In Our Church Lord, Be Glorified

In Our Church Lord, Be Glorified

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All 2018 May Vicar Writes

27 May 2018 | Vicar Writes

In Our Church Lord, Be Glorified

By Terry Wong

 

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed
you would see the glory of God?”
  John 11:40

 

I was at the Leadership Conference hosted by Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur during the first part of the week. It is unique in capturing the contemporary cultural milieu of global cities and very much in touch with how the Christian faith is lived out in the world.
 
We heard stories from advocates of justice for the poor and helpless, a journalist serving in war zones, the pioneer-owner of Grab, governmental advisors and so on. They share about how their faith motivates and affects the way they work.
 
It is also a reminder that we need to continue to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as we will never know who will be open to it and how it will impact their lives and work. As a pastor, I am also reminded of the role of the church to “equip the saints” for ministry. The real action is not within the four walls of the church. It is out there. The church needs to continue to be a rich community of faith, love and support. I saw a good number of Anglican clergy in this Conference and I am sure our hearts and minds have been stretched.
 
It is not about copying methods but capturing values. We have a range of services and ministries here in SAC. We have chosen the path of accommodating a spectrum of worship styles. The challenge for us is to have these rooted in deep Scriptural values and to have a  quest for excellence in everything we do. We pray that every Service, ministry and connect group will seek to glorify God and pursue His heart in everything we do.
 
SAC is a unique Cathedral and parish. In each generation, we seek to fulfil our calling and destiny. This is something which each of you can contribute to.
 
Vision 2020 will set the direction for us in these three years. I have written about this in the Courier. Do read and sense what the Lord is saying. These three years will also be a season of building expansion. We need to be good stewards of the space, land and facilities entrusted to us, and translate these into ministry and worship use. We are not only meeting current needs but building for future generations. We are thinking of a Cathedral which our children can be inspired to love and serve in.
 
But building is not just about brick and mortar. Building a Christ-centred and God-glorifying community takes time. And this is where I want to urge each of us to pray and constantly seek first His Kingdom in the way we relate to each other or in the way we make decisions which will affect the destiny of our lives, ministries or that of the Church. Each decision made and value experienced which is Christlike moves the Cathedral forward in the right direction.  
 
Brick by brick, step by step, prayer by prayer, hymn by hymn. We patiently and faithfully serve as co-workers with the Lord to build His Church. May each generation experience and see His glory.
 
As we have sung in the old hymn, “In our Church Lord, be glorified.”

18 May 2018 | Vicar Writes

Pentecost Existed Before Pentecost

By Terry Wong

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all gathered in one place. Acts 2:1

The Jews had always been celebrating the Feast of Pentecost. Traditionally it was a mid-summer feast, marking the end of the barley harvest. In the time of Jesus, the feast celebrated the giving of the law and the covenant at Mt Sinai. It commemorated the events in Exodus 19-20. According to the Scriptures, the law was given fifty days after the Passover. As a text from the Hebrew liturgy of Shauoth says, “This day ofthe Feast of Weeks is the time of the gift of Torah.”

Pentecost is associated with the history of salvation (God’s work in our history in providing salvation). Just as at Mt Sinai, the people became a kingdom of priests through the law, in the new Pentecost, the people became a people of God, a Church, through the giving of the Spirit. The OT promises came to pass e.g. “I will write it in their hearts...” (Jer 31:33), “A new heart I will give you...,” “a new spirit I will put within you...” (Ezek 36:26-27). Paul said the same, “The law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ has set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

If this is understood, then properly speaking, Pentecost is Salvation Day! Peter stood up and gave an evangelistic message. It is not just a day to celebrate the gifts or revealed/experienced power of the Spirit, butthe birth and work of the Church.

Having understood this, we also need to be reminded of how mission became the first and immediate fruit of the birth of the church. And indeed, how central the work and power of the Spirit is to all this! It is when the Spirit is working in our hearts and lives, that there is a ‘life’ to share. The Apostles were instructed by Jesus Himself and witnessed His death, resurrection and ascension. However, it was only after the Spirit came on them that they were able to do what the church is called to do.

What should our posture be? Just as the disciples were praying, we need to do likewise. Praying may seem such an ‘inactive activity,’ and yet it is always a prelude to some significant work of God in our lives. Just as the disciples were patiently waiting, likewise we should learn to wait for the promises of God to unfold. Just as the disciples were boldly proclaiming (in

tongues, in words), likewise we should not be afraid to step out and exercise our faith. As some have noted, the gifts of the Spirit

were never meant to be domesticated, but to be used for witness.

This will be needed in this season of prayer and evangelism (leading up to Celebration of Hope in 2019). This is the posture we will need to have as we enter into the season of “Solemn Assemblies” from 1 July to 8 August, 2018.

We welcome Bishop Kuan Kim Seng to our Confirmation Service at 9am. He is officially retiring in June but as long as the Lord gives him good health, we know that he will continue to serve the Lord. We also welcome Revd Chua Wee Hian and Archbishop Ben Kwashi (Jos Diocese, Nigeria) to our Services.

We rejoice at Revd Hambali Leonardi’s ordination to the diaconate last Sunday. He will join the 8 am clergy team and will continue to serve as Service Pastor of the eleven:30 Service.

