A vibrant Celebration of Praise and Thanksgiving Service where over 1,200 attendees worshipped God with contemporary Christian songs and Wesleyan hymns was held at Paya Lebar Methodist Church on 28 Nov 2015, a befitting finale to a year of celebrations for the 130th anniversary of The Methodist Church in Singapore.
The congregation’s worship was interspersed with a rich musical showcase of multi-cultural worship performances by musicians across the three Annual Conferences, not only by the Methodist Festival Choir and the newly-formed Methodist Festival Orchestra, but also by the Emmanuel Tamil AnnualConference ensemble, which regaled us with a United Methodist hymn with a beautiful traditional Hindi melody, and a Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) musician who presented an exquisite guzheng performance. The Choir and Praise team comprised choristers from Trinity Annual Conference and CAC churches.
An inspiring moment in the service was when representatives from all 46 local Methodist churches walked through the congregation bearing placards with their respective church logos, as a symbol of unity in the Methodist Church body.
Opportunities abounded for reflection on the past year’s activities: A video montage was screened, summarising highlights from all the MCS 130 events held over the year such as the ‘Our Unsung Heroes’ video project, MethodistWalk 2015 and Wheels for GOOD; and the top winning song in the MCS 130 Song- Writing Competition was presented – ‘Seek, Love, Serve the Lord’ by Dr Andrew Pan from Wesley Methodist Church.
The Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) also presented tokens of appreciation to the Presidents of the three Annual Conferences, in gratitude for their churches’ participation in and strong support of the Getting Out Of Debt (GOOD) programme. Their support enabled MWS to surpass their fund-raising goal, giving a fresh start to 619 families in the Jubilee Year of 2015, as well as enabling a new debt management programme in 2016 to help even more families.
A Long Service Award was also presented to the Rev Philip Lim Min Hock, who reached his 25th year of service in 2015.
What will keep us moving forward in service at the end of these celebratory events? Drawing from Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV), Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup said in his sermon that our acts of service are often determined by whether we have the mind of Christ – an attitude of “release”, to resemble those whom we’re serving, and the willingness to humble ourselves.
Firstly, to have the mind of Christ requires us to be able to release our grasp on high positions and things important to us, “because we know in this world positions bring about privileges, prestige and many other things that benefit us”.
Secondly, we need to be willing to “resemble” those we are serving, as Jesus had set the example by “taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (verse 7).
The third aspect of this mindset indicates the extent to which we are willing to humble ourselves and make sacrifices for those we serve (verse 8) – an attitude that prevents us from serving others for show.
Bishop Dr Wee shed light on a conducive environment in churches to cultivate this mindset, which involves “encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, and affection and sympathy” (verse 1).
Encouragement in Christ is found in the experience and reality of Christ always by our side, and we can serve others with the comfort and love we have received in affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). Authentic fellowship in the Spirit, similar to that at Pentecost (Acts 2), should manifest itself in humility and sacrificial acts of service.
Finally, these should lead to deeply-felt compassion, and to freely give of ourselves when we see people who are suffering. This may translate to moving out of our comfort zones of family and church to minister to those in need.
Ms Cynthia Ng, 80, an honorary steward who serves in the children and prayer ministry in Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church, said: “The service was very good, especially the sermon which tells us that we have not only reached 130 years, but also that it is the years ahead that are more important, and who we are focusing on. Our focus should always be on Jesus Christ our mighty Lord and [we should] have our hearts and minds on Him and work towards His plans and projects together as a church.”
Ms Mercy Jaya Prya, 22, who attends Sembawang Tamil Methodist Church, found the service lively with its mix of traditional and contemporary songs, and her mother Anna Matthew also found the Bishop’s sermon useful.
Said Low Sock Hwee: “I came here with my cell group because I’m from this church. The service is a good way to end the whole year’s celebrations…This year is a special year so we decided to come as a cell to be part of the celebrations. It’s good to see the three [annual] conferences come together.”