over the past year, but that’s about it. I honestly don’t remember much about All Saint’s Day or All Saints Sunday. Instead, I was always far more excited about putting on my Spider-Man costume and going trick-or-treating on Halloween.

But for Catholics the celebration of Allhallowtide is more complex and arguably more important. You first have Halloween, the day before All Saints, which probably began as a Pagan holiday. Then of course you have All Saints Day, and that is the day you remember those have reached heaven. But the very the next day is All Souls Day, and this the day you remember and pray for those who have died, but have not yet reached heaven: here again, we are talking about Purgatory. We are talking about the waiting room. In Mexico, a predominantly Catholic country, they have the Dia De Muertos, or “Day of the Dead” on November 2nd.  Some of you have probably seen the movie “Coco.” Don’t worry, if you haven’t I won’t spoil it for you. In the movie, you get to see what I think is a good interpretation of Purgatory. The dead lead lives very similar to what they had one Earth. This can be both comforting and frightening. It would be nice to think that, after we die, we can still do all the things we used to do. On the other hand, if our lives weren’t so great on Earth—if we were “outcasts” like in the Disney Song we just heard—that probably wouldn’t be so fun. Even in Purgatory, we have to survive difficult world. What’s more scary is that the dead in that movie rely on the living to remember them, and this is what sustains them. If their living relatives forget about them, they just disappear. It’s scary, but it is also meaningful.  There is this everlasting connection between the living and the dead in Mexican-Catholic culture that we don’t have the Protestant tradition.

Now having said all this about Reformation Day and All Saints day, I don’t mean to suggest that Catholics don’t believe in the doctrine of justification (they do). Nor do I mean to say that Protestants never remember the dead. I think we think quite a bit about those who have died. When we lose a loved one, it is heartbreaking and it can take a long time for us grieve. But in some ways we also quickly sever our connection with the dead. We stop our communication with those who have gone before us. When someone dies, we hold a short funeral and that is sort of the end of the relationship. We are sad, but this sadness has little to do with the actual person that we’ve lost. What we mourn, what we are sad about, is the loss of the connection, something that is part of ourselves. Whether it be sadness, anger or peace, what we feel has less to do with the person who died than with our own pain. It’s actually a very selfish feeling, but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong about it.

We could say the same thing about faith. We are encouraged to concentrate on how God’s grace works our own lives, and to mind how the law is written on our own hearts. What others do is up to them. What’s more important is that I am a faithful Christian. But the doctrine of justification doesn’t mean that we don’t care about our choices and our actions. Nor does it mean we are not to care how these choices and actions affect others. Quite to the contrary, through our faith we receive God’s Spirit, and because we receive the Spirit we are able to live more compassionate and less selfish lives. It is through God’s grace we are able to do good works and to support each other and our community. I think KUC community is a good example of how this kind of grace works. Unfortunately, for too many Christians, it has become more important to think and behave self-centeredly when it comes to faith. We only think: Is my faith strong enough? Is my heart pure enough? Will I go to heaven? By doing this we lose sight of how our individual choices and actions relate to those around us.

And here I am referring not just to the living, but also to the dead. Too often we think that, after someone dies, and after we have had their funeral, our relationship with them is over for the most part. But I think we still have a continuing spiritual relationship with the dead. More than that, I think we have an obligation to them. What we do can affect those who went ahead of us, just as they can still touch us in our lives.

But after the Reformation we lost this kind of spirituality. We are focused on our own, living faith, and disconnected from those who went before us. As a result, we don’t think enough about our continuing relationships with deceased family and friends. Fortunately, this spirituality is something we can re-learn. We can relearn it not just Catholics and their prayers for the dead veneration of the Saints. We can also learn it from Chinese culture! In Hong Kong, the spiritual bond between the living and the dead is just as strong as between living persons. To give you an example, the Wednesday before last was the Chung Yeung festival, a time when Chinese families visit the graves of their ancestors. As with many other cultures, it is common to leave flowers out of respect, but in Hong Kong people will do a lot more. They will leave fruits for the dead to eat in the afterlife, or even burn money made out of joss paper for them to spend. There are rituals to ward away bad spirits, and prayers to free the souls of deceased loved ones from Hell. People pray to receive their ancestors’ blessings and some believe that the dead can grant wishes or bring good (or bad) luck.