13 May 2018 | Vicar Writes

“The Cathedral Is Not Important…”

By Terry Wong

There is something about evangelism - sharing the gospel with another - which touches the core of our faith. I thought Pastor Daniel Ho did that when he spoke at three of our Services last Sunday. Somehow, we were brought back to something that is basic, primal and “home.”

As I look back at my own life, those moments when I led a person to Christ felt like I have touched heaven.

On many occasions, Jesus Himself asks us to share the gospel. It was the first thing the early Christians did when the Holy Spirit filled them: they worshipped and witnessed. Worship is witness. Worship is often done in public because when we worship, we are witnessing about His goodness to others. Jesus has said that if we do not worship-witness, the very stones will cry out! If we can only worship within the confines of the church but not in the world, then we need to re-examine our faith.

We cannot share something we do not have or be a witness to something we have not experienced. The authenticity of our faith comes to the fore when we are sharing the gospel. The reverse is also true: we may not be sharing our faith if we are not walking in it.

If as a church, we are not concerned about the Gospel, we will miss the very heart of why the Church exists. We may do missions activities or feed the poor. But if the gospel is never preached, and the salvation of others not longed for, we will have missed the mark.

I had an unforgettable meeting with Canon J. John on a hot afternoon in 2016, soon after I became Vicar of the Cathedral. It sounded like a chance meeting but I believe it was a divine appointment. He said, “Terry, the Cathedral is not important. Forget about her. Instead, focus on the Gospel. Give top priority to it.” It came from someone who is twice a canon and an adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury on evangelism.

I got what he was trying to say. The glory of the church is about her Lord. And it is Him whom we are constantly worshipping and testifying to. The gothic building, the location, our rich history and heritage may be important and have their place. However, it is the good news we carry which is far more important. We should not confuse the content with the packaging. St Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay…"

I believe that the Celebration of Hope (COH - 17-19th May 2019), like previous national initiatives, has the potential to call the church back to her first love. I find it providential and amazing that it is the same J. John who will be the main rally speaker at these COH events. When he said those words two years ago, he had no idea that one day, the Lord will task him to lead a Mission which will involve the Cathedral.

The Cathedral has one monthly meeting which meets at an unusual time: 7.14 pm. It serves to remind us of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If My people, who are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Pause and read this carefully. Hear the message afresh. This promise is rich in meaning and I will unpack it on another occasion. But last Sunday, the organ played a prelude during the communion of a music popular in the Church in the mid-70’s which was written for this verse. I actually woke up this morning with this tune in my head.

“If My people…” This is what our Father is saying.

6 May 2018 | Vicar Writes

Thanksgiving and Prayer

By Terry Wong

We had another wonderful time at the monthly Prayer and Praise last Friday. Let's continue to encourage each other to seek the Lord and be prayerful. Many are serving in various areas of ministries. It is a good sign that those who are serving are praying together. Prayer binds hearts together as we recognise His Lordship in our midst. As a Vicar, I am keenly aware that my ministry is sustained and guided in daily prayer.

The turnout at the AGM last Sunday was very encouraging. There are some indicators of growth and I present some statistics that were shown at the meeting.

Thank you for being present. Thank you for your faithful support, service and giving which have enabled the Cathedral to fulfil her calling.

A new PCC has also been elected. I want to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing members — Low Chung Guan, Samantha Lee, Sarah Liew and Esther Yee — for serving with us. Much was shared at the AGM.

There is a destiny that the Lord has for the Cathedral when the idea of a church in this part of the city was first thought of by Sir Stamford Raffles. That destiny is being lived out and is still unfolding constantly as we “pursue the Heart of the Father” in alignment with what is in His heart. It is not about doing the right activities, but having the right focus. As I mentioned during the Leaders' Conference in 2016, it is about returning to our first love. When the Church in Ephesus was warned in Revelation 2:4 about losing one's first love, in Greek it meant a “shift in focus.” It is terribly easy to turn our eyes from the Lord even as we continue serving. It is our personal prayer in our life and walk with Him which will help us to re-centre. Needless to say, if we are living in sin, that will stand in the way and will continue to cloud our vision and heart attitudes.

Our hearts need to be continually broken before Him. Revival in our church and city will need to start with personal revival.

We are looking forward to the 40 day season of prayer (1st July to 8th August) along with the rest of our Diocese and the wider Body of Christ. I am looking forward to a focused season of prayer and fasting for the destiny of our nation. Do prepare to join in. Passion often grows from discipline and commitment. May each of us discover or rediscover a new love for the Lord and a life centred on “seeking first His Kingdom."

The 7am and 5pm Services concluded a wonderful Camp recently. We have four more Service Camps to go! Each represents a pocket of community where the Cathedral is small enough for unhurried personal interaction and I am glad for the opportunity to do so with some participants. The organising teams have tried to keep the costs low. We will seek to do our best to help those who really want to participate but lack the financial means. I believe each Camp will be a “divine appointment” and there will be both small and great blessings from each.

We welcome Pastor Daniel Ho to our 8am, 9am and 11.15am Services today. He is the founding pastor of Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya. He has since retired and is currently giving priority to training church leaders and doing ministry in the marketplace. He has a passion for evangelism and a heart to see revival in the Church. Do welcome him and open our hearts to his ministry.