Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekend Round-Up: Blood Moon & Mooncakes

There is much ado with the moon. The moon, says the Psalmist, is a sign from God who dwells in heaven (Psalm 89). It signifies God's intentions for the world. Jewish and Chinese calendars are lunar calendars. Every major Jewish feast day falls on a full moon. Yesterday was a convergence of several astronomical signs and major festivals. It was the 4th blood moon in 2 years, each of the 4 total lunar eclipses falling on consecutive Passover and Tabernacles (2014 & 2015). For the Chinese, the largest group in the world of some 1.5 billion people, Mooncake or mid-autumn festival was celebrated yesterday. Even a member of my Dusun church in Ranau gave me a box of mooncakes and my kind neighbour in KK as well. But I am more interested in the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot, the third and final major Feast in Israel. It is also called the Feast of ingathering, where at the end of the year harvests are brought in and celebrated before the Lord.

Every male is enjoined to go up to Jerusalem on the Feast day and in the Gospel of John, much theology revolves around the Feasts, especially Passover and Tabernacles. Only in John, three passovers are mentioned in the life and ministry of Jesus. Only in John, Jesus is said to have gone up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7). Only in John, on the great day of Sukkot, Jesus cries out - "If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink". Only in John, the water imagery takes centre place for theological truths - born again, worship, and salvation (John 3-4).

Yesterday, I preached one of the most emotional sermons ever. I saw a couple of my church members wept openly as I preached. It was an unusual sight. I preached about Jesus' encounter with a woman known to be sinner at Simon the Pharisee's house (Luke 7). I gave the title of the sermon as a question, "How do we receive Jesus?" and morphed into "How do we worship Jesus?" Why are so many church leaders behaving like Simon the Pharisee? They have titles as leaders, elders or deacons, pastors or Reverends. But little love is shown to Jesus by the way they worship or approach the Lord. It is routine, mechanical and dry. There are no tears, no weeping like the sinner-woman. There is no humbling of oneself and kissing Jesus' feet. There is no welcome given to Jesus. There is no sacrificial giving, no offering of perfume to anoint Jesus. What has happened to the church? What has happened to Christian leaders? Why are there so many Pharisees in the church? No wonder in some places worship is so dry that makes one's bones to creak. Yesterday in the first song, I was ushered into the Lord's presence. And in the spirit, I saw the reality of what it meant to be close to the Lord. To approach him with humility, with regrets for our sins, with our tears of repentance, tears of love and gratitude and offer ourselves and our money unto the Lord in worship.

It was a culmination of one of the busiest week-ends of my nascent pastoral ministry. Straight after a week's leave in KK, I had to join battle by preaching Friday night at the church's end of the month combined cell group meeting. On Saturday morning I preached twice, first on the topic "Ambassadors for Christ" based on 2 Cor 5 and a long 2nd session on the "Origins of the Bible". It ended at 12:45pm. For the past 3 days it was a 4am start for me; I could not sleep past 4.30am. I rose early yesterday knowing that my sermon preparation was not up to scratch with the Friday-Saturday ministry taking most of my time. And I attended the Saturday's night closing service for the Youth Conference and the church hall was packed with almost 900 people. The Indonesian preacher preached a great message. It was a long service as many youths went forward to prayers and the Lord moved powerfully with many deliverances from different ailments, physical and spiritual. I reached home by midnight and after a long day, it was difficult to fall asleep. By 4am I rose and engaged with Scripture and preached to my congregation at 8:30am. An elder preached in the 2nd session but I conducted the Lord's communion for both services. After a short rest I prepared for an evening council meeting which went from 5.30pm to almost 9.45pm with a 45 min. dinner break in between. By the time I got up this morning I was wondering I should perhaps apply for another week's leave. Today is my day off but this evening I am making a house call to a family to pray for a young man who has been sick for more than a month. May the Lord restore him with His mercy.

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