33RD SESSION OF TRINITY ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 17-20, 2008
UNCTION. Remember the word. It is an old-fashioned word which we do not use any more. The more modern equivalent today is the word “anointing”. And the word anointing is taken from the word “Messiah” in Hebrew, and “Christ” or “Christos” in Greek, both meaning the same – the Anointed One.
The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup, who said this, was not giving a lesson in English. He was delivering his message at the Installation, Ordination-cum-Closing Service of the 33rd Session of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) on Nov 20 at Paya Lebar Methodist Church where he was installed by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon as the TRAC President. He had been elected to head the Conference for a second four-term two days earlier.
He pointed out in his sermon that the only time Jesus used the term “anointed” on Himself is found in Luke 4:18,19. Following the reading of that passage from Isaiah, Jesus declared that the Spirit of God, which had come upon Him at His baptism, had anointed Him for the purposes of preaching the good news to the poor, healing the brokenhearted and the blind, setting free those who are on bondage and oppressed, and restoring what was the Father’s original plan of blessing for His people.
The Father’s original plan was for Adam and his wife to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and to have dominion over the world that He had created for them – the dominion that was later to emerge as the reason why the Anti-Christ was there, manipulating, deceiving and usurping the role from the first human beings. The authority that was with Adam eventually fell into his hands through his deception of Eve.
The first Adam failed to fulfil his destiny as designed by the Father. Jesus came as the “Second Adam” and wrested the authority back from the Devil. The Anointing He had received made available by the Holy Spirit is also available for every man and woman to enter into what had been the plan of the Father all along for them.
But to achieve this, it must be done in Christ, in the Son of God who became Man but who depended on the power of the Spirit to enable Him to assume His rightful position to rule on earth.
“This same anointing is available for every man and woman who is in Christ, the Anointed One, in order that they can reign in this life,” said the Rev Dr Wee. The Rev Dr Wee asked the congregation whether they could see how the Anti-Christ would alter the course of what Christ Jesus has won for them.
“Can we understand why it is important for us to distinguish this anti-Christ by their denial that Jesus had come in the flesh? If Jesus Christ had not come in the flesh, then what He was able to accomplish in His life and ministry here on earth would not be accessible to us as well.”
Jesus was both divine and human. He was God but He did not regard His equality with God as something He could not give up. By His life and actions, He showed us how to live and be truly human as God has originally intended for us to be, in the power of the Anointing.
Truly God and truly Man, Jesus gave up His rights to act as God, depending only on the power of the Holy Spirit in His life and ministry.
“By so doing,” said the Rev Dr Wee, “Jesus showed us humans how by being truly so human His way, we also become partakers with His divine nature: we become like God Himself – Christ-like, anointed, continuing the ministry that He initiated.
This is only possible with the unction. “What have you been doing with the unction that has been given to you? If the unction is not increasing in you, you need
to ask why.”
The four ‘more discernable’ issues TRAC faces
TRINITY Annual Conference (TRAC) President Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup dwelt on various important issues, of which four re more discernable, in his address for 2008. He delivered his President’s Address on the second day of the 33rd Session of TRAC at Paya Lebar Methodist Church.
One issue was the rate of growth in TRAC which has been marginal, and is unevenly distributed over the 20 churches. Churches may decrease for a variety of reasons like death, transfer, termination, removal by Local Conference action, although it may be baptising and receiving more persons.
A fairer way to look at statistics, he said, is to look at the number baptised and the increase in new persons attending worship services.
Another area of concern has been the erratic trend in ministerial intake. While it may be right to assign to the pastor the responsibility to preach and to make an altar call to serve the pastoral ministry at least once a year, all lay church leaders are beholden to consider whether they should be similarly called and to look for others to help them assess what might be a divine call on the matter.
Looking upon the ordained ministers as “priests” with special rights is a backward step: the truth is that every believer is a priest in full-time ministry.
A third area of concern is that of the large number of migrant workers in Singapore, many of whom are worshipping in our church services. We should, at the same time, recognise that they need help to achieve social justice in the tradition of John Wesley.
In this regard, the Executive Board has approved the setting up of a Pro-tem Committee on Migrant Work to lay the groundwork for a long-term ministry to migrant workers.
Yet a fourth area is that of the issue which resulted in the Methodists in the Marketplace Conference (M2 Conference) held as the result of the lack of response from adults in the late 20s to the 40s age group to the Young Methodist Leaders Conference held earlier.
The Rev Dr Wee said it was realised that the average working Singaporean spends between 60 and 70 per cent of his or her time in the workplace. The call to church ministry and leadership will have to be balanced against these adults’ working life. Yet, the effectiveness of the church to respond to the needs of the world requires leaders who have shown their ability to exercise influence in the marketplace.
The M2 Conference is thus about translating what we have learned and normally do in church ministry into the workplace environment by applying biblical principles in commercial, financial and human resource matters.
Earnest Lau is the Associate Editor of Methodist Message.