As Protestants, we don’t really believe in this transactional relationship with the dead. We leave flowers but don’t leave food offerings or burn joss sticks. We don’t expect our ancestors to bless us with good luck (but they certainly can if they would like!). But at the same time, our relationship with the deceased remains important. Our ancestors, our forebears, lived the life that we are now living. They already know of our desires and struggles, because they had them too. Furthermore, however difficult life may seem to us today, it was probably a lot more difficult for our ancestors. Because they went ahead of us on the same journey, their wisdom and their blessing means so much.


This week gives us two things to think about. On the one hand, it is a time to reflect on the meaning of our faith. Are we strong because of what we do, or are we strong because of what God has done for us? But it is also a time to remember another source of strength—that is, those around us: our family and our friends. And not just those family and friends who are living, but also those who have gone ahead of us. Those that have gone ahead of us have left us the gifts that allow us to lead the lives we have today. They gave birth to us. They provided us with food and shelter. They founded this church. It’s thanks to them that we are so lucky to be able to be hear the Word of God and share fellowship in a community like KUC. Because of this they deserve not just our respect, but also our remembrance. The dead are not far away from us. They are close. Part of our Christian faith is remaining connected to the loved ones who lived before us. Faith is remembering those who made it possible for us to have faith. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, October 28, 2018

 

To Whom We Give?

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 21 October 2018 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 104:1-9; Mark 10:17-31.


Opening prayer

God of the poor,

May our mind, heart and soul be enriched by your word. May the Holy Spirit within us enlighten us to understand and Jesus Christ our Saviour empower us to walk in his way. Amen.   

Why poverty matters to Christians and Church?

On 17 October, the world was commemorating the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This day was designated by the United Nations 25 years ago to appeal to leaders and communities all over the world to end poverty. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, clearly stated that poverty is not a matter of charity but a question of justice. There is a fundamental connection between eradicating extreme poverty and upholding the equal rights of all people. The theme for the poverty day this year is “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.”

Poverty matters to Church and every Christian, rich or poor. Why?  It is because God created human beings in His holy image. Anyone whose basic human rights and dignity are deprived because of poverty is a violation of God’s holiness. It is a sin that we need to repent. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to the world to share our humanity and identified himself with the poor. He was born humble from a young poor girl in an un-respected place. Jesus, the incarnated God who came to the world to be with us, revealed to us the God of the poor.

Christians are called not only to serve for the poor but to become friends of the poor and church of the poor.  In our congregation at Kowloon Union Church, we have dedicated ourselves in supporting migrant domestic workers, ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and refugees through our social ministries. Every year the church sets a budget line to provide small grants to projects serving communities in need both local and overseas.

The Gospel reading we heard today is taken from Mark 10: 17-31. It is a good passage to share about wealth and poverty, that touches upon the core teaching of Jesus.

The passage talked about a rich man. He was a decent law-abiding Jew as he kept all the laws required of him since he was a boy. He went to Jesus asking him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to sell what he owned, and to give the money to the poor, and then come follow him.  Obviously, Jesus cared for the poor, and he called the rich man to share with them his wealth. For sure Jesus loved the poor. But we should notice that Jesus loved the rich man too. Jesus was serious about the question this rich man asked about eternal life.

The rich man who was seeking eternal life was required to share his possessions with the poor so that he will have treasure in heaven and enter the Kingdom of God.

In addressing the wealth and poverty issue, the challenges that Jesus gave to the rich man give us some insights.

The rich man was challenged to give up what he did not need. Poverty is caused not by inadequate resources. Poverty is caused by social injustice – unequal distribution of power and resources. The people who have more power and possession accumulate wealth for their own interests. This is greed and unjust social structure that make poverty worsen and the wealth gap keep widening, in Hong Kong and in many parts of the world.

To inherit eternal life and enter the Kingdom of God, faithful people need to tackle the sin of greed and the structural sin of injustice. 

It is not possessions and wealth that Jesus disapproved of. He did not insist that Zacchaeus, the tax collector sell all his possessions and give to the poor. After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus voluntarily gave up his possessions and restored fourfold whatever he had gained by fraud (Luke 19:8-9). In Jesus’ earthly ministries, he had been supported by many people who owned possessions and were rich.

