Staying Dependent On The Lord And One Another

Staying Dependent On The Lord And One Another

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All 2018 January Vicar Writes

14 January 2018 | Vicar Writes

Staying Dependent On The Lord And One Another

By Terry Wong
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The year has started fast and furious, plans are beginning to be rolled out as we anticipate another exciting year of spiritual growth, ministry and mission opportunities.

While events and projects are easy to organise, pastoring and discipling that each person may grow is always more difficult. I reiterate here again: Church is not primarily about each of us achieving SAC’s objectives or helping our Vicar, pastors or leaders to succeed and attain “ministry trophies.” It should be about the Church “equipping the saints for ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) and helping each person find their calling and destiny in Christ.

I was reminded of this again from one of last week’s lectionary readings, Colossians 4:12,13:

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.”

Epaphras’ struggles is “in prayers”, reminding us again that our ministry can only be borne and sustained if we are praying and in partnership with the Lord, even while we “work hard” for those we are serving. In praying, we also hear from the Lord and receive His perspective of things, and in so doing, we allow Him to draw alongside us.

Here is my prayer that we will grow deeper in our ministry partnership. How? Through our struggling in our prayers. It is when we are fully dependent on the Lord, kneeling together before Him, that we will find a way to work well together in spite of our differences in personalities, miscommunication and so on. When we are not dependent on Him, not abiding in Christ (John 15), or living in broken communion with the Lord (often because of sin), it can be difficult for brothers and sisters to work well together.

Having been here for 2 years plus, I also observed that while hearts may be sincere, we must always remember that we are fallible beings serving in a fallible world. We have no way of knowing how we may be causing unintended harm or discouragement unless we remain open to feedback. In this regard, even after 30 over years of intense full time ministry and being a Canon, my posture is always an open one where others can give feedback, even if it can be difficult to hear them. I do that because I need that.

One small recent example. Just a few minutes after 2018 started, as I was greeting those who were leaving the New Year's Eve service, one lady came to me. She was completely distraught because she felt unfairly treated and humiliated when she was blocked from coming back into the Nave after she popped out briefly to watch the fireworks. That was the first feedback I received in 2018. Even as she was speaking, my mind was working furiously to try to figure out where things could have gone wrong. I can see how the combi of security concerns and a Communion in progress can set up this discouraging consequence for this visitor. As I said, it is a fallible world and even with the best of intentions (indeed SAC is a welcoming community or tries to be), things can fall badly for some.

I have no easy answers except that I know our ushers and security personnel meant well. But we can listen to each and seek to do better so that as a whole, we edify more than stumble. Perhaps, while we are guided by rules and policies, we can apply them with a gentle spirit and always have the needs of the person in mind.

I hope some of you found last Sunday’s satire or story on the bells memorable. The matter of the bells may seem spiritually trivial but this Cathedral is indeed the only one of her kind in Singapore. There are extra heritage responsibilities which we should not neglect.

I am looking forward to the coming Leadership Conference and how more can participate in building up our SAC community and mission together. Pray along with us, and at the right time, we will also share with the wider body our plans for 2018 and our three-year vision (“Vision 2020”).

7 January 2018 | Vicar Writes

Conversations In The Bell Tower On New Years Eve 2017

By Terry Wong


This is a satire of the 8 bells that have been hung in our bell tower for 138 years. Each was named after one of the 12 apostles. Meant originally to be swung rather than struck and probably a full set of 12 instead of 8, cracks in the tower led to uncertainties about the tower’s safety. Church bell experts have advised that the tower is more than able to handle swinging bells and that those cracks were due to uneven movements of the heavily buttressed tower relative to the rest of the Nave. Plans are under way to review this and the Lord willing (and with some generous donations), the bells may finally get to swing and peal away. If you have questions or are interested to help, email bells@cathedral.org.sg

“Happy New Year, all!”

“Same to you, Andrew,” James replied, “But what is there to be happy about?”

“That another year has come?”

“Did you hear them singing ‘Another Year of Dawning’ earlier on?” asked James. “Another year of this, another year of that. For us, it will be another year of sedentary hanging!”

“Adding one more to the 138 years of same same,” said Bartholomew.

“... in this same dingy and humid tower,” quipped Peter. “It gets dustier every year.”

“And we have not even moved an inch! We were meant to swing...” John sighed.

“Let’s vote: in 2018, we shall go on strike!” James snarled.

“James, we have been “striking” for 138 years!” Andrew laughed.

“Andrew, you are the largest of us all and meant for a great swing and ring,” Peter reminded.

“Yes I remember. I was forged in the same foundry as cousin, Susan. I thought I was lucky when they selected me for a Cathedral in the Far East. It sounded exotic. I was to be shipped! Susan was trucked to nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. I thought, how boring. But there she still is, swinging and singing ever since. Sigh…”

“And I thought, there was supposed to be the 12 of us. Where are Philip, Simon, Jude and Matthias?” asked John.

Andrew reminded, “Alas, they thought this tower could neither take our weight or dance. So, they left them behind and they tied us up here. We are to sing only
when struck. There ain’t no dancing. ”

“But, we were made for that!” James retorted. “ I am not so sure now…” quipped Thomas.

“Thomie, if one gets used to living for less, that can quickly become the new norm.”

“Preach it, bro.”

“Think about that. We are adding another year to this ordeal. Can you recall the excitement and fanfare when they first hoisted us up to this tower?” Andrew mused.

“Can you recall how we welcomed the 20th century with twenty rings? It was supposed to be a bright new century!” said James.

