Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Am Now Blogging Here...

For those who stumble upon this blog, and wonder what has happened since March 2007, I'm happy to announce that I have been blogging at Eppur Si Muove since 2009 - a separate blog for a different stage in the journey of my life...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Friends in Conversation - A Quiet Revolution of Hope

Brian McLaren in Malaysia! That must have been the main draw for me. But I was looking forward to listening to what the conversation partners, comprising of some of the top Christian minds in Malaysia, had to say too. It’s exciting to think about what such a conversation can lead to, and I hope that this event will launch the Malaysian church into new adventures with God in the years to come!

I need to get the DVD to listen to the session recordings again though. There were just too many thoughts and words flying all around the sanctuary in CLGC. Some of them really got me thinking hard. But I’ll need to listen carefully and prayerfully at least one more time to be able to digest them. I have to acknowledge that I learned more from the local partners in conversation, with the likes of Sherman Kuek, Dr. Ng Kam Weng, Tan Soo In, Dr. Voon, Rev. Fr. Dr. Jojo Fung, Dr. Herman Shastri, and Elder Tan Kong Beng among them, more than Brian McLaren himself. I guess it’s all down to the fact that I’ve already read quite a number of his books, and most of what he said was already quite familiar to me. Maybe I’ll write more about the contents of the conversation another time, at least after a second listening when I get the DVD.

I believe that this conversation has impacted me in many ways. And it’s not just about the things that were said during the event. Firstly, I have to admit that in listening to Brian and the conversation partners, as well as in mixing with many of the other participants in the conversation, I have been taught a great deal of humility. There is just so much more that I do not know; so much more that I have not experienced or even begun to put into practice in my own life. And there are so many people from whom I need to learn and follow even as they follow Christ.

It was through this conversation also, that my own faith was affirmed. After struggling with it for quite awhile, listening and engaging with people who think mostly (not entirely!) alike in terms of how we understand the gospel and what it means to follow Christ has given me the encouragement that I need to carry on. Maybe I’m not going down the wrong road after all. Maybe I’m not that heretical! Yes, I realize how much I need a community that can affirm my faith in this particular way. Maybe I should participate in more of these conversations with brothers and sisters from Emergent Malaysia. It will also help me to sharpen my own understanding and correct any maverick ideas that I may have!

Through the worship sessions, the songs that we sang inspired me to continue my own journey in carrying the cross daily and following Christ wherever He may lead me. It is time to live out the gospel of love, redemption, reconciliation and justice – the kingdom of God – in the context of my workplace in MMU. Praxis calls…

Of all the experiences during the conversation, the one that has left the deepest mark on me came at the closing of the event. All the participants stood in a large circle in the sanctuary. A huge candle was lit and passed around. And we shared a meal of bread together, just as how Jesus shared a special meal with His disciples on that fateful night before He was arrested. What made the experience so unforgettable? Why did it leave such an indelible mark on me? The session was led by Rev. Father Jojo Fung, a Roman Catholic priest. Every time I think about it, that same sense of awe that I had then returns to amaze me. In that short moment, it felt as if the body of Christ was one and undivided. It gave me hope for the Church in Malaysia and in the world.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Watchman, What of the Night?

There is this very interesting passage in Isaiah that caught my attention the first time I came across it last year. In chapter 21, Isaiah, on behalf of YHWH pronounces oracles of judgment against Babylon, and then Edom. In the oracle concerning Edom, there is this imagined conversation between a tower watchman and an inquirer:

He calls to me out of Seir,
“Watchman, what of the night?
Watchman, what of the night?”

The watchman said,
“The morning comes, and also the night.
If you will inquire, inquire;
Return! Come back!”

The picture is of someone calling out to a night watchman, asking for the time. Is the night coming to an end soon? Is the day coming? This picture becomes a metaphor for the darkness that will befall Edom. People will be asking when the night will end. Will the day come soon? Will the darkness pass? The watchman replies that the day will come. But night also. ‘Come back and ask me another time!’ he says. Although this passage originally concerns Edom, I believe it applies as much to Israel in exile, crying out for the dawn of YHWH’s kingdom and homecoming. It applies as much to anyone who may be living in darkness, searching the horizon for the first signs of daybreak.

What about us Christians? We observe that the world is in tatters. It would seem that we are still living in darkness and that we should be asking the same question: Watchman, what of the night? Yet, we believe that on that first Easter morning, dawn has broken into the world. New creation has begun. We live in the age of Advent, as we await the coming of Christ. The first Christians were on watch. But they were watching for something else. They had witnessed the dawn. They were waiting for the full light of day. Saint Paul proclaims in Romans 13:12 – the night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. Jurgen Moltmann notes this from early drawings of praying Christians:

The early Christians prayed standing, looking up, with arms outstretched and eyes wide open, ready to walk or to leap forward. Their posture reflects tense expectation, not quiet heart-searching. It says: we are living in God’s Advent. We are on the watch, in expectation of the One who is coming, and with tense attentiveness we are going to meet the coming God.

