EPISCOPAL RE-DEDICATION SERVICE FOR BISHOP DR SOLOMON
WHAT is in God’s heart? Bishop Dr Robert Solomon believes that there at least three things that the Word of God points us to as God reveals His heart to us through His Word:
■ We are called to be a Holy People;
■ We are called to be a United People; and
■ We are called to be a Missionary People.
Speaking at his Re-dedication Service as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) at Barker Road Methodist Church on Dec 9, 2004, he said that in 1 Pet 1:16, God tells us to “Be holy for I am holy”.
“We are called, as the people of God, to show and demonstrate through our lives the very purpose and proof of the Gospel of Christ. God has saved us to be holy, to grow towards perfection. And this perfection has to do with love.”
On the second point, he said that Jesus, in His High Priestly prayer, prayed to the Father for all Christians, “that all of them may be one, just as we are one”. (Jn. 17:21). “We Methodists belong to a Connectional Church. In Christ, we belong to one another and to the larger Body of Christ. We are challenged to work together for the glory of God. In an age of individualism and narcissism, we need to live out our underlying unity in the Spirit.” We are also called to be a Missionary People. “The risen Christ told His disciples, ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ (Jn. 20:21-22). Then, he breathed on to them. They became a mis-sionary people. Hence they were sent to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The church is to be a missionary church.” Bishop Dr Solomon, who was elected to a second term of four-year office on Oct 18, 2004 during the 8th Session of the General Conference of the MCS, said the congregation might have noticed that to be a holy, united and a missionary people, is simply to emulate God. Our ho-liness, unity and missionary spirit all are but reflections of God’s characteristics.
“Yes, at this 8th Session of the General Conference we have looked at some of the things we hope to do during the 8th quadrennium. We will form a task force to look at the possibility of restructuring The Methodist Church in Singapore so that we can do our God-given work more effec-tively and faithfully. We also hope to pro-duce our own hymnal and book of worship that would be rooted in our historic tradi-tions as well as reflect our own context. We want to further develop our global mission partnerships in places where God is definitely moving at the cutting edges.
“But all these must be informed, inspired and guided by what we find in God’s heart – what we had just seen from His Word.”
Bishop Dr Hwa Yung, Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysia, was the guest preacher at the Re-dedication Service, which also saw the participation of Bishop Zothan Mawia of The Methodist Church of Myanmar (Lower); the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, the Rev James Nagulan and the Rev Wee Boon Hup, the three recently elected Presidents of the Chinese Annual Confer-ence, Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference and Trinity Annual Conference respec-tively; Mrs Laureen Ong, the recently elected President of the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service; and the Rev Malcolm Tan, Pastor-in-Charge of Barker Road Methodist Church.
At the start of his address, Bishop Dr Solomon acknowledged the presence of the special guests — Canon Dr James Wong and Mrs Wong, representing Bishop John Chew, Anglican Bishop and President of the Na-tional Council of Churches of Singapore; Bishop John Tan of the Lutheran Church; Lt-Col David Bringans of the Salvation Army; and Mr and Mrs Yip Chee Seng, representing Seminari Teologi Malaysia.
He also thanked the Voices of Praise choir under the direction of Mr John Ang and Mr Goh Say Meng, with Dr Emilia Wong as the pianist, and The Wesley En-semble, directed by Mr Jusuf Kam with Mrs Susanna Kam as the organist, for provid-ing stirring music.
He made two other points in his address.
He said the future is full of challenges for the church. He is now reading a book edited by George Ritzer on the global process of “McDonaldization”, a term introduced by Ritzer in his book “The McDonaldization of Society” and which has now become a buzz word in academic circles.
“The argument is that the principles and practices of fast-food restaurants have now become the dominant paradigm in every sphere of life, whether it is educa-tion, the workplace, family life, etc. The church has not been spared of all this. The future is indeed full of challenges and we must stay close to God and His Word if we are to steer safely through these challenges.
“Elsewhere I have stated that the MCS is like a flotilla of ships. Whether we move forward in formation or disintegrate into flotsam in the sea of changes depends on how connected we remain, firstly to the Lord, and secondly to one another.
Bishop Dr Solomon ended by asking the congregation to “pray for me”.
“I am unable to express my experience in words, but I have often tangibly felt up-lifted, especially in critical moments of ministry. I attribute this to the prayers of people for me. These prayers make such a profound difference. Hence I ask that you pray for me regularly.
“Let us pray for one another. Together let us claim and inherit what God has promised us in Christ. We serve a great God. Let us move forward together and claim His prom-ises and discover what a great God He is.”
In his sermon, Bishop Dr Hwa Yung dwelt on spiritual authority – the only au-thentic source of the authority with which church leaders are vested. He said in the contemporary Christian world, the lack of spiritual authority leads many leaders to revert or appeal to human authority to con-trol and manipulate the church and its mem-bers for their own security and advancement.
This lack of spiritual authority, prom-ised in Mt 28:18ff; Acts 1:8; and Eph 2:6 has resulted in uncertain or muddled teach-ing, bordering on heresy, and in a number of disturbing issues: the gay lifestyle, the hesitancy in our deliverance and healing ministry, the feebleness in our evangelism, our powerlessness in the face of entrenched evil and corruption in society and the world.
Against this, he said, we must turn to the authority of Jesus.
He concluded his sermon by observ-ing that the centre of gravity of the Chris-tian church is said to have shifted to the non-Western world, where growth has been unprecedented since the 1980s.
The danger is to think of ourselves as the chosen ones and act in a triumphalistic manner with its attendant problems. If the non-Western world is to bring the millions to Christ, transforming the world for the better, then real spiritual authority is needed, but that will come only if we learn to live as true servants totally submitted to our Master and His Word.