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Crown Him with Many Crowns 5: Crown him the Lord of years! (I)

2021.03.06/07

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

This is the 5th and final article (in 2 parts)  on “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” which is the theme of 2021 at RCAC. Taken from the hymn with the same title, we have seen that this means worshipping Christ who is “the Lamb upon the throne,” “the Lord of love” and “the Lord of peace.” Let us worship Christ the King for who He is, as the focus of our lives in the new year, and live confidently in the King’s presence, despite the pandemic. Let us now also Crown him the Lord of years!

The truth underscored here by the hymn writer Matthew Bridges is that Jesus Christ is the sovereign and almighty Lord of time and space.

“Crown him the Lord of years, The Potentate of time,–Creator of the rolling spheres, Ineffably sublime!

Glassed in a sea of light, Where everlasting waves reflect his throne,–the Infinite!

Who lives,–and loves–and saves.”

Yes, the amazing brilliance of the universe displays and reflects the glory of God the creator and Christ the King on His throne. Indeed, Jesus Christ is not only our Saviour, He is also the “potentate of time.” According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Potentate” has the following definition:

POTENTATE po’-ten-tat (dunastes, “mighty one,” from dunamai, “to be able”): A person who possesses great power and authority. Only in I Timothy 6:15 , “the blessed and only Potentate” (= God)…

As seen in the above definition, in the Bible the word translated as “potentate” is found only in the charge of Paul to Timothy to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign (potentate, dunastes), the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (I Tim 6:13-16)

Christ the King is the blessed and only Sovereign (potentate, dunastes), the all-powerful creator of the universe, who deserves all our praise and worship. This is the reason for the charge of Paul to Timothy (and to us), and in view of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are several things in this charge that we need to note:

  1. We need to keep this commandment without spot or blame.

Our charge is “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.” (14) Here the “commandment” (the command) refers first to the pastoral duties laid upon Timothy (in Ephesus, I Tim. 1:3-20; 6:2c-5). But broadly speaking it refers to the entire body of sound teaching Paul had been describing throughout the letter. By his own godly life and faithful ministry, Timothy was to preserve this body of truth from stain or reproach. Our worship of the King is not just lovely sounding praise, but our spiritual worship or reasonable service before God. (Rom. 12:1,2)

  1. We must be faithful till the second coming of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Faithfulness to serving the King is ultimately living our lives with the anticipation of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ comes, and only then will our spiritual battle be over. Paul says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (I Tim 6:12)

  1. We know the Jesus Christ will return “at the proper time” known only to God.

One of the hardest things in our Christian life is to discern what it means by Christ is the “Lord of years.” One thing we all want to discern is His timing and His will in our lives, and ultimately when he will return, which is the ultimate source of our hope. While Jesus was on earth, Jesus Himself even admitted that only God the Father knows when the end will come. Here “the proper time” or “the right time” in the original Greek is simply “the time” (kairos) which means “the season or opportunity,” the idea of proper or right time is implied. There is another word in ancient Greek for time “chronos” which refers to chronological time. The important thing is not exactly “when” Christ will return, but that He will return.

  1. We will praise God the ultimate ruler of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

“To crown Him with Many Crowns” is described in the inspiring doxology to the God who is the Creator, the ultimate Ruler of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The apostle John declares, “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14) Such a Lord deserves an awesome reverence combined with complete humility. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen

(To be continued in Crown him the Lord of years! (II)

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Simon Lee

擁戴主基督為王之(5): “擁戴主基督為萬世之王” (上)

2021.03.06/07
作者:李耀全牧師

親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

本文為教會2021年度的主題“擁戴我主為王”,按照同名詩歌而撰寫的第五篇心聲,亦為最後一篇(共分上、下兩次刊登)。我們已於前文探討過詩歌中有關擁戴基督為王的幾方面:“擁戴寶座上的羔羊”、“擁戴愛之君王”及“擁戴和平之君”。讓我們在這新的年度裡集中於,按照神的本體和屬性去敬拜祂為王,儘管疫情肆虐,我們仍然能夠存著信心活在君王基督面前。讓我們同來擁戴主基督為萬世之王!
詩歌作者Matthew Bridges在詩歌的第四節強調的真理是:耶穌基督是至高無上、統管時空的全能主。

“擁戴我主為王,祂是萬世之王([統管]時間的大能者,Potentate of time) ,
宇宙天體乃主創造,榮美無可比量,
齊來頌讚救主!你曾為我受死,
讚美尊貴榮耀救主,直到永世無窮。”
誠然,宇宙穹蒼的奇妙輝煌展示並反映出神榮耀的創造和基督永恆的寶座。事實上,耶穌基督不僅是我們的救主,祂也是那”統管時間的大能者”(The Potentate of time,萬世之王) 。根據“國際標準聖經百科全書” “Potentate”一詞的定義如下:

POTENTATE po’-ten-tat (希臘文dunastes, “大能者” 的字根為 dunamai :”大有能力”):指一個擁有強大權力和權威的人。此詞在聖經中,提前6:15形容為:”那可稱頌的、獨一的全能者“(= 神)…

如上所述的定義,在聖經中,這”大能者“一詞只用於保羅對提摩太的囑咐:”…你當毫無玷污,無可指摘地持守這命令,直到我們主耶穌基督的顯現。15到了適當的時候,那可稱頌的、獨一的全能者,萬王之王,萬主之主,必把基督的顯現表明出來。16只有他永遠不死,住在不能接近的光裡,沒有人見過他,人也不能看見他。願尊榮和永遠的權能都歸給他。阿們。”(提前 6:13-16)

基督君王是那可稱頌的,也是唯一的至高無上主宰(權能、大能者),宇宙的全能創造者,配得我們所有的讚美和尊崇敬拜。這也正是保羅因著主耶穌基督的第二次再臨,囑咐提摩太(和我們)的原因,在這囑咐中,我們必須注意下列的幾方面:

1. 我們應當毫無玷污,無可指摘地持守這命令(14節上)。 這裡的”命令”(誡命):首先是指保羅在以弗所對於提摩太牧養職責的囑咐(提前1:3-20; 6:2-5) 。但從廣義上而言,這裡指的是保羅在全書中描述的整全教導。提摩太以他敬虔的生命和忠心的事奉,保存真理不受玷污及無可指摘。我們對君王的敬拜不僅僅在於美妙歌聲的讚美, 屬靈的敬拜(spiritual worship),而是我們在神面前理所當然的事奉(“reasonable service”)。(羅12:1-2)

2.我們必須保持盡忠,直到我們的主耶穌基督第二次再臨 (14節下) 。
過盡忠事奉君王的生活基本上是連繫於對我們主耶穌基督第二次再來的期待。我們的屬靈戰爭唯有在基督再來時才會止息。故此,保羅說,”要為信仰打那美好的仗,持定永生你是為這永生而蒙召的,又在許多的證人面前承認過美好的信仰。” (提前 6:12)

3.我們知道耶穌基督會在那只有神知道的”適當的時候”再來
我們基督徒生活中最難以明白的事情之一,就是辨明基督是”萬世之主”(統管時間的大能者)的含義。我們都很想辨明神在我們生活中的時間和旨意,以及祂最終何時會回來,這是我們終極盼望的源頭。當耶穌在世上的時候,祂曾表示這世界的末了只有父神才知道是什麼時候。此處的“適當時間”(新譯)或“到了日期” (和合)在希臘文是:“時機”(kairos),意即“時段或機會”,暗示著適當的時候與時機。古希臘語中還有另一個字詞去計算時間的,就是”年代排列的順序(chronos),即指時間的順序。其實,重要的不是基督“什麼時候”回來,而是祂必會再來。

4. 我們要讚美神是宇宙的終極統治者、萬王之王和萬主之主。
“擁戴主基督為王”詩歌在鼓舞人心的教義中描述神是造物主,宇宙的終極統治者,萬王之王和萬主之主。使徒約翰宣稱,”他們要跟羊羔作戰,羊羔必勝過他們,因為他是萬主之主,萬王之王。那些與羊羔同在、蒙召、被選、有忠心的,也必勝過他們。” (啟17:14)。這樣一位大而可畏的榮美主宰,實在是配得我們完全謙卑俯伏的尊崇與敬拜。願榮耀,權能歸於祂直到永遠!阿門!
(“擁戴主基督為萬世之王”5(之二),下文待續)

主僕,
李耀全牧師

Facing the Trial of Crisis- Father vs Son

2020.02.27/28

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Collins Kung

In the last week’s worship sermon, I talked about King Hezekiah’s facing the trial of crisis. He trusted in the Lord to overcome the crisis. He was facing the invasion by the Assyrian army and the Assyrian general had arrived in Jerusalem.  2 Kings 18:17 “And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Washer’s Field.  Hezekiah was facing the extreme pressure of Rabshakeh, which shaking the confidence of the people in Judah, he chose to go to the House of the Lord to pray. At the same time, he took the initiative to ask the prophet Isaiah for prayer. As a result, God sent a message of comfort and deliverance to him through the prophet. Hezekiah’s performance is in sharp contrast with his father Ahaz.

Chapter 16 of 2 Kings wrote:  Ahaz, the father of King Hezekiah, king of Judah in the southern kingdom, began to reign.  The Bible describes him as an evil king. Unlike his father David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree and even burned his son as a sacrifice. At that time, the northern kingdom of Israel and Judah were in a state of hostility. The northern kingdom allied with the Syria kingdom, Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem. They besieged Ahaz.

