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All 2018 October Vicar Writes

28 October 2018 | Vicar Writes

Pray Engage Gather

By Terry Wong

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.  John 1:41,42

This week, the Senior Staff Team is setting aside two days for planning. With the coming Celebration of Hope rallies (COH) in May next year, we are having a different take to the shape of this period. We want to work out the details of the three PEG cycles.

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PEG stands for Pray, Engage and Gather.

Pray. We start by praying for those with whom we want to share the Gospel. This person can be a family member, a friend, a colleague, an acquaintance or even a stranger.  We pray regularly for him or her. Praying also clarifies our motives. It is not about meeting a “target” or trying to “win” a person for Christ. It is not a numbers game or to convert a person to our side. It is about giving this person an opportunity to meet Jesus (see John 1:41,42). As we pray, may the Spirit fill our hearts with God's love for those around us.

Engage. Our prayerful desire moves into loving action as we seek to engage or connect with others. It can be an invitation to meet up for a chat over a meal, attend a concert, a birthday or Christmas party. Or pausing to listen and show some care. Every friend and acquaintance is a precious gift in life. You are not an insurance agent seeking to sell a product. I cannot think of anything that can be as effective a friendship-killer as harbouring an ulterior motive in wanting to know a person. It chills the air when the person suddenly realises it. If the friendship is genuine and longterm, trust me, there will be many God-given opportunities to share the love of Christ in word and deed. However, not everyone you are engaging with needs to be “your friend.” Don’t freak out your security guard or your subordinate across the office. If your behaviour has been Christian (i.e you have not been rude and dismissive but caring and warm), your invitation will be appreciated even if some were to refuse it politely. I shouldn’t be telling you this! Any person should intuitively know that there are many ways to be authentic and bless the people around us.

Gather. Here is where the Church is assisting you. We are organising Christmas@Home by encouraging Connect Groups to host Christmas parties. It may have been a while since your group has welcomed guests into the home. And nothing will be as natural as a Christmas party. I once talked with an unbeliever who attended a Christmas event in church. He said it was his first time. I asked him why it took him so long. He said, "No one invited.” I think you get the point. Then, there is Alpha Everywhere starting in early 2019. SAC will be levelling up and will add one if not two lunchtime Alpha Courses to our regular Wednesday evening run. SAC will provide a warm and welcoming venue, good food and drinks and screen the Alpha Film Series. It is for you to gather your friends/colleagues and help form a small group comprising hosts and guests. Talk. Eat. Watch. Discuss. Go back to office. Easy enough? And of course, lastly, from March 2019 onwards, we will focus sharply on the COH stadium events. More will be said at the right time.

Pray. Engage. Gather. Peg, peg and peg again. May these three cycles help us to be an Andrew to those around us.

21 October 2018 | Vicar Writes

Just One

By Terry Wong

I am doing something unusual today. I want to share with you a few years’ statistics of our services’ weekly attendance which was shown at our recent Chapter Meeting.

Our Chapter, PCC and Staff do monitor the trends of services’ attendance and givings from time to time. We are not enamoured of statistics and neither do we run the church "by figures.” However the trends do tell us something about what has been going on. One can reflect on these trends and come to understand a bit more the various dynamics affecting our church growth and life. I can imagine that our discussions can get very interesting as we imagine what the reasons could be behind the trends.

Whatever the statistics and trends may be, as a church, we need to endeavour to remain caring, personal and relational as a church community. You will recall the article where I reflected on the parables of the lost coin, sheep and son in Luke 15 “Don't Ask Why".

The point must not be missed - it was just one. We may watch the trends and statistics occasionally, but we need to watch the “one” constantly. And even if our friends fail us, we are reminded of God our Father who cares for each of us. As Jesus said in Luke 12:7: "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Seated in the service this morning, take some time to get to know someone who may be a stranger to you. We come closest to His heart when we show attention and love to someone created in His image.

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14 October 2018 | Vicar Writes

The Glory of God is at Stake

By Terry Wong

Last Sunday, PraySingapore was held on the weekend of Children's Day to celebrate families as building blocks of our society and to dedicate the next generation. Many married couples renewed their marriage vows. We also repented over our society’s widespread practice and tolerance of abortions.

It wasn’t an evening of finger-pointing. The church searched her own heart as we repented of our indifference, hypocrisy and lack of passion for the glory of God.

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Courtesy of Thir.st

The event also focused our hearts on the Celebration of Hope (COH) evangelistic events next May in the same venue. We saw a very inspiring 1978 video of Billy Graham’s Rally at our National Stadium and the way Singaporeans responded during the altar call. Our bishop called on Christians to pray for opportunities to proclaim the good news to their friends and family in order to transform their homeland. Along with other pastors in Singapore, he believes that God is orchestrating a season in which “many people are going to find their way back to God through Jesus Christ”.

“We’re praying that every Christian in every church will arise and share the good news of Jesus, personally, with relatives, friends and acquaintances, so that they may know Him in whom alone is life,” he said. However, believers should not just view the event as merely just another evangelistic rally, but a “vital step in God’s process of revival” in Singapore. “People of God, we need revival. We need revival because the ground is hard, dark and opposing forces are many. And most important of all, the glory of God is at stake,” he said.

“Another reason we need a revival is there is a lack of righteousness in the land,” said the Bishop. Issues such as divorce, abortion, gender confusion, sexual brokenness, gambling and other vices permeate the culture, he said.

