Thank you for joining us. We are very glad that you are here to worship with us today.


Today’s in-person devotion at the church will be led by Verna. We thank her for leading the devotion this morning.

Our regular service of worship resumes next Sunday at 10:30 am. We’d love to see you there.

Again, as we have been doing in previous worship services, we are using Psalms as our prayers today.

Call to Worship (Psalm 24)

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
    the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
    and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
    who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
    and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord,
    and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory.

Lord, I lift your name on high

Prayer(Psalm 8)

O Lord, our Sovereign,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
    to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
    and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

With these words we pray. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 4:42-44

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.’ So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.

Sermon: Jesus brings good news

What are we here for? Seriously, as Christians and as a Christian church, why are we here? Are we to live life that will make sure we end up in heaven? Are we here to make life better for everyone? Are we here to look after the marginalised, sick, weak, and outsiders? In the past, local churches tried to do many things in order to be relevant. Mission has been redefined and given a new prominence in our faith lives. As decently and as orderly, we have done our best to be Christians by attending worship, supporting mission activities and being kind to others in order to love God and love neighbours. All these are pretty important and consume lots of our energy if we try to do them with any effort.

Sometimes, it is worthwhile taking a long view or to remove ourselves and examine what we are doing as Christians and a faith community from a distance. A simple, but challenging question to ponder is, “If a Martian came to Earth and saw us, what would that martian think of us?” Would we stand out because we are Christians? Would our church be fairly similar in function as other social groups? Would such a stranger immediately tell us apart from those who are not Christians? Should we stand out? Should we not simply blend in and be part of our society like the early Christians in the Roman Empire when the safest way of being Christians was to remain hidden?

The best way, however, is to imitate Jesus in words and deeds. Two major difficulties face us immediately. The first is, imitating is possible when we know Jesus. Here we are only able to rely on the accounts of the four Gospels which were written nearly 2000 years ago. These writings of Jesus were based very much on recollections that have been passed down. From the scholars we learn that none of these writers experienced Jesus first hand. That means, these hands me down accounts of Jesus are the best we have in figuring out what Jesus was like as we do our best to imitate.

The second is, hearing what Jesus said through the words of others does not always lead to uniform agreement on what Jesus meant when he said certain things. The time and cultural gaps between Jesus, the writers and us are too far to overcome in terms of figuring out whether Jesus would say and mean the same thing today. Yet, throughout history, we see giants of faith rising up, bringing to the Church what Jesus said in fresh new ways that were relevant to each epoch in different locations. Somehow, these saints were able to transcend time and place introducing Jesus as the living Lord to different generations of the faithful. With their limited knowledge and understanding, they were still able to bring Jesus’ message to the world anew.

Therefore, our task is also carried out in the full understanding that we do not know exactly what Jesus said, did, or would have said to us. Yet, being able to share what little we have received in honesty and humbleness can help us bring the message to those who are desperate to hear the good news of God. Our task is not to worry about whether what Jesus said could be true or false, would be received rightly or wrongly, would move the hearts of hearers or be rejected by those who hear his words. We do not need to pad on what little Jesus said with our active imagination so that Jesus’ message could be clearer for today’s people. There is no need for us to justify what we are about to say from what we have received. The most important quality, it seems, is the humbleness so that we point to what Jesus said without adding our interpretations as if we know the mind of Jesus perfectly.

If we let our hearers know that we are in the same predicament as they are in terms of fully understanding what Jesus said, then, we become authentic stewards of Jesus’ speeches. The hearers will come to know that they, too, have access directly to Jesus and do not require intermediaries to receive God’s good news given in Jesus. Otherwise, preachers and evangelists who decipher and plumb the depth of God’s truth hidden in Jesus’ words end up imposing their thoughts onto Jesus’ words. These so-called Jesus’ servants often end up using Jesus’ words in ways to benefit their own well beings. Throughout history and in the present, we see too many preachers and evangelists who have found ways to profit greatly by interpreting and using Jesus’ words and speeches.

Now, let us go back to our original question: What are we here for?

As a living faith community of followers of Jesus, we are also the stewards of what Jesus did, do, and will do in history and time. In this task, we are not only preserving all that Jesus did, continually discerning what he is doing in our world, but also freeing our grips on Jesus based on our past and present so that Jesus will lead us into the future that God has prepared for us. Simply put, being stewards of all that belongs to Jesus is to challenge all of us to continually empty ourselves of who we are, what we have become, as well as what we intend to be in the future. We are tasked to witness Jesus of the past, present, and future in terms of his speeches and life.

In this, we find our calling as the bearers of Jesus’ good news to this world. We bring Jesus’ good news, spoken in words, written down in the Scriptures, and lived out in traditions. Everything we speak of, do, and witness to is for this good news of Christ to reach the ears of those who are in despair, under crushing power of death, and have lost all hopes in this world and humanity. As stewards of all that is Jesus, we participate in life to bring fresh the good news of the kingdom of God by words and deeds. Ultimately it is Jesus who calls those who are his. Those who are his will hear his voice and will return to him. We as stewards do our best to let his voice resound in this world as the living Word through our words and deeds.

Prayer (Psalms 53, 57

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword,
    they shall be prey for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you judge the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations upon earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
    God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
    let all the ends of the earth revere him.

Amen and amen.


Offering Prayer

Out of the void, you created heaven and earth, O God. You created all life on earth and seas. You blessed all forms of life to flourish in your creation. Then, you called us into beings as your stewards. Naked we came. Yet, you blessed us abundantly. Now we bring these gifts from what we own as the offerings that contain our gratitude. Receive them. Use them, O God, in ways that your love becomes the very source of life for all living things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: There is a redeemer