Reflection: Instant Noodle Banquet – Canon Robert Vun

Weekly Reflections

Weekly Reflection (14 December 2020)

A very good morning to you. It is so wonderful to be back with you. Whether you are joining us for the first time or had been with us some time now – I warmly welcome you to this short time of reflection.

I had a delightful week enjoying the easing of restrictions in Victoria that afforded me more freedom and meeting with other people. Such simple activities had always been taken for granted. It was a rude shock for many when the restrictions were imposed. Now there is a great sigh of relief that normal life is possible again.

Christmastide is here again – though a bit subdued this year. The decorations are up, the Christmas shopping is on and the holiday mood is noticeable with many people. Many of you may have already planned for your Christmas and New Year break. This Reflection Time shall also recess for a few weeks. This will be the last reflection till early next year.

May I encourage you to join in-person our Sunday and Christmas 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. Now that there is no restriction in numbers but only proper physical spacing, we can accommodate many more worshippers.

In your prayers, please remember the millions who have contracted the coronavirus, their families and frontliners who tirelessly work to battle this pandemic. Remember also the millions in refugee camps, victims of conflicts, political prisoners and those suffering from natural disasters.

As we enjoy this Christmas tide, may our care go out to them and our trusting prayers to our Heavenly Father.

Let us pray:

God of the nations, whose sovereign rule brings justice and peace, have mercy on our broken and divided world.  We remember the 69 million people affected by COVID-19 and 1.6 million who had passed away. Give to all national leaders determination and courage to act decisively. Protect all those who look after the sick and enable researchers to produce a reliable vaccine soon.

In countries being devasted by conflicts, civil unrests and crimes, we ask you to shed abroad your peace in the hearts of all and banish from them the spirit that makes for war, that all races and peoples may learn to live as members of one family and in obedience to your law, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of the Week

Third Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, you have made us and all things to serve you: come quickly to save us, so that wars and violence shall end and your children may live in peace, honouring one another with justice and love; through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our Bible Reading today is taken from Matthew 25:31-46.

Bible Reading

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 Devotion  

INSTANT NOODLE BANQUET

My happiest childhood memories are that of Christmas time. It is at this time of the year that I have new cloths, lots of yummy food to eat, a new pair of shoes, and receive Christmas presents. These things might not mean a lot today. But I was from a family of 8 and not well to do. Christmas was a special treat that only comes around once a year.

Especially delightful was going to the special children Christmas Service that was packed full of children. The air was always filled with excitement because there was singing on stage, performing skits and of course the Christmas presents! Each child gets one as his own – how thrilling. This is the only present for the year for me as birthday was not usually celebrated.

Most unforgettable was my father, every year taking me and my brother on a long trip to a remote deserted stretch of beach to find the right Aru tree to cut and bring home to decorate as our own Christmas tree. Inevitably, Dad would cut one that is too big. It would be higher than the ceiling. But hey, who cares, the happiness and enchantment of decorating the Christmas tree with cut colour papers as streamers, cotton wool as snow and home-made decorations – was enough to get all the siblings happily involved.

When I was in my early twenties, I was in Theological College in Singapore. Christmas time was the long summer break and we were home on placement to a local Church. There little time for celebrations as there was much preparation and ministry involved. While each family have their Christmas meal, we would be having it with the Vicar’s family.

Apart from Christmas, the other great Chinese celebration of the year is the Chinese New Year. It is usually in February and College would have started. We who are living in the College hostel and not from Singapore would have no where to go. There was two days of school holidays for this festival thus the College’s kitchen was closed. Furthermore, because it was Chinese New Year, all groceries and food outlets were closed. Being poor students, we had no other means to get our meals.

What hit me the hardest was knowing that Chinese families all over Singapore would be gorging themselves on the most delicious banquet of the year. But here we are, forgotten and deprived. The only alternative to starving for the two days, was to cook instant noodles for ourselves. That was the cheapest option. It was also easiest to cook as we were students and hardly know how to boil an egg. Instant noodle was our Chinese New Year banquet.

How I wished that someone would notice us and provide us a meal – no need to be a Chinese New Year banquet, just a simple meal. You can understand the cool reception from us when our Singaporean classmates come back to share their stories of feastings and festive gatherings.

Back then, we poor students were unnoticed by the Christian community around us. Today, there are still groups of “invisible” peoples among us. They are the ones we rather not see, not notice, not recognise, not remember and not pay attention to. Like the inn keeper who saw the very pregnant Mary with her carpenter husband Joseph. Knowing that high-paying customers has filled his inn in this once-a-lifetime business opportunity from the crowds because of the census, he dismissed this needy young couple out of his sight.  No room for this impoverished couple in my place – they can stay with the animals if they want!

As we celebrate Christmas this year, remember the teaching of our Gospel reading. Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these – the hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, – you did it to Me.’

Among the most moving Christmas Carols is one I learned in my young teens. It is called “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” was written by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1864). She was the daughter of an Anglican clergyman and the niece to Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871), the author of the famous hymn, “Just as I am.”

“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” was written to explain the significance of the incarnation to children and the choir in her father’s parish, St. Mark’s in Brighton, England. I encourage you to read the whole of this hymn while I shall endeavour to sing the first verse for you.

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2 Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3 The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4 Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5 When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

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

This Christmas and in the coming year,
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[i]

Thank you for sharing this last reflection for the year with me. Look after yourself and keep safe. My warmest blessings to you and your loved ones over this Christmas and New Year period. Have a joyful and blessed Christmas with Jesus.

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


[i] Copyright © John Birch, 2016.

ⓘ In line with current lockdown in Victoria, the Cathedral is closed. Worship continues online. Read More
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