A sermon preached at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Sunday 11 April by Revd Harry Ching.
In the name of the living God- Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Ver 31: “ But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
The risen Christ’s revelation to Thomas was the very purpose that John’s Gospel was written, in order to fill the gaps left by the three synoptic Gospels.
Easter was not finished at the end of last Sunday, and the Church continues to celebrate Easter until Ascension Day for 5 more weeks. Today is traditionally known as Low Sunday- because of church attendance in contrast to the previous week and perhaps the fatigue due to numerous services. Regardless, we continue with the Easter revelation that Christ was raised from the dead. We have been tasked to share what we have witnessed and the light of Christ with others so that others could testify to the lights after us, hence lectionary editors have selected the 1 John 1 and Acts 4 reading to compliment on the doubting Thomas reading from John’s Gospel. It is also worth mentioning the essence of our communal faith in society from our first reading in Acts chapter 4, that Our Christian faith is not a personal self discernment of private spiritual enlightenment. Trusting our ethos at St. Martin’s reflects the tradition and conviction of the first generation of the apostles. Christians of our time continue to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel. affirming our dedication in Christian service and bringing the Peace of Christ to the world
The constructive legacy of the commonwealth
For many former colonies or current members of the British Commonwealth, there are many locations in the centre of the city where they are named after British royalty. In my native HK, (childhood home to many members of our present congregation) the Queen’s Pier, after Queen Victoria, Princess Edward underground station. Princess Margaret Road and hospital, after Princess Margaret and finally people would often assume the Edinburgh Place, was named after Prince Philip.
Perhaps today it feels like a different kind of low Sunday- I am sure over the past 48 hours people have shared their fond memories of the Prince and fellow members of my home church in HK have shared Prince Philip’s solo visit to the Cathedral in HK in 1959, greeted by Bishop Ronald Hall.
I first came to this country on 31 August 1997, perhaps the atmosphere then was quite similar to our time now. we cannot escape in our thoughts the passing of Prince Philip, a great public servant to this country and Commonwealth. The essence of today’s First Reading from Acts reflects the spirit of the Duke’s contribution in his long life.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s awards also flourished in Hong Kong and other Commonwealth countries. The D of E allows young people to challenge themselves and enhance collaborative work and to test their limits, in response to the six decline of modern youth, ‘ decline of compassion/spiritual deaths (by Archbishop William Temple) was one of the six.
The Church of England is part of the 80 Million strong Anglican Communion worldwide and the third largest denomination worldwide. Anglican representation was particularly strong in commonwealth countries. For truth in Christian values being served in the dominions of the British subject to ensure the integrity of each individual. There were no forced conversions to Christianity unlike other colonial powers, and many Missionary organisations flourished throughout the Commonwealth. The legacy of the Anglican Provinces and missionaries were highly regarded in the eyes of the public regardless of recipients’ religious affiliation. The St. James Settlement, an Anglican welfare organisation to serve the Chinese refugees fleeing the Chinese Civil War post-WWII; and St. Christopher’s home, a Children’s Home to meet the changing needs of the people.
The former Hong Kong central Hospital was a great generosity of the church by Bishop Ronald Hall (ordained the first woman priest in an extraordinary time), allowing medical staff who are refugees a venue to practice medicine. an area of Bishop’s House.
Today the church continues to build bridges in spite of the current climate.
As we mourn the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh, we look to his legacy. We give thanks to his service to the country and the Commonwealth, The life that he touched the faith that he testified- the world Believer (Sheng Tao) writes like this, ‘信徒’ by word and action:
人= man +言 =word, for 信.
and 彳small steps+ 走walk/run, for 徒.
Responsibility in John’s Epistle to share the good news and proclaim the news of salvation through Christ Jesus. To many seasoned Christians, St. Thomas was remembered that he required proof and absolution crystal clear evidence that the world did not allow miracles to happen, but it is the very act of God’s Christ revealed to him in the Upper Room that allowed him to transform from an absolute doubter to a faithful servant and missionary.
The purpose of the Gospel, Christ reveals to Thomas in his resurrection, allows him to go far and wide to the edge of the world and establish a Christain community, and Mar Thomas, pilgrims visit the place of his martyrdom each year.
Although death is unavoidable in Life, (many couples on this isle declare that marriage commitment to one another), but for us as Christians, death is not the end. With Christ, the hope of resurrection allows us the hope to be with our loved ones in the heavenly place.
‘Blessed those who have not seen but yet believe’ – I think we are amongst this group, we were not present at the scene 2000 years ago. However, at least myself is convinced that the testimonies of the Apostles in Paul and Thomas and John reflects the light of Christ, Their tireless mission and selfless sacrifices allow us to become the next generation of Christophers ‘ bearers of Christ’. Hence I have this charge today. We are called to testify the love of God in our actions. The importance of Fellowship and companionship to support each other.
AS we look to a new beginning as we are coming out of a pandemic, we continue to bring the Peace of Christ in this Easter Season and beyond.
Christ is our light shining through the darkness, We share the story of our historical faith that Christ crucified.
Let us pray:
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father. Amen