It is quite interesting that nowadays, we pray with our eyes closed. We want to shut the world out so that we can search our souls, and focus on the Lord. There is a time for contemplative and mystical prayer as we seek to draw near to God in the present. But there is also a time for us to pray messianically as we wait expectantly for Christ to come from the future to meet us. We watch and pray with our eyes open as we watch for the Advent. We also pray with our eyes open to witness the world groaning in pain, as we cry for God’s kingdom to come. We now play the role of the watchman. As the world cries out ‘What of the night?’, we who have glimpsed the light of day answer, ‘the day is at hand.’

In prayer we wake up to the world as it is spread out before God in all its heights and depths. We perceive the sighing of creation, and hear the cries of the created victims that have fallen dumb. We also hear the song of praise of the blossoming spring, and feel the divine love for everything that lives. The person who prays, lives more attentively. Pray wakefully – that is only possible if we don’t pray mystically with closed eyes, but messianically, with eyes wide open for God’s future in the world. ~ Jurgen Moltmann, In the End – The Beginning

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Science and Theology

Science does not have a privileged route of access to knowledge through some superior ‘scientific method’, uniquely its own possession; theology does not have a privileged route of access to knowledge through some ineffable source of unquestionable ‘revelation’, uniquely its own possession. Both are trying to grasp the significance of their encounters with manifold reality. In the case of science, the dimension of reality concerned is that of a physical world that we transcend and that can be put to the experimental test. In the case of theology, it is the reality of God who transcends us and who can be met with only in awe and obedience. ~ Sir John Polkinghorne

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Drinking the Cup and Thoughts on Vocation

My parents and my brother have come and gone during the long weekend that became too short. Now that I am all alone here, I find myself in melancholy mood again. I miss my family. I miss the past. I miss home… wherever that is. I’ve been thinking the whole night. I’ve been thinking about my relationships with people, and I feel guilty about all the times that I have been so selfish. I’ve been thinking about Penang and Jelutong Methodist Church. I wonder if I will have the chance to go back and stay there for awhile, to be with my family and to serve in the church that I grew up in. I wonder if there is anything that I can give in return to the community that brought me up as a child. I’ve been thinking about my mom and dad, who will be retiring in a few years’ time. I wonder if they are happy with their life right now. I wonder if they have joy and a purpose in life. I wonder if they will be happier if I moved back to Penang. I’ve been thinking about my own life. I wonder where the road will lead me. I think I need change. I need a fresh start, or else I’m going to rot here in my laziness and complacency. What is my vocation? What have I been called to? I’ve been thinking about God. And as I did so, I broke out in song as I drove from Kota Kemuning to Sri Kembangan. I believe I need a fresh injection of discipline in my relating to Him.

Some thoughts from Henri Nouwen to digest while I continue to reflect about my own calling and my vocation:

Jesus drank the cup of His life. He experienced praise, adulation, admiration and immense popularity. He also experienced rejection, ridicule, and mass hatred. At one moment people shouted “Hosanna”; a moment later they cried, “Crucify him”. Jesus took it all in, not as a hero adored and then vilified, but as the one who had come to fulfill a mission and who kept his focus on that mission whatever the responses were.

Busyness has become a sign of importance. Having much to do, many places to go, and countless people to meet gives us status and even fame. However, being busy can lead us away from our true vocation and prevent us from drinking our cup.

It is not easy to distinguish between doing what we are called to do and doing what we want to do. Our many wants can easily distract us from our true action. True action leads us to the fulfillment of our vocation. Whether we work in an office, travel the world, write books or make films, care for the poor, offer leadership, or fulfill unspectacular tasks, the question is not “What do I most want?” but “What is my vocation?” The most prestigious position in society can be an expression of obedience to our call as well as a sign of our refusal to hear that call, and the least prestigious position, too, can be a response to our vocation as well as a way to avoid it.

Drinking our cup involves carefully choosing those actions which lead us closer to complete emptying of it, so that at the end of our lives we can say with Jesus, “It is fulfilled”.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Is There Room?

No room at the inn that night. May our hearts have room for Him this Christmas.
I sent this message out to some of my friends last night. This is the question asked of me this season: Do I have room for Jesus this Christmas?

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing

After singing this carol for years and years, its meaning dawned on me this year, and it captured me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lifting the Cup - A Toast to Life!

I lift up the cup of my life for all to see…

Cheers everyone! A toast to life!

I celebrate my life… I celebrate 2006… with all of you – all you who made a difference, all you who inspired me, all you who loved me, all you who cared for me, all you who thought about me, all you who prayed for me, all you who were there for me, all you who chose to give, and all you who allowed me to give what little I had to you in return. I acknowledge with much gratitude that even though this is my life, it is the fruit of the hard work of many people like you. Indeed, the year 2006 is worth celebrating, worth remembering, more so because of you…

I lift up the cup of my life for all to see…

I lift it up in celebration…
I lift it up in gratitude…
I lift it up as an invitation for you to join me in lifting your cups, as we share and affirm our lives together in community. To life!

I lift my cup to You, Heavenly Father, in awesome wonder, in thanksgiving, in love and in humble submission.