Weekly Reflection (28 September 2020)
Good morning to you. How are you today? It is again such a privilege and pleasure to share this short time of reflection about God’s grace with you. We are feeling much better in Melbourne this week as the weather once again resembles spring time and the restrictions are eased a bit more. May we continue to remember those all over the world who are not as fortunate as us. Their lot is much tougher than ours.
I will continue to share with you about God’s grace which He had so marvellously weaved into my life. I hope that this will help you reflect on how His grace has also been so wonderfully poured into your life.
Today I am going to share about the most important decision I made in my life when I was just 14 years old.
May we begin with a prayer.
Let us pray:
Almighty God and our Gracious Father,
we bring before you our sacrifice this morning in giving you
worship with all our life,
obedience with all our power,
praise with all our strength,
honour with all our speech.
love with all our heart,
affection with all our sense,
our being with all our mind,
our soul, O most high and holy God.
Praise to the Father,
Praise to the Son,
Praise to the Spirit,
The Three in One. Amen.[i]
The Prayer of the Week
Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant us such a measure of your grace that, running in the way of your commandments, we may obtain your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from the first Chapter of the Gospel of John verses 1 to 13. Here John introduces Jesus as the Word Who is the creator and also life-giving God. In Jesus was life and the light of men yet they did not understand nor received Him. But to as many as receive or believe in Jesus, He gave them power to become God’s children.
Let us now hear the Bible reading …
Bible Reading – John 1:1-13
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Overcoming Life’s Worst Fear
In my previous reflections, I shared about how led my great-grandfather to seek sanctuary in a Church. I also shared about my grandmother’s faith and the faithfulness of my Sunday School teachers.
While I mainly attended Sunday School at home during my Primary School days. I was occasionally allowed to follow my parents to the Cathedral which was 16 kilometres away.
I only began to go to Church regularly when I started High School. This is because a new Church called Christ Church, Likas was built – only 8 kilometres from my house. In 1970 I was confirmed together with some of my siblings and cousins.
Our family was one of the main pillars of this budding Parish. I started serving as a Server and a Choir member every Sunday. I also joined the newly formed Youth Fellowship led by an ethnic Chinese CMS missionary from Sydney but who did not speak Chinese. I was involved with the all the activities of the Church and cleaning of Church every Saturday to prepare for the Sunday Service.
Outwardly, I was very much a young contributing member of the Church. I was doing every religious thing properly and correctly. However, something deep inside me that still bothers me dreadfully. It was the great dread of dying and its consequence.
I have learned that after we die, we either go to heaven or hell. I couldn’t be certain if I would be going to heaven. The question of, “What if I don’t qualify to enter heaven?” This means that I will receive the dreadful consequence of suffering eternally in burning fire of hell.
This issue is so disturbing that some nights I had insomnia. I was in terrified of waking up in hell. This enormous burden laid heavily on my soul. I could not find any way out.
When I was 14 years old, the Diocese organised a Youth Camp. Since it was hosted by our Parish, my cousin, my older brother and I enrolled in it. The theme was “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
The fog of time has now erased my memory of almost all that happened in this Youth Camp. One event however, stood out clearly. It was during one of the long afternoon breaks that a Priest from Singapore gather a group of us young people and shared with us the “Four Spiritual Laws.”
From it, he shared that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for each of us. However, most people cannot experience this marvellous plan of God because their sins have not yet been forgiven. The good news is that Jesus had died for us on the cross and all we need is to confess our sins, believe and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.
Most of us in that gathered group did just that. This included my cousin, my brother and I. There was a sweet joy and wonderful feeling that swept over our entire beings. We felt as light as feathers when we experience God setting us free from our sins and from our fears. It is hard to describe it, but we felt like we were on cloud nine for the few days that followed.
For me, my greatest transformation was the assurance that I now belong to God as one of His children. He has forgiven my sins and nothing can separate me from Jesus’ love. I have been set free from the fear of death because I have the assurance that I will eternally be with God in heaven when I die. I am His and He is mine. Hallelujah!
What about you, what is your greatest fear in your life? Let God be your Lord and the master of this fear. He can release you from it. If you have not done so, may I encourage you to entrust your life to Jesus Christ. Let Him be the Saviour and Lord of your life and set you free from the bondages that ties you down.
Remember our Gospel, John assures us that, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
And again, John later wrote, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.[ii]
My cousin, my brother and I were separately called by God into the ministry.
My cousin went on the become a Diocesan Bishop. Six years ago, he went to receive His eternal reward in heaven.
My brother was called into the ministry the very moment he believed and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour at the Youth Camp. He served as an Anglican Minister for 15 years and came out to start his own flourishing Church in our home town.
As for me, by God’s grace, I am still an Anglican Priest. In these 38 years of ordained ministry, I have seen many and even handled some dead bodies. I no longer have the fear of death because I know my Saviour and Redeemer has delivered me from death to life.
To God be all the glory.
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.
May the Lord bless us and keep us; the Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious to us; the Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace. Amen.[iii]
Thank you for your patience. May we share the good news of Jesus’ salvation to all around us that all who believe may have the abundant eternal life in Christ. Till next Monday, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Have a blessed week. Amen.
[i] Adapted from Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica (1900).
[ii] John 3:16
[iii] Numbers 6.24–26