This was a National Day Thanksgiving Service (NDTS) like no other—government-mandated COVID-19 social distancing regulations permitted only 50 people to attend the event in person at St Andrew’s Cathedral. Performances and the worship portions were pre-recorded. Those who spoke during the service wore masks and wiped down the microphone and lectern after each use.
However, live-streaming enabled more than 250 people to join the service in real-time. In addition, more than 2500 people have viewed the service online,1 far more than would have been able to attend a normal pre-COVID service.
Throughout the world, as in Singapore, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we worship. However, the sentiment behind the annual NDTS has remained constant—since 2004, the National Council of Christian Churches (NCCS) has gathered churches from various denominations across Singapore to thank God for His blessings on the nation in the past year as well as to pray for the country’s future.
The Rt Rev Keith Lai, who became NCCS President in July this year, preached the sermon, “The Remoulding of God’s People”, the theme of NDTS 2020. Referring to Jeremiah 8:1–12, the Rt Rev Lai said, “I believe that God has something of greater importance that He wants to achieve. […] The ultimate sovereignty [belongs to] God, and God alone.”
The Rt Rev Lai elaborated: “Even when bad things happen and tragedy strikes, we fall into God’s hands.” When the nation is corrupted, or “spoilt” (Jer 8:4), it has sinned either through commission or omission, or it has not listened to God’s voice. But the Church that is reformed must never stop reforming according to the Word of God—in Latin, semper reformanda. “I think the local church, during this pandemic, has to be willing to submit to what God is doing in restructuring and remoulding what we understand about Church […] so that the sovereign Potter can continue to fashion and shape us for His purpose.”
The sermon was followed by a prayer of affirmation led by the Rev Canon Terry Wong. Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung, the Rev Dr Chua Chung Kai, Bishop Low Jee King and Bishop Terry Kee led in intercessory prayers.
1 As at press time.
Sheri Goh is the Editor of Methodist Message. / All photos are screenshots of the live-streamed service on YouTube