Weekly Reflection (21 September 2020)
Good morning. What a privilege and pleasure to share this short time of reflection with you. How wonderful it is that the spring weather is warming up and the COVID-19 cases are in its steady downward trend. I am sure, many of us look forward to next Monday where restrictions may be eased for us here in Melbourne.
Today is the third time in sharing about God’s grace that is so evident in my life. This was displayed even before I was born – as you have heard in the last two reflections.
I will now reflect on my life as a little boy and how the people around me had influenced me to be who and what I am today. I hope that it will encourage you in as you faithfully witness for Christ through how you live and what you do for others. You might never know how God can use you to touch someone’s life. As you avail yourself to God, you can in His gracious hand become His instrument of blessings impacting lives around you.
Let us now turn to our Father in prayer.
Let us pray:
Loving and righteous God, your boundless generosity exceeds all that we can desire or deserve, and you give to the last worker all you promised to the first: liberate us from all jealousy and greed, that we may be free to love and serve others, and in your service may find our true reward; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[i]
The Prayer of the Week
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Loving Father, whose Son Jesus Christ has taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for him: give us the will to be the servant of others as he was the servant of all, who gave up his life and died for us, and yet lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from 2 Timothy 3:10-17. This is part of Paul’s final charge to his protégé Timothy. In it, Paul encourages Timothy to continue in what he had learned and had become convinced of. This is because it was Timothy’s mother, grandmother and Paul who had, by their lives and teachings, taught him how he should live for Christ.
Let us now hear the Bible reading …
2 Timothy 3:10-17
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that you, a man of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.[ii]
My Childhood Heroes
This is my third reflection about the amazing hand of our gracious God actively at work in my life. I come from a big family of five sisters and three bothers. I am the seventh and the last boy among the siblings. My older four sisters were my babysitters as both my parents worked. We were staying beside our grandparents’ house – my uncle and his family of seven children lived with them.
I can recall my earliest memories as a very small child. I could not even walk very far back then. My older siblings and cousins would carry me to a neighbour’s house for Sunday School. All I could remember was that it was a house with a low ceiling with chickens running around our feet and pooing all over the floor. An Anglican Sister named Margaret would teach us Bible stories in her immaculate sister’s habit.
At the same time, a Mr. Tsen, the barber of the next small town would visit my grandmother every week. Apart from working as a barber, he was also an itinerant evangelist and he ran children’s Bible class for us 11 children who were old enough to sit around to listen to him. He would faithfully come with his colourful posters and tells us stories from the Bible. This is when I learn to memorise the Lord’s Prayer in Hakka (a Chinese dialect) when I was only three years old.
Later, when I was in Primary School, we had the Sunday School in our home with our cousins and neighbour’s children. Young women missionaries from Hong Kong would come every Saturday dressed in their cheongsam teaching us how to sing Christian songs, telling us Bible stories and helping us memorise Bible verses.
Sister Margaret, the barber cum itinerant evangelist (Mr. Tsen) and the young women from Hong Kong sacrificed their time, energy, worldly opportunities, comfort and convenience to teach God’s truth to a motley group of children. I can recall more than once the look of despair in the young missionaries’ eyes as we boys were up to our antics again during Sunday School lesson.
I often wondered, if God’s grace had not touched me through these heroes of my faith when I was young, who and what would I have become today? This I am certain, my life would certainly be a disaster.
They are but ordinary people who were trying their best to be faithful in living out their lives for God. We boys however, were up to our mischievous playfulness. They couldn’t know nor see it then, but God’s grace was shown through them and touched each of our lives for all my siblings and cousins grew to adulthood having the gospel seeds sown into our hearts. These seeds germinated and bear much fruit for God’s glory. Their labours had not been in vain. Three of us boys became Anglican Priests with one going on to be a Diocesan Bishop. A sister of mine is a Children Minister of 300-500 children. All other siblings and cousins are serving in various ministries in the Church.
We heard in the Scripture reading just now that Paul reminded Timothy in his final charge to continue in what he had learned and have become convinced of, because Timothy knew those from whom he learned it. Timothy knew Paul’s teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings. More importantly, Paul said that from infancy Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures. This comes from the sincere faith of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.[iii] Timothy became what and who he was because of his childhood godly influence that was reinforced by Paul’s mentoring.
Think back to your own spiritual journey and see the many people who had influenced to shaped you into who and what you are today. Most of them would never had guessed the impact they had in your life. Give thanks to God for them.
May I encourage you to continue to live your life faithfully for God and serve Him in whatever capacity He calls and places you? You are also God’s instrument of His grace. Only allow Him to use you. You may not see or know the result of your life and service today. But the life used by God, is His usual channel of grace.
Remember Paul’s encouraging words, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”[iv]
Sister Margaret is still alive and in her nineties now. Whenever I see her in Church when I go back to Sabah, I always remind her that she was our Sunday School teacher. She often would have a surprise expression of how the grace of God had changed her rowdy mob of Sunday School boys.
Mr. Tsen, the barber cum itinerant evangelist, had gone back to his reward in heaven many years ago.
I often wondered what happened to the then young women missionaries from Hong Kong. How much they suffered under our naughty behaviours. I deeply admire and appreciate how they had given up their country, their people, their families, their culture and most importantly almost certainly given up their future of forming a family just to come to then rural Sabah to share the gospel of Jesus’ love with us. Wouldn’t they be pleasantly surprised at the result of their loving ministry that seemed so futile and fruitless back then? God bless them all.
The Morning Collect
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
An Ancient Celtic Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.[v]
Thank you for sharing this time with me. May we continue to faithfully live for God be his instrument of blessings to people around us. Till next Monday, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Have a blessed week. Amen.
[i] Prayer of the Day, Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost, APBA.
[ii] Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.@ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
[iii] 2 Timothy 1:5
[iv] 1 Corinthians 15:58
[v] An Ancient Celtic Blessing