Isaiah chapter 7 wrote about the crisis at that time. Isaiah 7:2 “When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” God told the prophet Isaiah to comfort Ahaz. Isaiah 7:3 “And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. God was even willing to give a sign to Ahaz so that he could relax and calm down. This sign is the famous Immanuel prophecy in the Bible. Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”.

However, Ahaz ignored it and chose to rely on Assyria to rescue Judah from the plight. He sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria and said, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.”  He took the silver and gold that was found in the House of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.  Later, he personally went to Assyria to meet with the King of Assyria, introduced the Assyrian altar, built another Assyrian altar in the House of the Lord, and offered sacrifices there. And he moved the bronze altar that was before the Lord from the front of the House, from the place between his altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of his altar. This showed that Ahaz has no God in his heart.

The same crisis, the same place, but different reactions. Let’s reflect deeply on the reactions of the two kings, hoping that you and me, whether in adversity or prosperity, can trust in God, remembering that we are redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ through His precious blood.

面對危機的考驗 – 父與子的對比

2020.02.27/28
作者: 龔敏光牧師

在上星期的崇拜,我講到希西家王面對危機的考驗,他專心倚靠神而渡過危機。他面對亞述大軍入侵的危機。當時亞述將軍來到耶路撒冷。王下18:17「亞述王從拉吉派他珥探、拉伯撒利和拉伯沙基率領大軍,往耶路撒冷,到希西家王那裡去。他們就上來,去到耶路撒冷。他們到達以後,就站在上池的引水道旁,在漂布地的大路上。」面對拉伯沙基的極限施壓,動搖猶大國上上下下的信心,希西家選擇上耶和華的殿去禱告,同時亦主動找先知以賽亞代禱。結果,神藉先知送上安慰解救的信息。希西家的表現與父親亞哈斯形成強烈的對比。

列王紀下16章記載南國猶大王希西家王的父親亞哈斯登位,聖經形容他是個惡王,不像他祖宗大衛行耶和華他的神看為正的事。他在邱壇上,在山岡上和所有青翠的樹下獻祭和焚香,甚至焚燒他的兒子為祭。當時的北國以色列與猶大正處於敵對狀態,北國與亞蘭國結盟,並且亞蘭王利汛與以色列王利瑪利的兒子比加上來攻打耶路撒冷。他們把亞哈斯圍困起來。

以賽亞書第7章記載了當時的危機,賽7:2「有人告訴大衛家說:“亞蘭已經在以法蓮地安營。”王的心和人民的心就都震動,像林中的樹被風搖動一樣。」神吩咐先知以賽亞去安慰亞哈斯。賽7:3「耶和華對以賽亞說:“你和你的兒子施亞雅述出去,在上池的水溝盡頭,就是在漂布者田間的大路上,去迎接亞哈斯。」神甚至願意向亞哈斯發出兆頭,讓他可以放下心頭大石。這個兆頭就是聖經有名的以馬內利的預言。賽7:14「因此主自己必給你們一個兆頭:看哪!必有童女懷孕生子;她要給他起名叫‘以馬內利’。」

可是,亞哈斯沒有理會,他選擇倚靠亞述解救猶大的困境。他差派使者去見亞述王提革拉毗列色,說:“我是你的臣僕,你的兒子,求你上來,救我脫離那起來攻擊我的亞蘭王和以色列王的手。”他拿耶和華殿裡和王宮寶庫內的金子和銀子,送給亞述王作禮物。後來,他親自到亞述會見亞述王,引入了亞述的祭壇,在耶和華的殿裡另建亞述祭壇,在那裡獻祭,卻把耶和華面前的銅祭壇,從殿從新壇與耶和華殿中間移至新壇的北邊。由此可見,亞哈斯心中從骨子裡沒有神。

相同的危機,相同的地點,不同的反應。兩個王的表現藉得我們深思,盼望你與我不論在逆境或順境,都能專心倚靠神,謹記我們是藉著主耶穌基督的寶血買贖回來歸給他。

Again, and Again

2021.02.20/21

From the Pastor’s Desk: Pastor Alex Poon

Have you begun to notice that your days are beginning to blur together? Are you beginning to realize you’re forgetting which day of the week it is?

It might be because all our days seem to be so similar now. Our routines are the same day in and day out as we find ourselves spending more time safely at home. Each morning begins in the same way, and each bedtime routine follows the monotony of the day before.

I’ve noticed the same repetitions in my life. And I know others feel the same. Just some enjoy the same routines more than others.

I realize that for me and others who continue to work, we have tasks to separate our weekdays from weekends.  At least we’re more prone to recognize the date on the calendar. But for those of you who are retired, I wonder how you’ve been able to separate your days apart?

