Launch of 125th Anniversary celebration of The Methodist Church in Singapore: Bishop tells Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church
WHO WOULD IMAGINE that four people who landed in Singapore 125 years ago would lead to the formation of the Methodist Church today?
The Methodist Church in Singapore today is considered “rich” – it is middle class, has professionals and people in powerful positions in it. But our riches are not just monetary, but spiritual. The richness is in the heritage of personal holiness, social holiness, growing to be more Christlike.
God uses the small things of the world to accomplish His purposes. His promises of suﬃciency will see His work done. It is not our own powers in missions but God’s presence. God’s promise is that He can flatten mountains (Zech 4:7). He is greater than all the circumstances of history, all principalities and powers.
These points were made by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon in his sermon, “Not by Might, Nor by Power”, at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church on Feb 28, 2010 during the launch of the 125th Anniversary celebration of The Methodist Church in Singapore. All local Methodist churches used a common set of liturgies at their worship services to mark the occasion. The Bishop’s sermon was based on the text from Zechariah 4:1-7.
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord” (Zech. 4:6) was the text of the first Methodist sermon in Singapore. Dr James Thoburn gave this sermon during the founding of the Methodist Church in February 1885.
Bishop Dr Solomon said the scripture text describes the fifth vision given to Zechariah. It was meant to encourage the people, telling them that it was the power of the Spirit and the sovereign will of God that accomplished His work.
The point of the vision is not eﬃciency but suﬃciency. God’s purpose would be accomplished by His Spirit, not by human cleverness or eﬀort. God had not forgotten His covenant to the people and His people would not run out of supply.
In Revelation, each church was represented by a lamp-stand. God’s promise here, said the Bishop, was that the oil (symbolising the Holy Spirit) would never run out. “Might” and “power” here do not contradict the Spirit, they refer to human might and power (armies, wealth, cleverness, etc).The success of the church therefore depends on God’s power and truth.
He said sometimes God “uses strange, un-doable ideas for accomplishing great purposes”.
“Maybe we are all God’s little kites, whom God can use to do great things for Him. Perhaps there is a John Wesley or Charles Wesley sitting in the pews or Church school here, a James Thoburn in your family.
“Your life is shaping them. It is not the big things, but our simple faith and faithfulness that will let us go as God’s little kites to bridge the chasm between this sinful world and God’s holiness.
“The Methodist people must remain humble and remain in the truth. As long as we live by this, we will continue to flourish.
“But how long will we last? We do not know, but we know God’s kingdom will last.”
The worship service closed with the congregation singing the great Charles Wesley hymn, “And Can It Be that I Should Gain”.
Tan Xiao Wen is a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.