It was a special opportunity for me to participate in a Ecumenical Service at Cantate-Kirche Kircheim tonight. It was part of a special “Day of Repentance” and the text I was given to speak from was Revelation 3:14-22. It was a unique service for me for a number of reasons:
1. I realized “ecumenical” was more understood as between Lutheran and Catholic here (where as my perception was inclusive of more other denominations from a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian view). Fascinating how one needs to check on the overtones of the words we use for differing contexts.
2. I appreciated the creative parts of the service where we sang the Kyrie eleison in between three short plays which were meant to get people thinking about their Christian faith in a culture where Christians are less likely to “stand firm, stand up or speak out” on their beliefs.
3. I had the chance to participate through preaching, serving the Holy communion as well as giving the final benediction in Chinese.
4. From my view, it was simply worth celebrating both Catholic and Lutheran participating in communion together and there was a little part where we held hands to receive the parting short blessing which reminded me much about BLC in Malaysia.
After the service, we immediately moved to another room for the evening talk. I felt the atmosphere very open and was surprised when a senior man Mr. Klaus came up to me before we began and told me he has been to Malaysia but that was 1979. One amazing thing throughout my travels thus far is meeting Germans who have been to Malaysia 🙂 He chipped in when i was showing the Durian with the phrase .. “It smells like hell but tastes like heaven!” I had a good laugh with that.
The discussion was lively after sharing about Malaysia in General and Christianity in Malaysia. As usual there were a lot of interest in The Status of religious freedom in Malaysia. Of course, my approach was more from a personal and pastoral point of view. It’s always good to clarify any misconceptions and yet be honest with challenges we face.
There’s a lot of complexity and dynamism especially at this stage of our history in Malaysia. And all the players – from religion to politics, ethnic concerns to economic considerations, government to the people, etc. need to walk wisely and yet openly towards a future we can all embrace. Kyrie Eleison!
All in all we had a good evening, the closing applause in the video indicated their appreciation of my sharing. Some of the post-service-talk conversations helped me discern where God is working especially emphasizing what’s more essential in terms of church life. One lady’s sharing was especially encouraging when she mentioned after hearing about our adventures the last 6 years in BLC – that community, sharing life, and joy is more important than the temptation fo focus on buildings for example. If that’s one thing she got from what I shared then I rejoice. Another lady shared with me earlier on being encouraged by the cooperation of different denominations in Malaysia. And it’s true there’s much we can celebrate at a local church level as well as national level.
And yet, deep down like anyone who is truly plugged in to the Church .. there are many areas we need to work on and improve. Sharing the story of BLC as well as being a Christian and a pastor in Malaysia again and again has helped me re-affirm the values I’ve been exploring and trying to embody these past 6 years. And yet, there’s also sparks where I’m reminded where we may have missed something or need to be watchful of pitfalls. It’s always good to re-look at the core mission and vision of what other ideas need to center on.
It’s a little late … and I’m glad tomorrow there’s a break 🙂 good to relax a little. Praying for good weather.