While our days may all look similar, let us be sensitive to the nuances of each fresh day.

Monotony or routine can be exciting and fun in their own unique ways. Because through the sameness, you’ll really notice the subtle differences. You’ll notice the smaller variations that rise up above the stillness. You’ll notice the distinct conversation you had today that you didn’t have yesterday. You’ll notice the thought that peaked your curiosity today, that didn’t come to mind yesterday. You’ll notice the budding leaf that’s grown on your living room plant that wasn’t there the day before. Or you’ll notice how the patch of snow you encounter on your daily walk has been turning to water, day by day.

But on the other hand, let’s not deny that the same routine can cause a level of dreariness, or boredom – especially if we’re in a constant state of waiting for the “more”.

I recognize that in this temporary season, while we’re all living under Provincial Health Orders, it may be harder than usual to find the moments of our tomorrow to look forward to. We wonder what the next day will bring and if there will be anything to look forward to. But there is. There’s a blessing in tomorrow’s monotony, because this again-and-again is a direct reflection of the God we worship.

He is God of again-and-again.

God calls the oceans tides to crash against the rock of the cliff day after day, hour by hour, minute after minute, seconds apart.

God causes the sun to come up each fresh morning. To give rise to each new day’s activities. Then, He causes it to go down again for each night’s good rest.

God circles the clouds around the world and back, travelling the skies – as the song goes, “all-the-day long”.

We might be quick to be lost in the monotony, but God thrives in the routine.

Because for God, every petal that grows on the flower, every wildflower in the fields, every blade of grass on the lawn – while they may look all the same to us, to Him, they are so vastly set apart.

In our over and again, let us be quick to be sensitive to the nuances of the day. There, let us notice a new thought that comes, a new curiosity that arises, and those fresh encounters with a wonderment of who God is.

There are thrilling moments to seek. There are fresh encounters to experience. Our God is a creator God, who creates uniquely each new day.

We have reason to worship God for His nature of again and again. Because the piece of routine that draws our worship, is God’s everlasting grace each fresh day.

We rest upon His mercies, which are new every morning. His steadfast love never runs dry. Great is his faithfulness, for He gifts His grace again and again.

My prayer for you is that you find peace in your everyday routines. There is a beauty in doing things the same over and over again. The more you grow in familiarity with each day, the more you’ll notice the subtle differences of it all. And there, in the peace of routine, may you find comfort that you’ve been gifted with an opportunity to just simply… relax.

週而復始

2021.02.20/21

作者: 潘啟華傳道

您會否已察覺到您對每一天的日子變得模糊不清?就連今天是星期幾也忘記了?

或許是因為我們現在每天日常的生活都似乎是一模一樣,天天如是,大部份時間都是安全地留在家裡。每天早晨起床到晚上就寢都跟前一天沒有太大分別,生活變得單調乏味。

我意識到我的生命也是同樣的重複。我知道其他人也有同樣的感覺。只是有一些人會享受千篇一律的生活模式。

對於我和其他在職的人來說,我們的工作讓我們分辨出平日和週末的日子。至少我們更容易識別日曆上的日期。但是對於您們退休人士來說,我好奇您們如何能夠分隔開您們的日子?

即使我們每一天看起來都是差不多,但讓我們對每一天的細微差別保持敏銳的觸覺。

單調或常規的程序也有其獨特之處令人振奮和快樂。因為不斷的重複,您會真正注意到一些細微的差異。甚至體會到寂靜中的一些微小的變化。您會發覺到您今天和昨天的談話有明顯的不同。您今天的思想靈感比昨天的豐富。您會注意到在客廳的植物今天長出了嫩芽。又或者您會發現每天步行時遇到的積雪,如何一天一天溶化變為水。

但是,另一方面,無可否認常規的程序會導致一定程度的沉悶或厭煩-特別是如果我們一直處於等待「更多」的狀態時。

我意識到這個是暫時性的狀況,我們都生活在省級衛生指令之下,期待明天更美好的時光可能比從前更加困難。我們會質疑明天會怎樣或者有什麼值得我們期待呢。還是有的。明天的不變是一種祝福,因為這週而復始直接彰顯出我們敬拜的上帝。