“It paints a picture of how much we must cry out for God to come upon the land. Only God can change the conduct and ethical life of the people here and bring them to saving faith in Christ." Christians in Singapore must acknowledge their brokenness and the fractures in the local body of Christ, and to pray for churches and organisations to work together “with one heart and mind for the harvest” and for God to lead them to spiritual victory.

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Courtesy of Thir.st

“The single most important factor for revival – God’s revival – is prayer,” said Bishop Ponniah. “Let it be believing prayer, in a mighty God, whose love knows no bounds. Let it be beseeching prayer – we beg God and we don’t let go until it happens And let it be body-of-Christ prayer. Whether it’s in twos or threes, in your churches, or in gatherings such as these. Let us have beseeching prayer, that His glory may be seen in this mighty harvest.”

Bishop closed quoting Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears will surely reap with shouts of joy.” If we are willing to sacrifice, pray passionately and work hard, we will see joyful results.

Our Cathedral will be fully engaged with Celebration of Hope. We will be holding prayer gatherings monthly, where Christians from other churches will be participating as well. We will be having three cycles of opportunities to share the Gospel: Christmas Outreach through our Connect groups in December, the Alpha Courses starting in February and from March onwards, preparations for COH.

The Cathedral community is also asked to support the Sunday 10.30am rally through ushering and this will be another opportunity to serve. In November, we will be sharing more details across our services.

Meanwhile, I ask that each of us pray and focus on the spiritual priorities before us, out of love for the Lord, His Church and our nation. It is through prayer that we keep a firmer grip or “traction” on this vision, ensuring that we are not “distracted" through pre-occupation with the worries and cares of life (or even church ministry or community matters). It is a common vision for His glory which will help to keep the cathedral strong and united, and where we do not allow differences to take centre stage. The words of our Lord in Matthew 6:33, to "seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added onto you” can be applied to Cathedral life. When we put first things first, other issues will find their own solutions and fit.

Note: Some excerpts of Bishop’s message were taken from a report of the Pray Singapore event at http://saltandlight.sg/news/the-glory-of-god-is-at-stake-declares-bishop-rennis-ponniah-at-praysingapore/

7 October 2018 | Vicar Writes

Choose from Among You

By Terry Wong

For the first time since I became the Vicar here, Bishop has posted a clergy to serve with us. We warmly welcome Revd Joshua Raj Sundaraj, his wife Santhi and their children, Joseph, Faith and Joy. There is intention some time next year to start a Tamil-speaking Service in SAC. Revd Joshua is effectively bilingual and I am sure he will be a pastoral blessing to our English-speaking community too.

As I have shared with PCC and my staff, as a “Mother Church”, we should endeavour to raise new clergy, deaconesses and pastors from our community. This is the answer I sometimes give when members ask me why I am not asking Bishop to post more clergy here. The pool of clergy is always limited, especially with missions needs as well in our six deaneries. Our gain here is a loss somewhere else. Likewise, when I served for 14 years in St James’ Church, I have not asked for someone to be sent in either. Instead very prayerfully, we pipelined potential pastors, clergy ordinands and missionaries for future needs, starting them off either in practical ministry as parish workers or going straight into biblical or theological training.

A clergy or pastor is shaped in community. These “proofing" and preparation processes take years.  Sometimes people think that whether a person should be ordained is solely Bishop’s choice. In our diocese, the process begins much earlier. The ordinands are often “bubbled up” through the life of the parish or offered by the parish community. The “bubbling up” process is a wonderful one, as a potential clergy discovers his calling through humble serving and being intertwined with a community, who will affirm his calling eventually. The disciples exhorted the early Christian community (Acts 6:3) “Choose from among you." Even as I speak, we already have in training or planning, those who have sensed this ministry calling. Some will eventually serve here or posted to serve elsewhere in other parts of the Anglican family.

In October, we hope to help our Cathedral community to be more aware of some of our community services and ministries. The Cathedral herself is directly involved via CITY Community Services which runs student care and befrienders club programmes in neighbourhood schools. We also run the Home for the Aged where we care for “homeless" seniors. We also cross cultures with our Befriending Migrant Workers ministry (BMW) and our Project Khmer H.O.P.E. This weekend, Ds Bessie Lee will be drawing attention to these. As always, we will need manpower and financial resources. If you like to help, please contact Pat Aw (pataw@citycomm.org.sg, CITY) or Adeline Hee at adelinehee@cathedral.org.sg (for BMW, PKH).

On the second weekend, we celebrate our Diocesan flagship medical work through the work of Singapore Anglican Community Services and St Andrew’s Mission Hospital (SACS/SAMH). We also want to draw attention to issues of mental health. Both Revd Gilbert Wong and Archdeacon Wong Tak Meng will be speaking at our Services. They are both familiar with hospital chaplaincy work and able to speak on how Christians can be more involved in these areas of care-giving and healing. A good number from our Cathedral community are already involved in SACS/SAMH as workers or volunteers.

On the third weekend, we will be observing Diocesan Healthcare Sunday. This is an annual event where we remember and honour our healthcare workers. And on the fourth, we are inviting the Director of Prisons Fellowship of Singapore, Andrew Tay to speak at our Nave morning Services. How much can the Cathedral community help ex-offenders who are willing to change? We will see.

Today (Sunday), we will be joining the PraySingapore event at the SportsHub. May it inspire many of us to pray “unceasingly” for His destiny to be fulfilled through this city-nation.


Recent Vicar Writes

21 Oct |

Just One

14 Oct |

The Glory of God is at Stake

07 Oct |

Choose from Among You