The Last Sunday
Today is the last Sunday of 2021. In a few days, we will enter into 2022. It was another year that wasn’t easy. We expected that the crisis of Corona Virus would be over this year and go back to normal life. But the virus will not go away easily. We got the highest number of Covid infection since the beginning of this pandemic on Christmas Eve. Yesterday, it went over 10,000. I feel like this crisis is just beginning again.
Also as a pastor, it wasn’t an easy year. Because of the decision of the Presbyterian Church in Canada regarding the homosexual marriage and ordination, I saw many people struggling with the decision, especially the KSM congregation. Some people left the church. Even though they are here, they are not like before. They seem distant from the church.
As a pastor, I know that this is an important issue but I don’t believe that it is an issue that should divide the church and people’s relationships. I don’t think it has decisive effect on our spiritual growth and spiritual life. There may be people who have different opinions on this matter. But I don’t believe that whatever we think should be a reason for us not to be able to coexist. We can respect each other’s opinions and live in harmony. That was the spirit of the General Assembly’s decision.
I may have more open attitude towards this issue than some of you, but that does not mean that my preaching and teaching have been away from the Scripture. I have tried to be faithful to the teachings of the Scripture and will continue to do that. Personally, I read many books and encounter many opinions on various issues, but I don’t teach and preach anything without carefully examining it. I select what to teach carefully so that it is beneficial for all of you and it is Scripturally sound. I believe that is my responsibility and my calling. I have preached and taught for last 30 years at this church but I can confidently say that I gave my whole heart to study the Scripture, understand it and teach what is the best for you.
I hope that our hearts may not be divided because of this issue. I hope that we can all work together, respecting each other.
Peace of Christ
St. Paul said today.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)
St. Paul said we are all called in the one body. I pray that the peace of Christ may rule in our heart. It shouldn’t be anger or hatred that rule in our heart. It has to be the peace of Christ. And it is the peace of Christ that unites us. God clothed us with holy characters.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience – that is what God clothed us with. We should not take off these clothes. When we take off these clothes, anger, hatred, and darkness will flood in and fill our heart with negative emotions. God clothed us with these good qualities so that he may protect us from evil desires.
Even when times are difficult, we should be kind and gentle. We should be always humble. And we should practice our patience. This is what believers do.
Of course, we all fail once in a while. We make mistakes. We sometimes take off clothes God clothed us with. But we should clothe ourselves back again with God’s good characters.
Forgive One Another
St. Paul said again.
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:13, 14)
He said, forgive each other. When you forgive each other, then reconciliation is possible. If we have the attitude of self-righteousness, reconciliation is not possible. Behind every broken relationship, there is hurt, pain, disappointment, and misunderstanding. We do that to each other many times without really knowing what we are doing. It’s not because we want to hurt others intentionally. Sometimes we just do and we don’t know that we do. We all need to forgive each other and experience the joy of forgiveness.
I see a lot of broken relationships around me. During this Covid time, I have counselled more people than before. It saddens me. How much they must have gone through during that process.
When we are willing to forgive each other, I believe that our relationships will get better. Forgiveness is something weak people cannot do. Only strong people can forgive. But that doesn’t mean that forgiveness comes from a sense of superiority. The strength that I am talking about is the strength that comes from humility. It is the confidence that comes from the experience of being forgiven yourself. When we experience that forgiveness ourselves, we can forgive others.
That is the kind of forgiveness Jesus showed us. The more you feel indebted, the deeper appreciation you have about the forgiveness you received. With that appreciation, we forgive others too. Isn’t that what Jesus taught us in his prayer?
…forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Love Above All
Then St. Paul said, clothe ourselves with love above all.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14)
Love binds everything together in perfect harmony. Without love, nothing we do will bring about perfect harmony. When there is love, we will be able to see the perfect harmony.
Jesus came to teach us that love. He practiced that love and lived out that love. By doing that, he showed us what love was. We are his people who know that love. Only that love makes our life perfect.
Love is not easy. Love can be painful. But only love can defeat darkness. When love is gone from us, the beauty of life will be gone. When love is restored, our life will be restored. And joy of life will be restored.
I just reflect on a few things for us to remind ourselves before the new year. Let us take off clothes that have become tainted and old. Let us clothe ourselves with the new clothes. One thing good about knowing Christ is to know that our past cannot define our future.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In 2021, we have experienced many regrets, pain, and failures. Now we can lay them down before Jesus’ feet. In Christ, we can become new.
May God give you a new clothes in the new year. Let us rise again.
St. Paul’s last words.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16, 17)
Let us live like this.