祂是堅持到底的上帝。

上帝叫海洋潮汐撞向懸崖的岩石,日復日、時復時、甚至逐分逐秒。

上帝使每天早晨太陽升起,帶動新的一天的開始。然後,祂使太陽西沉,讓我們每個晚上有好的休息。

上帝在雲中繞著世界迴盪,沿著天空飛舞,正如詩歌唱頌,“晝夜唱和”。

我們可能會很容易在單調無聊中迷失,上帝卻在常規程序中茁壯成長。

因為對上帝而言,花朵上長出的每一片花瓣,田野上的每一朵野花,草坪上的每片草地-在人看來都是一樣,但在上帝看來,它們卻是每天都有著不同的變化。

讓我們每一天對每一件細微的差別保持敏銳的心。讓我們細心留意新的構思,保持好奇心,以及與神相遇的一些奇妙驚喜。

尋求振奮人心的時刻。體驗全新的經歷。我們的上帝是全能的創造者,祂創造獨特的每一天。

因為我們週而復始的敬拜,領我們經歷上帝永恆的恩典,每日都是新的。

我們仰望祂的憐憫,每天早晨都是新的。祂堅定的慈愛永不枯乾。祂的信實廣大,祂降下恩典,施恩不盡。

我為您們每天起居生活平安祈禱。反複地做同樣的事情都是美的。您們對每天的了解越多,就會越發體會到它們之間的細微的差別。祝願大家輕鬆平安渡過每一天。

Crown Him with Many Crowns 4: Crown Him the Lord of Peace

2021.02.13/14

From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

Peace. World peace. Inner peace. We all want peace. But peace is so fleeting and so elusive.

In the Inauguration of President Biden, the young 22-year-old African American poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, read a composition she wrote called, “The Hill We Climb.” An excerpt on world peace relevant to our thought here is as follows:

Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade.
But in all the bridges we’ve made,
that is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb.

The phrase “everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree” alludes to a verse found in the Bible Micah 4:4. The context of the allusion is a time of peace, a metaphorical time and place where one feels secure. This sense of security allows the people to enjoy their personal freedom without fear of being disturbed by external powers. The passage (Micah 4:3-5) actually speaks of the Lord’s rule of peace, but this predicates on the people following God’s ways. The Biblical imagery is applied to the hope for peace today in America. How wonderful it would be if the truth here is fully applied, for peace would indeed come.

In my graduate training at UBC in professional counselling psychology, I studied the work of world-renowned family therapy pioneer, Dr. Virginia Satir. One of the meditations she wrote was: Peace Within, Peace Between, Peace Among. Even though her aspiration was not based on Christian teaching, nevertheless we can see “peace” is what the world seeks. “Peace” is also what we Christian seeks. But how is the peace that we have different from the world’s?

We had looked at the first and second stanza of Crown him with many crowns (HL#9), which focused on “The Lamb upon his throne” and “Crown Him the Lord of Love.” Now we look at the third stanza: “Crown him the Lord of peace!”

The lyrics is as follows:

Crown him the Lord of peace! Whose power a scepter sways,
From pole to pole,–that wars may cease, Absorbed in prayer and praise:
his reign shall know no end, And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend Their fragrance ever sweet.

The Scriptural imagery and background of this stanza is found in the book of Hebrews, where the author is making the point that the Son is superior to angels. God says of the Son,

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.

You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” (Heb 1:8, 9)

Jesus Christ the King has come to rule with a scepter of righteousness in His hand. His throne is eternal. Therefore we can all rejoice. The author of Hebrews is actually quoting, from Psalm 45:6-7,

“Your throne, O God, is permanent. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of justice. 7 You love justice and hate evil. For this reason God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy, elevating you above your companions.”

We can see the sacrificial Lamb of God, the Lord of Love, is described here as the Lord of peace and righteousness.  What is declared in the Old Testament is the final triumph of King David’s Son, the Messiah, who is also God. Therefore, the author of Hebrews want to underscore the fact that the Son is superior to angels because He is God. The scepter He holds is not only a symbol of power, but of righteousness and justice.  Peace comes from the rule of righteousness and justice by Jesus Christ who is the Lord of Peace.  We can find this concept proclaimed also by the prophet Isaiah in these words found in Isa 9:6, “For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Amazing Adviser, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The messiah King is called the “Prince of Peace.”

The peace that Jesus brings is from the rule of righteousness, but it is not just worldly peace but an inner peace, the peace of Christ himself as Jesus says in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.”  The disciples of Jesus were worried about their well being and security when Jesus their master announced to them that He was leaving them. But Jesus assured them that even though physically He is not going to be with them, He will leave His peace with them. Jesus Emmanuel is “God with us,” and as we abide in Him, He abides in us. That is the assurance we all have in all our troubles, including the current pandemic.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, teaches them to rejoice always and not be anxious about anything. Paul then shows them the secret of overcoming anxiety with these words, “Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.(Phi.4:6,7)  But then he goes further to urge them to walk with Christ constantly as it would result in “the God of peace will be with you,” meaning the indwelling of God of Peace Himself in us always. Yes, pray when you are anxious, you will have the peace of God. But how much better when you live a prayerful life centred in Christ, because in so doing, the God of peace is with you all the time, come rain or shine.

