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During my last visit in Germany for a Preaching Teaching Tour through the churches and schools, one of the most memorable churches I remember was Christ Church on Martin Luther Street in Lauf. Apart from the wonder pastor and his members, there was a piece of artwork in the entrance of the church which has left a deep impression in me. What the church member/artist did was to take broken glass to make it into a few standing pillar like displays. Pastor Hoffman told me the idea was that even though we are like broken and useless glass originally meant for trash, we can still be like these pieces to form a beautiful work of art to reflect God’s beauty and glory. To all the broken (and even "useless") glass out there … a little phrase is ringing in my ear, we sang on Sunday … "There is hope in His name …our God saves!"
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I recall walking through a lawn cemetery once in Labuan Island. It was a war memorial park, where many soldiers from the commonwealth countries who served in Malaysia were buried. Each tombstone had a sentence or two in which they were to be remembered by. Some of these young men who died in the war barely touched 22-23 years old. The walk that evening as the sun was setting was sobering.
I think the question is worth asking not just when we are 83 years old. But even now, "By what legacy of faith do I want to be remembered?". Last night, when I had a chance to interact with a small group of college students, I recalled a question which helped my decision to become a pastor… it was "What would I regret most at the end of my life, if I didn’t do it?" It’s big picture question, it’s more to frame perspectives than to get specific steps. But within that frame, the little steps we take would make more sense.
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We have already stepped into the 50 day season of Easter. Yes! After the 40 days of Lent, we have another 50 days of Easter! And the song continues to ring … "The Kingdom of God is Justice and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit, Come Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom." We have spent some time (prayerfully and hopefully) during Lent on self or corporate examination, now it’s a good time to shift gear into EXPLORATION .. and see where is God opening up the gates to his path of putting things right … ask him even now, where are the openings? And then step in …
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My mind is brought back years ago, when I sat waiting outside the operation theater for mom to come out from the surgery. We were all surprised later to discover she had colon cancer. It was my first year in seminary, the learning from life, and mom’s struggle to recover the next few years taught me much about the fragility of human life, the power of prayer, and the care of family and friends …. Most of all the experience shook me to the core in my walk with God, changed my perspectives on life here on earth, and reordered much of my priorities … "Dark Nights" have a way of pushing one in that direction. Of course, it could go the other way to a journey of despair, hopelessness, bitterness and doom … but for me, and especially for Mom, the resurrection power of Jesus was experienced in the midst of the rough challenges of cancer and every fear and worry which goes with it. Nothing too dramatic, but the slow walk was sure and significant.
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Easter –> An Answer and a Question. I like that … this Lent Season started with a clear consciousness of a 40day time of reflection, which got "interrupted" by a delightful intense period of history making, and during the Holy Week pulling back again to what’s the center of our living, moving and being … and as the sun rises on Sunday morning … we’re drawn again to a life of faith, hope and love … a life still with many questions, and answers, … answers which lead to more questions, and questions which open up to more answers, and the cycle continues until that eventful day when the answers and the questions fade away in the light of his glory and grace! ..
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These harmonics vibrated from March 23 – 31, 2008