Reflection: Singing While Washing Toilets – Canon Robert Vun

Weekly Reflections

Weekly Reflection (16 November 2020)

Good morning. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. It is such a delight to be back again with you after another week of good news on the COVID-19 front. With the further easing of restrictions, we are now looking forward to a more normal summer.

We humans are blessed with the special ability to adjust to new circumstances. It seems strange now to see the traffic jams on roads and busy throng in the shopping centres after eight months of lockdown. If you feel lonely, do get out a bit and start contacting those who you know.

On the first Sunday of Advent, that is the 29th November, our Cathedral will be opening its doors for Sunday Services. This is so exciting because we had not worshipped together face to face since March. If you want to come in to worship, you will need to book through the “Trybooking” website. Please go into our website for the details. Failing that, please call our Cathedral Office on this number: 9365 4333.

I am conscious that the effect of this pandemic is still felt by many for a long time to come. The restoring of broken lives, rebuilding of ruined businesses and impact of retrenchments is just beginning. Let us remember each other in our prayers. Let us also be keep safe and healthy.

Prayer of the Week

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Almighty God, whose sovereign purpose none can make void: give us faith to be steadfast amid the tumults of this world, knowing that your kingdom shall come and your will be done, to your eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from Psalm 134.

Bible Reading

Psalm 134 – Praise in the Night

A Song of Ascents.

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.


Singing While Washing Toilets

Today I will continue to share about God’s grace and mercy that I can recall in my life. My last sharing was about God teaching me to trust him during my theological studies in Singapore. This time I will share about how He taught me to sing while washing the toilets.

The last time, I disclosed that Singapore Bible College existed by faith. It wholly depends on donations from individuals and churches to survive. This means that keeping the College and its compound clean was one of the responsibilities students have to bear.

The Cleaning Committee was in-charge of allocating students to clean all the different parts of the building and compound. One of the most hated tasks was being assigned to clean the toilets. Since most of the 150 students were live ins, the hostel’s men toilet block had about 8 toilet and 8 shower cubicles.  On top of that, there was the general toilet block that was only slightly smaller. 

Every month students will eagerly scan the new cleaning roster posted on the Notice Board. You can hear the audible moans of those assigned to clean the toilet blocks. This included me. This undesirable task seems to be assigned to me faster than it should.

I would go about cleaning the toilet and shower cubicles with a grumpy attitude. There was no joy in it – but a lot of sighing and whinging. It was a burdensome duty at best.

One day, while reading Psalm 134, the verses jumped up at me. It says:
Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.

The Jerusalem Temple was manned day and night. Those who were on duty during the day would enjoy the limelight. They can interact with the worshipping multitudes, sacrifice the animals and burn them, minister to people and chat with them. They would even have a portion of some of the animals sacrificed. They were enjoying their duties in full view of everyone and after that going home to dinner and then to their warmth bed at night.

However, those who serve at night had to be on their feet throughout the night. They had to make sure that the countless oil-lamps were kept burning throughout the night, the dirty courtyards cleaned after the thousands of worshippers had used it, they had to endure the graveyard shift, shiver through the cold of the night, bear the loneliness of an empty precinct, fend off tiredness and sleepiness, not think of their warm beds, and wait for the light of dawn.      

This is when the Psalmist burst into the scene. He invites all those who serve at night in the house of the LORD saying, “Come, bless the LORD. Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord.”

Instead of going about their tasks as a duty of burden, they are to see it as a worship of praise! What a paradigm shift of perspective that can bring about a total transformation of their attitude and approach to what they are doing. Instead of tugging along to fulfil a duty, it is a lifting of hands to God to bless Him. The result is that the LORD, who is the maker of heaven and earth will bless them from his holy habitation.

It was a light-bulb moment for me! I was not just washing toilets, I was serving God through it. I am invited to bless the LORD in a worship of praise while washing the cubicles. From a constant muttering of complain under the breath when washing toilets, now there is singing of praise songs! Washing the toilets have turned from a drudgery into a joy! The toilets are cleaner than before because I am now doing it better. Why? Because I am now washing the toilets from my heart, and not just mechanically.

I was looking forward to wash the toilets each morning. Students stop to look at me in astonishment and some even with concerned faces. They were wondering if I had lost my mind because of the heavy theological studies. No, I haven’t. I can assure you that I am quite sane.

There will be a time in your life when you face the, so to say, ‘washing toilets’ situation. Reflect on those moments in your life when you tend to complain about your lot. How you respond to it determines whether it is a drudgery or joy. What will your choice be? My invitation is, “Come, bless the LORD…”

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.

The Blessing

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour every person; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you always. Amen

Thank you for sharing this time with me. Continue to give thanks to God without ceasing. Look after yourself and keep safe. Bring a smile to someone’s face this week.

Till next Monday then, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.