Vicar Writes

Vicar Writes

ABOUT THE VICAR

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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.

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2 July 2017

Learning to Bless One Another

By Terry Wong

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up...” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We had a blessed time at the Cathedral Family Camp in June, where 200+ members gathered for 3 days of learning, worship and fellowship. We were blessed by the ministry of Wee Hian, his son, Andrew and Andrew’s son, Benjamin. It was apt for the theme “Living a Legacy”.  

We were challenged in many ways, including the need to learn to embrace the principle of blessing and encouragement. It is true that in a perfectionist city like Singapore, there is an unspoken tension of not just striving for excellence, but a daily avoidance of mistakes, imperfections and weakness. A psychiatrist told me that many Singaporeans are struggling with not so much OCD, as in Obsessive Compulsive Diosorder but OCP, the last word being Perfectionism. We walk around with hearts like tightly wound-up springs ready to explode at the slightest agitation. 

I will be the first to admit that I sometimes exhibit OCP symptoms in my leadership. I can be quick to point out errors, ungracious and discouraging to my fellow leaders, something which I need to constantly apologise for. Email communication is often an avenue which reflects our inner unpaused thoughts. I write and speak in a way which I often regret. 

I sometimes wonder whether the mixture of our own Asian migrant survival instincts, Singaporean values and a high-morality based evangelical Christianity has produced a certain approach to life here. It is no wonder that churches that preach strongly on grace are attracting so many as it offers a needed alternative, even if many regard their teachings as unorthodox Christianity. But I challenge us to reflect deeper on Scripture and our society and ask the right questions. It may be that churches that claim to be orthodox are in need of change themselves.

In fact the Oxley Road saga has made me ponder on these thoughts as well, if you were to reflect deeper on it. The way we are, as in the culture we grew up in is not changed in a day. But we can be more intentional in looking at His Word and if discipleship is change, seek to change in this area, even if slowly. Here is where as a Church community, we can help each other. If we are to be salt and light for the city, that should be about contributing a deep value change in our society. They need to hear the Gospel, and that is correct. But the true Gospel changes. And it blesses.

Perhaps one place to start living the principle of blessing is to gather to praise and pray. The Cathedral is more than just an Anglican Institution. As many have said, it is a ‘National Church’. That is one way of saying that it belongs to the Body of Christ. It is indeed a right thing that we are opening it daily for Christians to gather to pray for our nation in this 40 day period from 1st July to 9th August, from Monday to Friday 12.30pm to 1.30pm. Don’t come because you want to please someone or live up to the expectations of others. But do it out of joy for the Lord. Embracing the daily discipline of prayer and worship is something you will not regret, an ancient gift which God has given to His people that they may live life to its abundance. 

Prayer is one activity which nourishes and gives us energy for life. Indeed, we do not live on bread alone.