Vicar Writes


All 2018 February Vicar Writes

25 Feb 2018

It has often been said that the Cathedral is a Mother Church and a City Church. Due to her historic nature, her central and strategic location, the sprawling nature of her buildings and grounds, her role can be clearly seen. After all, the bishops and clergy meet here every week, and significant diocesan or national events are held here.

That said, we want to focus here on the Cathedral Community. This will be about spiritual influence, not historical or locational. In past years, SAC has been instrumental in planting new congregations across the city. She has also given generously to church building projects, especially in our deaneries.

In this new season, what does the Lord seek to do in and through us? This is a question for us to pray over and certainly something I have been doing since joining the Cathedral in 2016.

In 2018, can we pray over our role in helping parishes to develop, such as the Lat Krabang Anglican Church in Bangkok? Closer home, we are also reviewing how we can help our own church plants (i.e. Acts Centre) to have a firmer footing. Are there new fronts locally or in the deaneries which we should consider? What is important is to see our church planting efforts as an “overflow” of the spiritual and missional life of the SAC community, and not just the work of a few individuals.

This means that SAC needs to go beyond initial evangelism and engage in nursing the new congregation to full maturity. Here is where the maturity of ministries in SAC herself becomes important. It is very much in the spirit of Anglican missions to raise a parish community within a society for long-term influence. Here is where many parts of SAC can eventually play a part as many ministries can be involved if our longterm goal is to help a congregation to grow into a mature parish. We can think of the choir, Alpha teams, Connect groups ministry team, medical missions and even our cafe team! Everyone can be missional in their service.  

We will also have a responsibility to fulfil our heritage role over properties which are uniquely the Cathedral’s. It is a part of our Christian witness to be seen as responsible and having a sense of excellence. Society expects this of us and indeed, we are located centrally and visibly, right at the heart of this modern city.

We have sufficient diversity in skills, expertise and passion in our congregation to ensure that every part of the Cathedral can rise up to our varied responsibilities. As a clergy, I need to focus on the ministry of the Word and prayer. But at the same time, I need to permit and empower those who are able to carry out the work. Areas like our pipe organ, building facade, the quality of our tours, the bells, gathering, the displaying and storing of artefacts and the communications ministry, just to name a few, all have to be done well as an integral part of our community witness. In particular, the PCC is charged with assisting the Vicar in the care of “temporal” responsibilities and we will work together to ensure that we continue to do what we ought to do. 

18 Feb 2018
jiā tíng (Family / Home)

Almost every culture or race has a festival where family, identity and culture are celebrated. For many Chinese, it will be the Chinese New Year (CNY) festival.

In most years, CNY sits uncomfortably with Lent. Feasting and fasting, noise and silence, gathering and coming away, the contrast cannot be more stark, and the Chinese Christian has to juggle between both. For many, observation of Lent starts later, afforded by a longer 40 day period. Having received the mark of ash, in the next few days he will be enjoying delectable feasts with his family. Hymns will give way to “Gong Xi, Gong Xi Ni…” CNY songs have always helped set the atmosphere through blaring Rediffusions of yesteryears  and today, through CNY programmes on flat-screen TVs.

In modern and urbanised Singapore, the concept of celebration as a village and clan is largely lost. Added to that, there is no noisy firing of crackers or fireworks to gather the village. And so, all across the city, in countless little huddles in HDB flats, mostly behind closed doors, the homing magnet gathers ties that bind.

The Reunion Dinner on CNY Eve is the most important gathering for most families. On the table will be dishes which carry the family tradition, may it be Nonya, Hakka or Hokkien. Therefore, home cooking is preferred, if at all possible.

No matter how strained family ties are, families still try to gather, and there is an unspoken forgiveness or a staying of grievances. As conversations flow, we remember that family is a given and a gift. Whatever or whoever, we ought to receive it with gratitude. Going beyond a truce, some mending may actually happen.

For a few days, work is set aside as the home becomes center stage. It has been a while since one stood at the balcony and looked at his neighbourhood. Or sat long enough on the sofa to be reminded of the special role of the living room in gathering the family. The ambitious readjust their perspective. After all, the home is a graveyard of ambition. As a proud father watches his children, the unquenchable desire for public honour recedes into the background. Problems at work are temporarily forgotten.