Let us therefore crown Him the Lord of Peace.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Simon Lee

“擁戴我主為王”(4): 擁戴和平之君

2021.02.13/14
作者: 李耀全牧師

親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

平安。世界和平。內在的平安。我們都盼望得著平安。可是平安難尋並且迅間消逝。

22歲非裔美國青年阿曼達·戈爾文(Amanda Gorman) ,於美國總統拜登就職典禮上朗讀了她所撰寫的獲獎詩篇,詩題名為: “我們所攀越的山丘”。詩辭內容為世界和平,其中與本文思想有關的摘錄如下:

聖經教導我們去展望,
各人將安坐在自己的葡萄樹和無花果樹下,
不受任何人的驚嚇。
若我們不辜負這個時代,
勝利不在於利刃刀鋒。
而在於我們築起的橋樑,
就是通往美好境地的承諾,
我們所攀越的山丘。
“各人將安坐在自己的葡萄樹和無花果樹下” ,此句原出自聖經彌迦書4:4。經文背景描繪出一片和平及安居樂業的景象。這份安全感使人民享有個人的自由,而且毋須擔心受到外界力量的干擾。這段經文(彌4:3-5)實際上是論到上主掌權的平安統治,並以神的子民順從神的道路為前提的。聖經的意像被應用於當今美國對和平的盼望。若聖經的真理能充分應用實行出來,和平即將實現,那是何等美好。

筆者於卑斯省立大學接受輔導心理學專業研究培訓時,曾研究世界著名的家庭療法先驅弗吉尼亞·薩蒂爾博士的著作。她的思維重點之一是:內在的平安,彼此間的和平,人際的和平。即使她的意願並非基於基督教的教義,但我們從而可見世人對“平安”的渴求。“平安”亦是我們基督徒追求的目標。可是,究竟我們所擁有的平安與世人所求的平安有何分別?

我們於前已看過生命聖詩第九首: “擁戴主為王”的第一和第二節,重點在於“擁戴寶座上的羔羊為王”和“擁戴愛之王”。我們現在來看第三節:“擁戴和平之君!”。
歌詞如下:
擁戴我主為王,祂是和平之王,
普天之下戰爭停息,和平統治四方,
遍地禱頌聲揚,國權萬世永長,
美花環繞曾受傷足,朵朵歷久芬芳。
以上詩詞的背景和意象出自希伯來書,作者指出聖子遠超越於天使。神論到聖子,如此說:
“神啊!你的寶座是永永遠遠的,你國的權杖,是公平的權杖。”
“你喜愛公義,恨惡不法,所以,神,就是你的神,用喜樂的油膏抹你,勝過膏抹你的同伴。”(來1:8, 9)
君王耶穌基督手中握著公義的權杖施行統治。祂的寶座存到永遠。因此,我們可以滿心喜樂。希伯來書的作者實際上引用了詩篇45:6-7,“神啊!你的寶座是永永遠遠的,你國的權杖是公平的權杖。你喜愛公義,恨惡邪惡,所以,神,就是你的神,用喜樂的油膏抹你,勝過膏抹你的同伴。”

我們可以看到神那被犧牲的羔羊,愛之主在此被描述為和平與公義的主。舊約預言所宣告的,大衛王的兒子 (後裔)彌賽亞的最後勝利,祂就是神。因此,希伯來書的作者想強調一個事實,即兒子是超越、高於天使的。祂手持的權杖不僅象徵著權力,並且象徵著神的義與公義。和平來自和平之主耶穌基督的義和公義的統治。先知以賽亞也藉著以賽亞書9:6中所言來宣揚這觀念:“因為有一個嬰孩為我們而生,有一個兒子賜給我們;政權必擔在他的肩頭上;他的名必稱為“奇妙的策士、全能的神、永恆的父、和平的君”。彌賽亞君王被稱為“和平的君”。

耶穌所帶來的平安來自祂公義的統治,但這不僅是世人所渴求的平安,更是內在的平安,正如耶穌在約翰福音14:27中所說的,是基督自己的平安。“我留下平安給你們,我把自己的平安賜給你們;我給你們的,不像世界所給的。你們心裡不要難過,也不要恐懼”。當主向門徒宣布祂要離開他們時,他們正在擔心自身的安危,耶穌向他們保證,即使祂的肉身不能與他們同在,祂也仍然與他們同在。耶穌以馬內利就是“神與我們同在”,當我們在祂裡面時,祂也在我們裡面。這就是我們之所以能在一切的困境中,包括在病毒大流行當前時的保證與確據。

