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23 October 2016 | Vicar Writes

Of The One Who Is In Control

By Terry Wong

Someone thanked me recently for allowing a room in SAC to be used by their prayer group. I just stared blankly at him and said, “Most welcome!” I should have added, “I am not aware of that. After all, I am just the Vicar!”

Indeed much is happening in SAC every week which few of us can keep up with. This also happens to be an unusually busy period of the year, at least for me. I had just spent a week in Cairo and as always, work at home awaits with vengeance.  

We had a wonderful group of overseas clergy on Sabbatical here. As that is coming to an end, I thought I should host them to a BBQ at my place. And so, my day-off on Monday was spent preparing for that. It was a meaningful evening.

This week I have to serve as a resident chaplain at the Ministry Preparation Retreat for ordinands (a few preparing and being examined for the ordained ministry). I have always been actively involved in  this. But sometimes I forget that my life these days as a Vicar of the Cathedral is giving me less room to manoeuvre.

A sermon at the end of the week awaits at Church of the Good Shepherd (COGS). COGS is in the midst of fund-raising for a new building and they thought that my experience in my previous parish could encourage them. I shall share with them the three keys to fund raising - prayer, prayer and prayer! Sometimes we attribute success to ourselves but really, we just happen to be blessed and by His design, happen to be at the right place at the right time.

So, back to the role of the Vicar. We imagine him to be the captain of a huge ship. He is at the bridge, majestically in command of every detail, with sounds and lights to alert him, a team of officers at his beck and call, buttons to press and levers to pull. At every instance, he knows what has happened, is happening and can anticipate what’s coming. No happenstance in the ship is without his commandeering.

Pause. Little of this is true with the supposedly “captain-in-chief” of the Cathedral ship. However, this can be said of the Chief Shepherd of the sheep (see 1 Peter 5:4 - now, how do you cross metaphors?). He is in control and through prayer and spiritual intuition, thousands in the Cathedral go about their ministry every week in obedience to Him. That includes many in the laity. Just last Sunday, we heard two wonderful sermons by Dr Joseph Thambiah and Dr Edward Menon. Was the Vicar directing them? Nay. How about the ladies who went about to ensure that flowers “magically” appear every weekend? If the Vicar is directing that, it will be a flowery mess. Also likewise, a choral cacophony from the choir stalls, and confusion in our children ministries that move like clockwork every weekend across our many Services.

If you come to my “bridge,” you will see that there are no buttons and indicators there. No charts and about the closest instrument of control is my Mac notebook from where I do some of my work. There is however something I often do. It is called prayer. Fully aware that this Church is His, I pray as do many others. That He will direct the life and affairs of the Church. That He will watch over every decision made, every work being done, with integrity and motivated by a desire to glorify Him.

Whether you are Vicar of a hundred-strong flock or a “mega-parish”, it is the same. It is about letting God be God, the Church be His Church and we simply follow and be amazed at the work of the Lord.


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