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20 & 21 January 2024 (Pastoral Page) I LOVE MY CHURCH BECAUSE…

By Dn Deborah Lim


I was doing spring cleaning when I came across our church bulletin for 29/30 June 2019. It was Youth Weekend and the theme was ‘Loving the Church’. The youths explored the concept of expressing their love for the church through song, dance and church decorations. Elder Tan Chin Tiong preached from Philippians 1:1-11. He shared 3 points:

 

  1. I love my church because we believe in proclaiming the gospel (v.5)

  2. I love my church because we believe in transforming lives (v. 6, 9)

  3. I love my church because we believe in honouring God (v.11)

 

Then, The Bible Church, Singapore was only 61 years old. This year, she turned 66.

 

Is our church still proclaiming the gospel, transforming lives and honouring God?

 

We begin our study of the book of Joshua with a seminar by Ms Seah Jiak Choo this weekend. In the dramatic early chapters, God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea. God knew that the Israelites were only human, and that it was in their nature to forget. He had them take up 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever (Joshua 4:20-24).

 

Dr Robert M. Solomon’s article, “Growing the Soul in Postmodern Soil: Spiritual Formation in the 21st Century” noted critical differences in the world as we enter the next century and I found these 2 significant:

 

1) The brave new world of technology and technique where efficiency is enhanced at the cost of humanness

2) The stress fractures in the human heart as our lives are divided into isolated points without a central meaning

 

In view of these challenges, he shared how identity (remembering who we are) and community (there are no private heavens) are important for our spiritual formation.

 

Identity

Just as the Israelites set up memorial stones to tell their story to the next generation, it is meaningful to remind ourselves of our identity in Christ. Even as we celebrate our birthdays with family and friends each year, we should also consider celebrating our spiritual birthdays.

 

Baptismal vows are soon forgotten after the baptism service. To borrow Rudyard Kipling’s phrase ‘Lest we forget - lest we forget!’ from his 1897 poem, “Recessional”, let us renew our baptismal vows at our baptism anniversary. Similarly, we can renew our commitment to church life by reviewing the ‘Member’s Pledge and Declaration’ at our Church Anniversary Service or at our Thanksgiving Service. The book of Joshua begins and ends with the concept of ‘being careful not to forget’ (Joshua 1:13, 23:4) and Christ mandated the regular remembrance of Him through Communion. When we celebrate these significant milestones in our spiritual journey we remember who we are as a body of Christ and as members of the church.

 

Community

The pandemic disrupted ‘church’ and many continue to only meet in their CARE Groups. Although small group meetings provide intimacy, the larger congregation provides a stable environment, giving us and our children a sense of history, tradition and authentic Christian community. As ‘community’ is our area of focus this year, the church needs all the more, to guard Christian community and find ways to enhance the reality of ‘body life’.

 

When we confess in the Nicene Creed that we believe in “one holy, catholic, apostolic church,” we are confessing that we cannot know Christ on our own…Instead, we rely on the global, historic church that Christ initiated and built…But our love for the church universal is worked out in the hard pews of our particular, local congregation (Tish H. Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, 1986, p. 117-118, 123).

 

Warren goes on to say that ‘There is no merely private faith - everything we are and do as individuals affects the church community…we enter that giant reality of Christ’s church through the small realities of our week’ (p. 120).

 

Would you commit to working out your faith and destiny in Christ this year, with the brother and sister sitting next to you in the church pew? It could be as simple as showing up in church, taking communion, getting to know those around you, greeting a newcomer, or having a meal with members of your CARE group.

 

And so, why not share in the comments below, why you love this community that you are a part of. You can start your sharing with ‘I love my church because…’

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