保羅在寫給腓立比信徒的書信中教導他們應當一無掛慮,要常常喜樂。保羅接著向他們指示出克勝憂慮的秘訣:“應當毫無憂慮,只要凡事藉著禱告祈求,帶著感恩的心,把你們所要的告訴神。這樣,神所賜超過人能了解的平安,必在基督耶穌裡,保守你們的心思意念。”(腓4:6,7)他更進一步地敦促信徒要不間斷地與基督同行,因為這樣就能否達致“賜和平之神就必與你們同在”,意即賜平安之神時刻在我們裡面。是的,當您在心中焦慮時祈禱,您便能得到神所賜的平安。若您過著以基督為中心的禱告生活,您必然體驗其中的美好。如此,賜平安之主必常與您同在,風雨無間。

讓我們同來擁戴我主為和平之君
主僕,
李耀全牧師

Crown Him with Many Crowns 3: Crown Him the Lord of Love

2021.02.06/07
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

At the beginning of a new year (2021) and also as we celebrate our Chinese New Year, it is most appropriate that we celebrate the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is King. This is indeed our hope and prayer after a devastating year of 2020 filled with chaos, and gloom and doom from the pandemic. Biden, the new President of the United States in his Inauguration Speech on January 20, quoted from Psalms 30:5 – “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Indeed, we share this hope and look forward to the dawn when we can all rejoice in the Lord.
We had looked at the first stanza of Crown him with many crowns, which focused on “The Lamb upon his throne. In this article, I would like to share with you the themes of the second stanzas of the hymn (HL #9), which is “Crown Him the Lord of Love.”

The lyrics is as follows:

Crown him the Lord of love!
Behold his hands and side,–
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified:
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye
At mysteries so bright!

Jesus is the Lord of Love

Jesus Christ is King because he is the Lord of love. We are brought to the cross where Jesus Christ the sinless Son of God was crucified for our sins. If we have any question about how much Jesus loves us, we only have to go back at the cross and “behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.” The scene was “beauty glorified” because it symbolized the fulfilment of God’s plan of redemption of all mankind, but at the same time it was so painful that the hymn writer tells us that even the heavenly angels cannot “fully bear that sight.” In contrast Jesus with His head bend down and with “burning eye” (eyes of the King , the Judge) was gazing at this divine mystery, the mystery of the incarnation, the atonement of sin and the defeat of Satan.

This demonstration of true love is described well in the words of John: “For God so love the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Paul puts it this way, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)

One of my favourite hymns is “Love Was When” and the lyrics of the first verse is:

Love was when God became a man,
locked in time and space, without rank or place.
Love was God born of Jewish kin;
Just a carpenter with some fishermen.
Love was when Jesus walked in history.
Lovingly He brought a new life that’s free.
Love was God nailed to bleed and die,
to reach and love one such as I.

Imagine God the creator of the whole universe, “became a man, locked in time and space, without rank or place.” Incredible! Unthinkable! This is LOVE! The hymn writer urges us to ponder on the fact that the sinless Son of God came and “Lovingly He brought a new life that’s free. Love was God nailed to bleed and die, to reach and love one such as I.” Herein is LOVE! We praise God that we are a follower of Jesus who is the “Lord of Love.” We are to worship Him by crowning Him the Lord of Love. What does this mean?

Crown Him the Lord of Love

Apart from quoting from Psalm 30:5, it is interesting that Biden also invokes Augustine in call for American unity based on their common values. As a cradle Catholic, he quoted a teaching of St. Augustine whom he referred to as “a saint of my church” – that “a people are a multitude defined by the common object of their love.” The Church father Augustine in City of God presented love, not law, as the thing that binds a society together. He also wrote, “the soul takes on the character of what it loves.” Biden is appealing to Americans to love and put into practice their common values and therefore be united as a nation.

Applying it further to the Church, Jesus taught “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35) Jesus also underscored the relationship of loving God and following His commandments: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (Jn 14:21) These two dimensions of love described by John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, in these two references is summed up in Jesus’ own summary of the Great commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Jesus is the Lord of love, the very personification of the virtue of love. He urges us his disciples to love God vertically by following His commandments and horizontally by loving one another. Jesus has set an example for us as the Lord of love. His sacrificial love for us should motivate us to respond by loving Him and loving another in Christ. This is what is implied when we sing “crown Him the Lord of Love” as it reminds us to worship God for who He is,” the Lord of Love,” and do so by practising love, for God and for one another.

May we in RCAC all learn to “Crown Him the Lord of Love” in 2021 and beyond!