What Jesus challenged the rich man was his willingness to share and let go of his sense of security that was based on earthly materials. The rich man reflected many people’s life reality, Christians included

Jesus was asking the rich man to let go of his earthly possessions and focus his life in God and with God. This is what Jesus asked from all of his disciples – including you and me, to follow him and walk in his way with full trust.

There are rich and super rich Christians from Hong Kong and other parts of the world who accumulated lands, properties and other kinds of possessions for their own benefits. Even though they are so rich, they still try to exploit and manipulate the poor so that they can gain more profits.

Possessions are indeed great temptations to human beings. The more people possess, the more people want to accumulate. There is a saying “money is the root of all evil.”

Jesus’ radical command to the rich man to sell all his possessions and share with the poor can be taken as a divine way to liberation – liberate from greed, liberate from materialistic attachment, liberate from fear of insecurity and loss. 

Jesus’ radical command to the rich man to sell all his possessions and share with the poor can be taken as a divine way to love – love to share with others, love to connect with others.

Sharing of wealth with the poor as a divine way to love led me to remember a lady from Taiwan. Her name is Chen Shu Chu, 67 years old. She was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 most influential people in 2010. She was a hawker selling vegetables in a wet market. What had she done for such an appreciation? She saved up most of the money she earned and donated to schools to help poor children. Do you know how much she donated?  Ten million New Taiwan Dollars (equivalent to 2.5 million HK dollars).

Ms Chen’s generous giving is impressive. What’s more touching and profound is her philosophy about money. She said if money is not used for the needy, that money is useless and meaningless. Paraphrasing her statement on the recent Lantau Tomorrow Vision proposed by the government to build artificial islands to create more land for future use: Land which is not used for common good and to be shared by all people especially the have-not would be useless and meaningless. 

I don’t know whether Ms Chen is a Christian or not. But what she did was Jesus’ radical command of sharing wealth with the poor. In this regard, she has kept her treasure in heaven and she is not far away from the Kingdom of God.

For friends who are literally poor without good income or without any earned income to have the means to meet ends may say the story about the rich man is not speaking to me because I have no possessions to sell and share. I can understand that feeling, but still I find there are messages that speak to people living in poverty.  

Many people think if they have nice house and a lot of money they would be happy and their lives will be secured. Look at this rich man, although he had a lot of possessions, he was not happy and satisfied because within his heart he has no joy.

Possessions and money do not necessarily bring happiness. Don’t take me wrong I am not justifying poverty. People who are rich could be very poor in spirit and love. On the other hand, people who are poor in material life could be very rich in love and joyful at heart.

Here I would like to share with you another old lady who is from Hong Kong. I call her Mrs Heung. She is now over 80 years old. She is a widow with five children. When she carried her youngest daughter in the 1960s, her husband passed away.  All her children were very small. She was the only one to take care of the whole family. Like many other poor families at that time, she lived a very meagre and difficult life. One day she heard children crying next door. When she went to see them, she felt great pity on the children because they were starving without food. Their mother just gave birth to a new born baby. Mrs Heung went home to give some rice to that family. She said at that very moment, she did not consider at all whether she had enough for her own children tomorrow. Out of deep compassion she just gave and shared what she had. Mrs Heung is a very devoted Christian and I always find smiles on her face. Although she was poor and yet she is so rich in love. From Mrs Heung’s generous giving, I found one truth, the giving to the little one and to the needy made the givers rich.

Pope Francis once said: “No one is so poor they cannot give what they have, but first and foremost who they are.”

Sisters and brothers, remember what Jesus assured us that we are God’s beloved children. Psalm 104 reminds us also that the earth and the whole world is God’s creation. We are God’s loving and beautiful creatures, full of dignity and worthy of his love. God will take responsibility to protect and provide everything that He made. Not only for our own goodself but all creatures. In God we lack nothing. In Jesus’ teaching and his sacrificing love, he assured us also all things are possible with God. (v27)

The passage from Mark 10:31 – many who are first will be last, and the last first.

These are radical teachings and affirmation of Jesus. Jesus Christ came to radically change the human order and norm of the world.  In Jesus’ own death and resurrection, in the loving acts of Ms Chen from Taiwan and Mrs Heung from Hong Kong, we may see how God’s power works in His people. Both ladies were giving to Jesus Christ who is fully present in the little ones and the poor people.

