Christians offer thanksgiving and gratitude at National Day Service
CHRISTIANS from various denominations gathered to commemorate and offer gratitude for 43 years of blessings for Singapore at this year’s National Day Thanksgiving Service at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Aug 14.
Organised by the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), the service incorporated several celebratory items, including choruses and a song and dance, put up by groups from various churches.
The bishops and heads of churches were present to jointly launch a booklet, A Guide to Common Issues in Inter-Religious Relations. It contains a collection of guidelines for Christians to follow, especially when faced with situations that involve members of other faiths in Singapore, such as whether to give to organisations of other faiths, or what we should do when leaders of other faiths are saying prayers.
A number of political leaders were also present at the service. They included Mr Gan Kim Yong, Acting Minister for Manpower, Assoc Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State (Law & Home Affairs), Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister of State (Finance & Transport), Mdm Cynthia Phua, a Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, and Mr Lim Biow Chuan, a Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC.
The Anglican Bishop of Singapore, the Most Rev Dr John Chew, spoke on the theme “The Issue that Matters” from John 2:1-22.
The Bishop, who is the President of NCCS, highlighted three main points in John’s first sign, where Jesus changed water into wine.
1. The wine ran out
Just like wine that ran out in a wedding, good things in our world do not last. People constantly seek new things to replace them, sometimes without questioning whether it is suitable.
2. Mary took notice
As the body of Christ, we need to be sensitive and attend to the basic needs of people. But is the church taking notice and do we really understand what the world needs now?
3. Jesus’ response – “My time has not yet come.”
Our Lord knew the appropriate time for the work He needed to do. He did not act initially not because He could not, but because he chose not to. Is this a time for the church to hold back? If this is indeed the time for us to act, are we able to supply what the world really needs?
Bishop Chew also talked about two major periods in history: In 1968, when there was the Woodstock Festival, the Prague Spring Revolution, the Paris Riots and the Singapore Race Riots; and in 1989, when there was the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Christianity had failed to meet the needs of the world in the aftermath of these two critical periods.
The Bishop underlined that perhaps the church needs to stop and think about what we have to offer to the world today, in light of the global economic slowdown.
We may need to first step back before offering anything, and until the time comes, the wine will continue to run out. But above all, when that hour comes, God will display His true glory, not the church’s, and we will revel in His success, he said.
Nathanael Tan is a member of St Andrew’s Cathedral.
By NATHANAEL TAN; PHOTOS: DANIEL LIE