BY DEACON AARON CHAN
Today, we warmly welcome seven new members to our family in Glory Presbyterian Church. For guests of our new members, and for anyone here for the first time, welcome too!
I grew up in Glory Presbyterian Church and have spent most Sundays in the past 20 years climbing this same slope you hiked this morning. Many others have been part of this spiritual family way longer than I have, while others are intricately intertwined as literal family members for generations (every once in a while, I still find myself amazed when I learn how some people are related).
I was part of the minority who did not have any relatives in church, as my parents were the first in their families to worship in Glory. While I initially felt left out and less connected, I gradually came to realize that it didn’t matter – because we are all part of one spiritual family, connected as brothers and sisters through Christ and in Christ, worshipping the one same God.
But every family has its challenges and problems, and our family too in Glory is no different. Just as we have more than 140 years of history, we have also accumulated 140 years’ worth of pain and hurt.
Some have bitterness harboured against each other that has lasted years, due to disagreements or misunderstandings. Previous conflict has at times manifested into situations where people intentionally avoid each other on Sundays, with each time we pass each other by being a reminder of the hurt and grief that the other party has caused us.
Sometimes we become vulnerable with others, but our openness ends up getting abused, and this leads to heartache, along with an unwillingness to share life in a bid to guard our hearts.
Other times it could be people around us who are hard to love – they are annoying, disruptive, and don’t fit into our community. We think that everything would be better and smoother without these troublesome people – just like that one family member who knows exactly what buttons of ours to push and do nothing but exasperate us!
We are a broken family. Because we too are broken individuals.
But Jesus makes our family whole once again, just as He has made each of us individuals righteous with His blood.
Rev Roy Koh reminded us during Induction Service in Matthew 5 that: 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you (note: and not you having something against your brother), 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Seeking (and offering) forgiveness and reconciliation is not an easy step to take, especially when we feel the other party does not deserve it. But we too have hurt people around us, and we too must be extremely hard to love, especially in God’s eyes.
And we should not aim to achieve this by our own strength nor by our own goodness (by which we have none), but rather to ask God for help that we can do this through His love.
May we grow as a family together in God’s love, as we discover we need more of Him every hour. May both our family and each one of us look like Christ, when others look at us.
To our new family members, we are far from a perfect family. I like this quote: “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” Thank you for joining us on this journey where we do life together as a spiritual family, as God heals us and shines through our imperfections.