Come Holy Spirit, renew our hearts
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Over the Christmas break, I attended the Vietnamese National Conference held at Merroo Christian Conference Centre.
Vietnamese Uniting Churches from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney came together to renew their faith and to strengthen their Christian fellowship with worship and praise. The conference’s aim — with its theme of “Go!” (based on Mark 16: 15) — was to equip and train attendees for effective discipleship.
Although I don’t understand the Vietnamese language, I still enjoyed the fellowship and joined in the singing of Vietnamese songs of praise to God which touched my soul in the same way as it did for those Vietnamese-speaking disciples of Christ. Despite our limited communication, as we showed our love for each other, we were inspired to share the good news and encouraged to commit ourselves to evangelism.
Early this year, I took the opportunity to go to a Presbyterian Church service in my local area. At the door, I was warmly welcomed by an elderly couple who said I was very brave to come to the church.
I sat near the exit — so, if needed, I could leave the church unnoticed!
In the pew I saw the familiar small blue book, The Australian Hymn Book (the AHB, as I used to call it). Instantly, I felt at home and had a deep sense of connection with the people in this church who were using this hymn book common to both our heritages.
I thought to myself, “These people could have been Uniting Church members if they had voted to be ‘Uniting’ in 1977 rather than remaining as Presbyterian.”
During the service, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to this Congregation for keeping The Australian Hymn Book, which connected me with the early part of my life in the Uniting Church!
On my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the connectedness and continuity in the church tradition that I had experienced in that service. It made me wonder, “Could we be doing more to achieve the Christian unity we were called to when we were named ‘Uniting’ 30 years ago?” The quiet voice of Christ sounded in my ear saying, “If you have love for one another, others will know that you are my disciples.”
2016 is the year of the Red Fire Monkey, according to the Chinese Zodiac. “Red” means “Go”, and “Fire” means “Passion”. So a year of the Red Fire Monkey would mean one that brings quantum leaps.
This year, with the prospect of a year of quantum leaps, I would like to encourage you to join me to fill 2016 with courageous steps in evangelism, preaching the good news about Jesus. Carrying the message in our own lives that begin with love for one another.
For the Synod meeting which will be held in April this year, the theme is to be a heart-felt prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, Renew Our Hearts.”
It is my prayer for the renewal of our hearts, for restoration of our relationships with each other and with God’s creation and also for the revival of our church as an effective witness to Christ’s ministry of healing and reconciliation.
I earnestly encourage you to renew your commitment as disciples of Christ for the mission of God and join me with this simple prayer — “Come Holy Spirit, Renew Our Hearts!”
Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park
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