MY DAUGHTER INFORMED ME that July 21, 2011 was Racial Harmony Day. She talked much about what lovely ethnic outfits her schoolmates wore. But beyond the diﬀerent dresses that reflect our identity, how do we celebrate and observe this day? Here is a hymn that I find appropriate to sing and talk about on Racial Harmony Day.
I suggest that this hymn, “Help Us Accept Each Other” (UMH560), be sung to its original tune.
Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us;
Teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace.
Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to believe
We are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live.
Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life
We struggle to be human and search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people, for all, not just for some,
To love them as we find them, or as they may become.
Let your acceptance change us, so that we may be moved
In living situations to do the truth in love;
To practice your acceptance, until we know by heart
The table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing art.
Lord, for today’s encounters with all who are in need,
Who hunger for acceptance, for righteousness and bread,
We need new eyes for seeing, new hands for holding on;
Renew us with your Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one!
As we reflect on this hymn, let us keep in mind Jesus’ two commandments.
Jesus was asked: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ is is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40).
Jesus commanded us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. is is exactly what racial harmony calls for: obedience to God’s Word and respect for people diﬀerent from us. It is not an easy task, and so we need God’s help. If we allow ourselves to be directed by the Holy Spirit, things would surely turn out right.
How are we to live in a world with diﬀerent kinds of people, languages, living styles, and more? How do we embrace this truth? Before their kindergarten years, young children have no idea what these diﬀerences are. They make friends with others and even learn their language. They are more accepting of each other than adults are.
There has to be a way of cultivating this trait so that it will be ingrained in them as they grow older. As adults, we have already formed our biases. The third stanza of the hymn suggests that we practise God’s acceptance until it becomes part of our system. We can be more specific – obey the two greatest commandments and practise them daily. Only then can we make a diﬀerence. “Practice makes perfect!”
Finally, nurturing racial harmony would include fulfilling our responsibility towards those who are less privileged than us. ey may be our “own kind” but we tend to see them as “diﬀerent”. If we are indiﬀerent to them then we are hypocrites, just like the religious people in Jesus’ time who called Him “Lord, Lord”, yet in their hearts treated others with contempt.
Let us pray that we will learn to give thanks to God our Father in heaven who enriches our lives with a diverse range of people, languages, cultures, abilities and gifts. May God enable us to use these diversities for the good of all people and to bring Him glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Judith Mosomos is a Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music.
Twins win medals at US track meet
TWIN BROTHERS Ajay Elijah Shanmugam and Vijay Elisha Shanmugam share a gift for running. ey recently participated in the 2011 United States of America Track & Field (USATF) Michigan Association
Junior Olympic Outdoor Track & Field Championships. In the June 18 event held at Livonia, Michigan, Ajay won gold medals in both the 400 m and the 800 m events, while Vijay won silver medals in the 100 m and 200 m events.
The twins first won medals at the 51st National Inter-Primary School Track & Field Championships 2010 in Singapore. is year, in the 52nd National Inter-Primary School Track & Field Championships, Ajay set a new national record for the 600 m sprint event. He broke the previous record with a time of 1.5228 min. Vijay achieved a timing of 13.3 sec for the 100 m sprint event.
Ajay and Vijay picked up running at the age of four, winning about 40 medals and trophies in all. The two-time Singapore national champions have their father, Mr Emmanuel Shanmugam, a former athlete and decathlon champion, as their personal coach, as well as a school coach Mr Tan Wei Leong. ey are currently Primary 4 students in Ang Mo Kio Primary School, and their family worship at Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church.
The Rev Ebenezar Christopher Gnanasekhar is the Pastor at Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church.