A very good morning to you. I am delighted that we can share this short time of reflection together. A warmest welcome to each of you – whether you are here for the first time or a regular listener. I pray that this short time of reflection will bring encouragement to you in your daily life.
Yesterday was one of Australia’s most scared days. Many of you would have observed or taken part in the ANZAC Day commemoration. To many of us, this day has special significance because someone dear to you or you yourself has served or is still serving in the Defence Force. The sacrifices of women and men who served our country in war and peace keeping operations is worthy of our respect and care. It is due to their selfless sacrifice that can enjoy the peace and prosperity we have today. Let us earnestly pray that God will grant us peace in our time and that we may never face the horrors and destructions of war.
Prayer of the Week
Collect for Anzac Day
O God, our ruler and guide, in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation, we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land and for those who laid down their lives to defend them: We pray that we and all the people of Australia, gratefully remembering their courage and their sacrifice, may have grace to live in a spirit of justice, of generosity, and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for Good Shepard Sunday (4th Sunday of Easter)
Jesus, good shepherd of the sheep, by whom the lost are sought and guided into the fold: feed us and we shall be satisfied, heal us and we shall be whole, and lead us that we may be with you, where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Our Bible Reading for today is taken from Mark 10:35-45
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared. 41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
What About Me?
Since yesterday was ANZAC day and I celebrated my birthday two days before that, I shall share with you an experience of mine as a Defence Force Chaplain while in Solomon Islands.
I became a Reservist Army Chaplain in 2002. You might be wondering why I chose to be an Army Chaplain. There are the two reasons.
Firstly, it is a missionary endeavour. Australia is a missions field. Being a Chinese from Malaysia, what better opportunity of ministering to young white Australians than being amongst them as their Chaplain.
Secondly, it is my way of contributing back to the country I chose to be mine. I saw too many Asian migrants coming to this marvellous country and reaping its wonderful benefits and not thinking of giving back to it. As a Christian, I want to set a good example to give something back to my country. As a minister, I can do that as a Defence Force Chaplain.
Life is eventful in the Army and the Chaplain is one of the support officers who looks after the welfare and religious needs of the service personnel and their families. We are embedded into our Units and interact with the soldiers in their daily duties. We are also deployed with them when they go on operations.
In 2009, I had the privilege of being deployed with a group of soldiers to Solomon Islands. Being away from home in an operational environment makes everyone of us think of the comforts we enjoy with our love ones at home.
In order to minimise the effects of home sickness, there would be a special mention and small celebration for each soldier on their birthday. This was very much anticipated amongst the mundane and long hours of duties each day.
With much eagerness I await my birthday to arrive. The day came, passed by and ended without any one noticing it. In my room that night, I was sad and dejected. “How could they have missed my birthday?” “I am the only one that they overlooked.” “Why?”
As I sat on my bed with these and other similar questions swarming my head, suddenly a light shone and pierced through the dark clouds of despair and self-indulgence. Jesus’ words came as a rebuke and also a comfort to my wounded spirit.
He said, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I am not supposed to be the focus of attention, I am not here to be served, I am not to put myself first before others. Even Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Who am I that I should mope around like a spoiled child?
Though I knew this is what Jesus taught and wanted me to do, but I still found it hard to accept. I had to do a lot of self-talking and self-admonishing before I came to my proper senses.
There is a close connection between ANZAC Day and the cross of Jesus. Our ANZAC forebears put their lives on the line for king and country and suffered greatly for it. Many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice. Many more were wounded and disabled. Still many more others more bored psychological injuries that will torment them for the rest of their lives. Jesus came to serve, suffered and willingly gave up his life on the horrendous cross for you and I.
The insignificant slip-up of having my birthday forgotten counts for nought in this grand scheme of things. How dare I even sulk! Indeed, I need to be reminded and go back to my calling as a Christian, a minister and why I became an Army Chaplain. I am Jesus’ disciple who should emulate his sacrificial love and life.
Today, many things that hassle us personally are actually none issues in the light of the cross. The next time something upsets you, see it in the light of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for you on the cross. Then, let the love and grace of Jesus guides and heals you.
The Morning Collect
Almighty God, you have conquered death through your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant us by your grace to set our mind on things above, so that by your continual help our whole life may be transformed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit in everlasting glory. Amen.
May God the Father prepare your journey,
Jesus the Son guide your footsteps,
The Spirit of Life strengthen your body,
The Three in One watch over you,
on every road that you may follow.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Thank you for our time together. Looking forward to be with you again next week. In the meantime, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
 A Diary of Private Prayer, Baillie, John; Oxford University Press, 1936. (Day 29)