“And then the wars came. I can still remember. It was at 4.30 am on 8th December 1941 when the bombs fell. Most of you were asleep but the grounds were shaking. I thought I did move an inch. There was a lot of commotion in the months after that. I have never seen so many soldiers in the Cathedral,” said Peter.

“Yes, I can still remember Lee Kuan Yew’s speech in 1959 and the cries of Merdeka! from the Padang. Those cries came into our tower and echoed around. I think we did resonate,” said James.

“Come to think of it, we have been through four nationalities: British, Japanese, Malayan and now, Singaporean,” said Andrew.

“Jia lat,” moaned Thomas.

“I can recall changes in the music. The Twist, Rock & Roll, Disco, Hip-hop, Gangnam Style and just this week, Zumba! And all we do here is vibrate...” Peter sighed.

“Hmm. Did you see the new Vicar popping up the other day?” Andrew asked.

“You mean that lanky and bellish-shaped guy?” Bartholomew answered. “Did you notice how he was panting? He looked so unfit! At least he paid us a visit.”

“Yeah, right, after more than 2 years,” said Thomas.

“I heard him muttering about making us swing. Maybe, just maybe…” Andrew hoped.

“I doubt,” said Thomas.

“Imagine, if we actually swing for the first time. What will you say?” Andrew asked.

“Swing for Singapore?”
“At last, seeing Singapore from a different angle.”
“Finally, my chance to hit the clapper. Better late than never!”
“Left right, left right.”
“No, front back, front, back.”
“Pealing, nothing more than pealing…”

“What will you say Andrew?”

After a pause, “Finally, the city hears our dance. Thank you Lord, thank you.”

“Happy New Year, all!”

“Same to you, Andrew,” James replied, “But what is there to be happy about?”

“That another year has come?”

“Did you hear them singing ‘Another Year of Dawning’ earlier on?” asked James. “Another year of this, another year of that. For us, it will be another year of sedentary hanging!”

“Adding one more to the 138 years of same same,” said Bartholomew.

“... in this same dingy and humid tower,” quipped Peter. “It gets dustier every year.”

“And we have not even moved an inch! We were meant to swing...” John sighed.

“Let’s vote: in 2018, we shall go on strike!” James snarled.

“James, we have been “striking” for 138 years!” Andrew laughed.

“Andrew, you are the largest of us all and meant for a great swing and ring,” Peter reminded.

“Yes I remember. I was forged in the same foundry as cousin, Susan. I thought I was lucky when they selected me for a Cathedral in the Far East. It sounded exotic. I was to be shipped! Susan was trucked to nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. I thought, how boring. But there she still is, swinging and singing ever since. Sigh…”

“And I thought, there was supposed to be the 12 of us. Where are Philip, Simon, Jude and Matthias?” asked John.

Andrew reminded, “Alas, they thought this tower could neither take our weight or dance. So, they left them behind and they tied us up here. We are to sing only
when struck. There ain’t no dancing. ”

“But, we were made for that!” James retorted. “ I am not so sure now…” quipped Thomas.

“Thomie, if one gets used to living for less, that can quickly become the new norm.”

“Preach it, bro.”

“Think about that. We are adding another year to this ordeal. Can you recall the excitement and fanfare when they first hoisted us up to this tower?” Andrew mused.

“Can you recall how we welcomed the 20th century with twenty rings? It was supposed to be a bright new century!” said James.

“And then the wars came. I can still remember. It was at 4.30 am on 8th December 1941 when the bombs fell. Most of you were asleep but the grounds were shaking. I thought I did move an inch. There was a lot of commotion in the months after that. I have never seen so many soldiers in the Cathedral,” said Peter.

“Yes, I can still remember Lee Kuan Yew’s speech in 1959 and the cries of Merdeka! from the Padang. Those cries came into our tower and echoed around. I think we did resonate,” said James.

“Come to think of it, we have been through four nationalities: British, Japanese, Malayan and now, Singaporean,” said Andrew.

“Jia lat,” moaned Thomas.

“I can recall changes in the music. The Twist, Rock & Roll, Disco, Hip-hop, Gangnam Style and just this week, Zumba! And all we do here is vibrate...” Peter sighed.

“Hmm. Did you see the new Vicar popping up the other day?” Andrew asked.

“You mean that lanky and bellish-shaped guy?” Bartholomew answered. “Did you notice how he was panting? He looked so unfit! At least he paid us a visit.”

“Yeah, right, after more than 2 years,” said Thomas.

“I heard him muttering about making us swing. Maybe, just maybe…” Andrew hoped.

“I doubt,” said Thomas.

“Imagine, if we actually swing for the first time. What will you say?” Andrew asked.

“Swing for Singapore?”
“At last, seeing Singapore from a different angle.”
“Finally, my chance to hit the clapper. Better late than never!”
“Left right, left right.”
“No, front back, front, back.”
“Pealing, nothing more than pealing…”

“What will you say Andrew?”

After a pause, “Finally, the city hears our dance. Thank you Lord, thank you.”

This is a satire of the 8 bells that have been hung in our bell tower for 138 years. Each was named after one of the 12 apostles. Meant originally to be swung rather than struck and probably a full set of 12 instead of 8, cracks in the tower led to uncertainties about the tower’s safety. Church bell experts have advised that the tower is more than able to handle swinging bells and that those cracks were due to uneven movements of the heavily buttressed tower relative to the rest of the Nave. Plans are under way to review this and the Lord willing (and with some generous donations), the bells may finally get to swing and peal away.

If you have questions or are interested to help, email bells@cathedral.org.sg

ABOUT THE VICAR

Terry Wong Photo

Revd Canon Terry Wong is the Vicar of the Cathedral. He writes weekly for the weekend Service bulletins and the articles are posted on this site.