Their giving with love generates divine wealth that is the treasure God receives in heaven.

Today I gave my sermon a title: to whom we give? Are you ready to give what you have and what you are to God and follow Jesus?

I will end my sermon by singing a song with Janet.
It is a song of thanksgiving.
It is a song of commitment to the radical command of Jesus.
It is a song of divine love that lead us to eternal life.
It is a song to manifest the beauty of God’s kingdom. 

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, October 21, 2018

 

TRANSFORMATION MEMORIES: CLAIMING THE LIVING PAST--Luke 9: 28-36

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 14 October 2018, Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost, by Rev. Dr. Jerry Moye. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 90:12-17, Luke 9:28-36.


1—Stimulus for Message
 My 94 year old mother died one year ago; blessed memories
 Gift of this text, in Catholic church two days before funeral
 Ongoing power of the text

2—Scriptural Account & Background
 Luke describes event as a prayer experience
 Jesus needs retreat time; takes inner circle of 3 friends
 Preparation gift from God facing end of life journey
 Two mentors from the past rise up to give comfort

 Moses & Elijah, two major voices for Jewish faith & teaching
 Identifying Power: special calling & work, rejection & vindication
 Moses & mountaintop experiences: Sinai & Pisgah
 Elijah & mountaintop experiences: Carmel & Sinai

3—Making Connections
 Everyone needs experiences of feeling special presence & power of God
 God has great power coming to us through special friends & mentors
 Jesus has friendship power from three sources
  He takes inner circle of 3 friends to share his burden
  He communes with 2 mentors from a living past
  He is empowered by Holy Spirit; Spirit speaks to 3 friends

4—Invitation of the Gospel
  God has given us the church, his special family, to teach & ground us
  God has given us a Messiah Brother to share our humanity & redeem it
  God has given us Holy Spirit to illuminate, awaken well springs of heart

  Story gives a beautiful image of the Christ: He is the Beautiful Shining Christ
  He gives a liberating power, calling power, beautifying power

  II Corinthians 3:28—Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
  And we with faces uncovered reflect the glory, the beauty of the Lord.
  And we are being continually transformed into his likeness, an ever-increasing glory.
This comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, October 14, 2018

 

“When the Many Become One”

A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 7 October 2018, World Communion Sunday, Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, by Timothy Chan. The scripture readings that day were Genesis 2:18–24, Psalm 26, Mark 10:2–16.


Good morning friends, as Rev. Judy has already mentioned, today is the World Communion Sunday. You can see we have set up the communion table differently, and you may be able to find out the theme throughout the liturgy. I am also tempted to pick a scripture which fits today’s theme, but I did not, I stick to the scripture of the church calendar. As we have read the scripture just now, seemingly, it is about marriage, two become one, but I realize it is also talking about Christian unity and how God envisions our community life. Before I try to draw together the World Communion Sunday with today’s scripture, let us pray:
God of all nations, help us to understand your Word, and help us to live in peace with each other in a relationship which enriches our lives, and bring us closer to you. Hear our prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

1. When I first read the scripture today, particularly the Gospel of Mark, the first word coming into my mind is “divorce”. The Pharisees were testing Jesus whether he would abandon the teaching of Moses by asking him how it can be lawful to divorce one’s wife. Then Jesus simply answers, “Two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” So, seemingly Jesus did not agree with any divorce.
However, we must realize the fact that how we understand divorce in the 21st century is way too different from the understanding in the 1st century Roman empire which the Jews are influenced heavily by their own tradition. And the way we understand marriage is very different from the people in the 1st century.

In the biblical time, it was a patriarchal society, the sexuality of a woman is owed by her father, and then to her husband. Marriage was more like a family business, women have VERY little say on whom to marry, it depends on the father. The society back then was not as free as today’s where women can go to school, and choose whatever jobs they want to, to support their own living. Women have to rely on their household to maintain a position in the community. But very sadly, women had no say on whether they can be divorced or not. Therefore, the teaching of Moses is more concerned about the social system, the welfare of women after being divorced, etc. Jesus knew the Pharisees were testing him, he did not even care to respond directly.

