Weekly Reflection (7 December 2020)
Good morning. How was your last week? I trust that you had a blessed week. I pray that this short time together will be another blessing to you as you let God minster to you. A very warm welcome to you whether you are joining us for the first time or has been a regular listener.
There is an air of excitement as we are able to physically worship together. Though we still have to observe the steps of keeping each other safe, it is such a wonderful feeling to see real faces and hear natural voices as we interact socially as permitted.
May I encourage you to join us in the Wednesday Lunchtime Eucharist or Sunday Services if possible. Go into St Paul’s Cathedral’s website and book a seat through the TryBooking App. The other way is to call the Cathedral’s Office on this number: 9365 4333. We look forward to see you in person soon.
We in Victoria are doing very well in keeping the coronavirus at bay. This is not so for other parts of the world. There are 65 million people infected and unfortunately 1.5 million people has since lost their lives.
As the world grapples with the devasting effects of this pandemic, St Paul’s Cathedral is committed to being part of the solution to this global health crisis – both in caring for one another and in trusting prayers to our Heavenly Father.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, Great physician and healer of souls, now give us your peace: protect those working with the sick and infected, enable researchers and laboratory staff as they seek and test a cure, grant swift and complete healing to those infected, calm the hearts of those fearing the impact of the pandemic on their own lives, give your wisdom to leaders of nations and organisations as they make plans for the people in their care, be present with all who are lonely and isolated, comfort those who are dying and those who mourn loved ones. Through the power of the Holy Spirit enable us to know you, love you, and place our trust in you, the God who heals and restores life, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer of the Week
Second Sunday of Advent
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent your messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from Romans 12:9-21.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
STOP SHAKING MY BED!
My sharing today continues on with my experiences at Theological College. Back then in the seventies, almost all the students were lived in. The student dorms were on the first floor of a two-stories long building. Each room housed 4 students. As you enter each room, on the left is two tiny study tables, a bunk-bed and two small build-in wardrobe. The right-hand side is a mirror of the left. The centre walkway was only a meter and a half wide. This is our bedroom shared with three other students for the four years of studies.
Yes, it was a cramp – but hey, we are students, poor students having few possessions. Our books were the most priced of all possessions. Even the typewriters which we had to use for assignments were shared machines in the common room.
Living in such proximity with others is not easy. Students come from different church traditions and backgrounds. Each individual has a unique character. Much tolerance is needed and there has to be a lot of give and take to keep the peace. Our Bible reading from Romans 12 is very pertinent here.
As for sleeping arrangements, seniors get to choose their bunk bed – and inevitably they would choose the lower bunk for ease of access and movement. By the end of the first year, one would have learned when sleeping to turn his body to the other side as gently as possible.
It is most annoying, if a student would toss and turn in the middle of the night while you are desperately trying to get back to sleep. The shaking is worse if one is in the upper bunk. It is not uncommon to hear someone (almost) shout in the middle of the night, “Stop Shaking my bed!”. The idea that Theological School is an idyllic place full of spiritual people quickly vaporise when you have a “bed shaker” in the lower bunk.
I often wonder why God always tend to give me the most irritating students as room-mates. In actual fact, they are not irritating. It is I who has been irritated. It is not their actions that was irritating, but my response, or rather reaction, to their actions. God has placed them into my life to teach me how to live in harmony with others. This lesson bears me in good stead when I would later graduate and come out to minister in Churches – where there are more irritating people with worse irritations.
Life hasn’t changed much these 2,000 years. Just as Paul instructed the Roman Christians on how to live out their Christian life in community, today we need to heed the same advice as we come back together to worship and fellowship physically.
God has given us each other who are all unique in our character and background. There will always be friction among God’s people because we are all imperfect. The greatest testimony we can show the world is that we live in peace with one another because we love each other with God’s love.
As Jesus’ said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” [i]
Here in Romans 12, Paul goes a step further by saying in verse 10, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour.”
By the third year of College, when someone shakes my bed, I not longer say, “Stop shaking my bed!” I say, “Is everything OK up/down there?” Inevitably, the shaking will stop…
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 love of God be the passion in your heart.
The joy of God your strength when times are hard.
The presence of God a peace that overflows.
The Word of God the seed that you might sow. Amen[ii]
Thank you for sharing this time with me. May the Lord use your life as a blessing to all you meet. Look after yourself and keep safe. Bring the love of God to someone’s life this week.
Till next Monday then, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
[i] John 13:34-35
[ii] Copyright © John Birch, 2016.