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee

“擁戴我主為王”(3): 擁戴我主為愛之王

2021.02.06/07
作者: 李耀全牧師

親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

2020年由於病毒大流行而帶來充滿紛亂、愁雲慘霧、厄困和毀滅的一年。於2021年新年之始,也是正當我們在慶祝農曆新年之際,讓我們同來慶祝主耶穌基督是君王的事實,這是最適合不過的了。這確實是我們的盼望和禱告。美國新總統拜登在1月20日的就職禮演說中引用了詩篇30:5 的話:“夜間雖然不斷有哭泣,早晨卻必歡呼”。事實上,我們共同擁有這盼望,並期待著黎明時,我們都可以在主裡歡欣喜樂。

我們於上文曾集中去思想生命聖詩第九首:“擁戴我主為王”詩歌的第一節,重點是“在寶座上的羔羊”。在本文中,我想與各位分享詩歌的第二節,重點在於:”擁戴仁愛之王”。詩詞如下:

擁戴我主為王,祂是仁愛之王,
祂手祂足肋旁受傷,今仍顯明天上,
何等奇妙奧祕,發出榮美光芒,
天使驚奇不敢仰視,一同俯首頌揚。

耶穌基督是愛之主

耶穌基督是君王,祂是愛之主!讓我們來到十字架前,瞻仰神無罪之子耶穌基督,因著我們的罪被釘在十字架上。若我們尚未能明白耶穌有多愛我們,我們只要”回到十字架前,去看“祂的雙手和雙足、看祂的肋旁,祂受傷深刻的釘痕仍然清晰可見,仍在發出榮美光芒”。這情景“在發出榮美光芒”,是因為它象徵著神救贖全人類計劃的應驗,但同時我們可以體驗到詩歌作者描述給我們明白的,是主所忍受極大的苦痛,即使是天上的使者也不忍“全然正視這一景象”。在此,耶穌那“低垂的頭”,相比於祂那“好像火燄的眼睛”(君王、審判者銳利的眼目),在凝視著這神聖的奧秘,道成肉身的奧妙,罪的代贖和撒但的被擊敗。

引用約翰所說的話,可充份透切地將神這真實的愛顯明、示範出來:“神愛世人,甚至把他的獨生子賜給他們,叫一切信他的,不至滅亡,反得永生。”(約3:16)。保羅更如此形容:“唯有基督在我們還作罪人的時候為我們死,神對我們的愛就在此顯明了。”(羅5:8)

我最喜愛的詩歌之一是 “愛就是”。第一節的歌詞如下:

愛就是,神屈尊為人,
受時空限制,無地位權勢;
愛就是,主生在猶太,
為木匠兒子,跟漁夫一起。
愛就是,主降世成就大事,
因愛賜世人新生命福氣;
愛就是,主流血捨身,
妙愛臨到我這罪人。

試想像一下,神是整個宇宙的創造者,“神屈尊成為人,受時間空間限制,無地位權勢”。這實在是不可思議!不可想像的!這就是愛!詩歌作者敦促我們去思考一個事實,就是無罪的神兒子來世:“因著愛神釘死流血捨身,帶來了使人自由的新生命,祂竟然愛一個像我這樣的人”。由此可看到何謂愛!我們稱頌讚美神,因我們能跟隨這位“愛之主”,我們要尊崇祂!“擁戴祂為愛之王”。是甚麼意思?

擁戴祂為愛之主

有趣的是,拜登除了引用詩篇30:5,他還沿用奧古斯丁的教導呼籲美國人民在共同價值觀的基礎上團結一致。自幼身為天主教徒,他引用了聖奧古斯丁的教導,並稱之為“我的教會聖人”,他指出,一個民族是以愛的共同基礎元素所定義的。古教父奧古斯丁在其著作“上帝之城”中提到:能將一個社會聯繫在一起的元素是愛,而不是法律。他還寫道:“靈魂以愛作為品格的厘定”。拜登呼籲美國人要實踐愛,以愛的共同價值觀,達成團結一致。

若以此教導應用於教會,耶穌教導我們:“如果你們彼此相愛,眾人就會認出你們是我的門徒了。” (約13:35)耶穌也強調愛神和遵守神的誡命兩者之間的關係:“那領受我的命令,並且遵守的,就是愛我的;愛我的,我父必定愛他,我也要愛他,並且要親自向他顯現。”(約14:21)。主所愛的門徒約翰描述了耶穌自己總結了愛的兩方面相連關係,祂說最大誡命的總意就是:“你要全心、全性、全力、全意愛主你的神,並且要愛鄰舍如同自己。” (路10:27)

耶穌是愛之主,愛的美善品德的化身。祂敦促我們作為祂門徒的,於上向方面要敬愛神,遵照祂的誡命,於橫向方面要彼此相愛。耶穌為我們樹立了“愛之主”的榜樣。祂為我們捨身的愛是為著要激勵我們要以愛來回應祂,並在基督的愛裡彼此相愛。當我們唱頌“擁戴愛之主為王”時,就是表示,藉此詩歌來提醒我們尊崇敬拜神,因為祂是那“愛之主”,並為愛神而彼此去實踐愛。
願我們列宣家眾肢體能在 2021 年及日後學會怎樣去“擁戴愛之主為王”!

主僕,
李耀全牧師