Jesus deflects their question away from matters of the law and turns it instead to relationship and, in particular, to God’s hope that our relationships are more than legal matters. Jesus is promoting a relationship based on equality and mutual responsibility by quoting Genesis, reminding people of the Creator’s intention for us. Maybe some of you are still asking whether it is okay to divorce, but I think God is more concerned about the quality of the relationship, rather than the form of it, and how we can live a life of abundance and mutual dependence.

2. The Gospel reading today includes the story of Jesus blessing the children. It gives us a bigger picture of how Jesus envisions the kingdom of God where the weak and vulnerable are protected and welcomed. Children are welcome, women’s right are protected. In response to his disciples stopping children to approach Jesus, he said “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

How should we receive the kingdom of God as a little child? People would say, children are pure and innocent, it is really true. The way children approach a relationship is very direct and simple. I once saw online a social experiment video, it is comparing children with adults on how they react to a stranger’s need. There are different strangers they have prepared, there are black stranger, white stranger, poor stranger, and rich stranger, male or female, and the result shows that adults are more selective on who they would help, and the children would reach out to help all the strangers in need. It is not a surprising result, for our society has given people different labels and stereotypes, we are more prone to judge before we try to understand. For example, oh you divorced, you must not be a good Christian, and there are still many churches in Hong Kong wouldn’t accept a divorced person to be baptized or to serve in church.

We are called to be children, so that we can look through all these labels and stereotypes given by the society or by the church, to build relationships with understanding and respect. Today we have too many categorizations to define people, some use it to keep certain group of people out, and some use it to consolidate their status quo, but the Kingdom of God is a community of mutual dependence and sharing. Almost no one can live all by himself/herself, we are all needing some help from others to live. 

It happened long before in the Garden of Eden, when the Lord said “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” This scripture is used by men for centuries to justify their superior position over women, that women are made to be men’s helper, until a female scholar pointed out that only the weak would need help, so the women are made to rescue men. Well, it is quite true, for I look up the Hebrew dictionary, and the word “Helper” here is not someone who is inferior. Instead, the word is used to describe how God saves the Israelites, it carries a meaning of rescue.

After all, either we are the helper or someone who needs help, it is not because we are superior to any other. We must realize the original status of humankind, “It is not good that the human should be alone”, we need one another to complete each other. Therefore no one shall be excluded from the Kingdom of God, and no one shall be excluded from the fellowship of God’s people.

3. One of my favorite theologians Paul Tillich describes sin as a state of separation, of estrangement and of alienation. The biggest sin today is how we destroy the unity of God’s people, we marginalized people by their sexual orientation, by their religions, and their different skin colors. We promote fear in our society rather than promoting acceptance and understanding. We keep building invisible walls to keep people away from our comfort zone. To a point that even we need help, we would keep it to ourselves, because our trust to other people is broken.

Recent medical research points out that loneliness and isolation are growing into the biggest health threat to humankind, and it suggests that being connected socially is a fundamental need, crucial to well-being and survival. If sin is a state of alienation and separation, then the salvation and rescue would be reconciliation and reconnection. For me, the scripture today is not about marriage or about divorce, it is about how we shall build a community of mutual respect and dependence, and how we shall tear down the invisible walls we have made, to welcome people into our community and, more importantly, into our life.

4. Today is the World Communion Sunday, it is a reminder to all the Christians that we might have different theologies and traditions, and it is obvious that we have very different views on political issues or moral issues. We are challenged today, to think of what is more important, whether our differences would be bigger than the love that unites us together?


Only when we come back to the love of God, we see how he broke his body for all of us, for the Muslims, for the Christians, for the Atheists, and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer, and for those who are married, who are single, who are divorced, and for those who are old and who are small. The salvation God has prepared for us is a relationship, in Chinese churches, we always say, believe in God so you can have eternal life. But isn’t the greatest gift of all is to reconcile and reconnect with God, so we can have a relationship with God? When Jesus says “and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” I would take this flesh mentioned in this text as the body of Christ, through sharing the body of Christ, we are all no longer many, but one flesh. May we be reminded on this World Communion Sunday that we are called to be the peacemaker by living out a loving relationship and to include the marginalized into our community. May God help Kowloon Union Church to be the place that the many are one in Christ. Amen.

# posted by Heddy Ha : Sunday, October 07, 2018

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Archived sermons by the Barksdales

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