The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. (John 3:8)
There’s a wind a-blowin’, all across the land
A fragrant breeze of Heaven, Blowin’ once again
Don’t know where it comes from, Don’t know where it goes
But let it blow over me
Oh, sweet wind, come and blow over me
David Ruis’ song captured the imagination of many in the 90’s. Living in a highly technological world where we seek better control all the time, there is a work of the Lord that is mysterious, often unpredictable and catches us by surprise.
Being an avid student of the church in her rich 2,000 years of history, I have become more aware of the modern influences which have reduced Christianity to a “bobble head”, where faith has become nothing more than just cerebral ideas and concepts. I was at a renowned evangelical church when I was in Toronto for my Sabbatical. The passage was Acts 2 and I was flabbergasted to hear the preacher reducing the work of the Spirit to just “reading the Bible.” There was a short Q & A and some clarification was sought and it was obvious to many that there was terrible exegesis done that morning. But the denominational line has to be toed. In my 40 years of Christian living , I have never heard Acts 2 treated this way. God was reduced to printed words, literally and even in that, He can be found only in the right Bible versions. It was a form of Christian agnosticism.
With that I turn to a significant start and launch this weekend (not my cookbook!): that of the eleven:30 Service. In the first few months of my ministry in the Cathedral as a Vicar, I was approached again and again to do something for the “dechurched”: youths, our sons and daughters who have either left the church or the faith. Bishop Kuan had alerted me that this is one of the priority areas which I need to look into as a new Vicar. Apparently, the Cathedral is not a relevant place for the young and if they want to grow or be community-connected, they should find it elsewhere. That begun a few weeks of praying and sensing: O Lord, what can we do?
When I was at the CITY Leaders retreat, the Lord dropped a word in my heart, “If the young in the Cathedral are important, why is the work reduced to the fringe? Why don’t they have a primetime slot?” In any discussion of a possible new Service, only slots outside of Sunday morning could be considered because “it is full everywhere.”
And so we turned our focus to the perimeter facilities around the Cathedral. Is there a suitable Hall which is walking-distance from SAC? Yes, there are but we have to be prepared to pay. And even then, we needed to be prepared to live with inconvenience as it meant that we would have to set up and repack after every Service. While we were in the midst of searching , we realised that the Prayer Hall was actually available, that is, if we can find alternative space for the Sunday School groups meeting there.
That was what we did. To make the space suitable for a Service, like a blank canvas, we could renovate this Hall from ground up. We might as well invest in doing so, and the same Hall can be used of course for many other meetings throughout the week. So, the venue is secured. Hallelujah.
The next step was to build a leadership team and core group. How can we bring young people together when we have had such a chequered experience in the past? Furthermore, various groupings of youths and young adults have sprouted. Building a common vision will not be easy.
And so, the preparation needed to include a gathering of the core community who will serve in and anchor this service. Ably led by Pastor Hali and a very dedicated and prayerful staff team, we have seen the “wind a-blowin’.” Service Pastors have been very encouraging too and did what they could to support it. As the Service launches this week and we remember St Andrew’s Day, the core team has indeed done what they could. From here, we will continue to work and serve to build up this Service but always mindful of the presence and work of the Lord. And more than just a Service which gathers at eleven:30, it signals one more frontier for ministry to reach the unchurched.
Not every young person or young adult needs to be at this Service. Many are comfortable worshipping and serving in the other Services. Please continue. The task of this new Service is to reach out, especially using the Alpha Course-Service combination, to those who are out there.
It’s exciting. Pray with us and may the wind of the Spirit continue to blow.