The second day will be about visiting relatives, and on the third day, close friends. For those who come from broken families, the reunion night can cruelly open some old wounds. I don’t think those wounds can be healed completely on this side of life. But CNY celebration stretches long enough to remind one that close and faithful friends are still some of the good gifts of life.

Indeed, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” James 1:17

As Christians, we can be grateful for the many gifts He has bestowed on us through our culture, family and friends. And most of all, the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, who has called us into His family.

11 Feb 2018

Lent starts with Ash Wednesday Service this week. Like the calm before the storm of Chinese New Year Weekend(!), we have an opportunity to orientate our hearts towards the 40-day Season of Lent.

What we can also look forward to is the Lent Mid-day Prayers from 12.30 pm to 1.00 pm during the weekdays. We are blessed with a wonderful Nave which is a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. Tourists also visit her daily. To be able to hear the Scriptures, read and pray together for our city in the Nave is a privilege. Some may choose to fast while others can grab a quick lunch after that. The prayer time will be quietly led from the front and the approach will be meditative, where participants can have their quiet space to seek the Lord. It is good to just “come away.”

As Jesus once told his disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)   

As a Year of Prayer in 2018, we have also broken it up into four quarters which we hope will be helpful in guiding our participation. This will also help us to focus our teaching and preaching.  

January - March : Personal Prayer
We will encourage and help members to observe their daily Devotion. We launch the Lent Mid-Day prayer on 14 February, and the first Prayer and Praise for the year on 23 February.

April - June: Praying Together
We continue to focus on Prayer & Praise, Prayer during our Service Camps, and will organise our first Prayer Retreat

July - Sept: Praying for our Nation
We will pray for our Nation during the 40-day run-up from 1 July till our National Day on 9 August. We will do this through the 40-day City@Prayer from 12.30 to 1.30 pm in the Nave and the three Solemn Assemblies in the evenings of 5-7 August.

October - December: Praying for the Harvest
We begin to build up our prayer and preparation for the evangelistic Celebration of Hope from 17-19 May 2019 at the Singapore National Stadium. The Diocesan Day of Prayer and Fast will fall on 3 November 2018.

With the new season of Alpha Course starting, do pray for people to invite. Daily, we are presented with opportunities as we meet our family, friends, colleagues, classmates and acquaintances. Even the strangers we meet can be a fresh opportunity. As always, it is genuine care and interest in an individual which opens up the door for the Gospel. If you set out to convert a person, that puts you in the category of a salesman, who is befriending someone with ulterior motives. None of us like people like these to bug us. But if we are authentic and genuinely care for the people around us, doors will open naturally. We have a great message to share and a gift to offer. Friendship first!

4 Feb 2018

What does it mean to be a people after God’s heart? The answer can be found in Acts 13:22: "I have found in David...a man after my heart, who will do all my will."

That is also embodied in the Lord’s Prayer: "Let Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." As we anticipate 2019, the 200th year of the founding of modern Singapore; we continue to pray for His will to be done in and through our city-nation. This prayer is also captured in one of our theme songs, “Amen.” How do we know the will of God? This comes to us mostly through His revealed Word. In each generation, the Church also seeks to discern its application and voice in an ever-changing world.

But how can we discern His will in the daily affairs of our lives? Romans 12:1, 2 is helpful, with my own comments in brackets:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (whole being) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (city, family, sub-culture values), but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing (we will make mistakes!) you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Often wisdom and discernment come to those who learn to pray, seek His Face and immerse themselves in His Word. When we pursue intimacy with Him on a personal and daily basis, we cultivate and strengthen our love for Him (1 John 2:15). As we get intimate with and follow Christ, fruitfulness is the result (John 15:5).

When we have an appetite for prayer and seeking His face, joining others to do so in prayer gatherings will become natural and desirable.

Some of the steps to be taken this year:

  1. We will encourage each other to seek the Lord and read His Word daily. The daily lectionary readings can be accessed from the SAC App. Some may also want to sign up for Bible in One Year, which is written by Revd Nicky Gumbel and his team (
  2. We will be organising quarterly prayer retreats to teach and guide members who are seeking to rediscover or enrich their prayer and devotional lives.
  3. We will commit ourselves to the monthly Prayer and Praise (next meeting on 23 February).
  4. We will participate in the Year of Prayer events organised by Love Singapore and the Diocese.