I welcome you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you had a great week of experience the presence, grace and love of the Lord Jesus and also got to know him deeper in a new way and better in a wide-ranging way.
You are always welcome to this short time of reflection as we share and learn together at the feet of Jesus. May this be a refreshing and encouraging time for us all.
Prayer of the Week
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Eternal God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: grant that we may walk in his way, rejoice in his truth, and share his risen life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Recently I have been thinking about the infant Church in Acts and my own experience of growing up and of ministry. There was never a dull moment when the book of Acts describes the infant Church. The fast pace of persecutions, signs and wonders, revivals, revelations, Gentiles conversions and receiving the Holy Spirit and the Church grappling with these totally new phenomena.
Amidst all these, we read from Acts 12:24-13:3
But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned fromJerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark. Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Tapestry of Grace
I am very fortunate and blessed to grow up in a multi-cultural society. From young we were surrounded with neighbours and friends from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Different cultures and languages were the norm of daily life back then.
This is very similar to our beloved Melbourne. One of the first things tourists notice when they visit Melbourne is our cultural diversity. One cannot help but notice this diversity in our city streets and throughout the suburbs.
In fact, almost 50 per cent of Victorians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas. Our state is made up of people from more than 200 countries. The diversity of our communities contributes to our food, shopping, business, entertainment and more. It’s just one of the reasons Melbourne is one of the, if not the, most liveable cities in the world.
This is reflected in the life of St Paul’s Cathedral. The great diversity of people that visits our Cathedral everyday is amazing. I have seen Buddhist monks with their saffron robes strolling through the building, a Haji who came in to read his Quran during the Christmas Eve Service, Sikhs with the turbans, Goths in their distinctive clothing…. The list can go on.
St Paul’s is the home for worshippers from more than two dozen nations. We are one big family of God from different backgrounds sharing one faith, one hope and one love. Our Cathedral is our spiritual home because God has gathered us from all the nations to worship, grow and minister to others.
While some celebrate this diversity, others might wonder how all these will work out. While some see symphony, others may see the differences. Some appreciates its intertwining, others may note its dissonance. What do we make of it and how should we deal with it?
Isn’t it a great comfort to see that the infant Church was also very multicultural? We read from Acts 12 that “word of God continued to spread and flourish” in spite of the persecutions and growing pangs they faced. Barnabas was sent to city of Antioch to investigate the new phenomenon of a Gentile Church there. He came back to Jerusalem to report on his mission. Now he is coming back to Antioch bringing Saul and Mark with him!
In this multi-ethnic Antioch Church, they were first called Christians. Out of this same Church, God called Barnabas and Saul to be sent out as apostles of the Gospel to the Gentile world. So, began Paul’s first Missionary Journey.
Isn’t it wonderful that we are blessed with diversity so that we can show the world that just as God loved the world in all its diverse cultures, we can love one another with that love.
A friend of mine once wrote this poem,
“The tapestry has many different colours and fabrics,
Representing the strengths and durability of different people and events.
Look at the underside; it is messy and frayed, loose ends.
But there is an invisible thread – that one may not see unless one chooses to.
It is the thread of Grace.”
Another friend asked him “May l know how and where did you find the inspiration to pen the above?” His answer was…..
“In Turkey, I saw how the Persian carpet specialist wove their different types of threads into very fine knots that formed the multiple layers of tapestry that make up the carpet: cotton on cotton, cotton on wool, wool on wool, silk on wool, silk on silk – in diverse colours. It was amazing! It could take up to a year to complete a drawing room size piece that can cost up to a million dollars if done by a famous craftsman!
Only God can have that patience and the foresight to see how our lives will finally turn out.”
Praise God for our diversity. God loves us all though we are all different. And He made us into one rich colourful tapestry – that is his big family. May His threat of grace runs through all our differences to make us one.
The Morning Collect
Heavenly God, Maker of all nationalities on earth. Your Word reveals to us that in Your kingdom there are peoples from every nation, from every tribe, from every people; and from every language. You did this because You are a God of no partiality who loves us all and desire that we all may seek You to be saved. I pray that I too may look at everyone the same way You do, to love them as You desire, to walk with them as You would and to grow together as members of the body of Christ. Through God the three in One in perfect unity for eternity. Amen.
May the Lord of His great mercy bless you, and give you understanding of His wisdom and grace;
May He nourish you with the riches of the Catholic Faith, and make you to persevere in all good works;
May He keep your steps from wandering, and direct you into the paths of love and peace;
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. 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 Muslim who had been to Mecca to perform his Hajj.
 Rev Loh Soon Choy
 Southwark Diocese