From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
Pray for “shalom”
“Ciao” is an Italian greeting that means both “Good-bye” when you are leaving a person or place, and “Hello” when you meet someone when you arrive. This is used in our poster for our “Hongkong Newcomer Prayer Meeting.” In the past eight months we have many such Hongkong newcomers coming to our Church services, especially to the 2 Cantonese services and AYAYA. For many of these people, saying “good-bye” to Hongkong was often a very sad and painful experience. It is not any easier when they arrive here to start anew all over, as saying “hello” must be filled with a lot of mixed feelings which include anxiety and a lot of uncertainty.
I personally have underscored again and again to all our staff that RCAC is politically neutral, and we welcome people, just like us, from the whole socio-political spectrum. Pastor Francis the organizer for the Prayer Meeting agrees fully. Our “Hongkong Newcomer Prayer Meeting” is organised solely to welcome them with open arms, whatever their background maybe, and to pray for them and with them that our Lord will give them peace and joy, and they will settle faster and find a spiritual home.
Interestingly, “shalom” is also a word that comes to mind that means in Hebrew both “good-bye” and ”hello,” used in the greetings among Jewish people even today. Actually, the word is translated most often as “peace” but it is much more than our concept of “peace.” So, in saying “goodbye” or “hello,” we are saying, put simply, “shalom” be with you. In fact, “goodbye” is shortened from “God be with you.” The Christian Community Development Association describes “shalom” this way:
“When God created the heavens and the earth, he wove it all together like a million silk threads forming a dazzling garment never before seen, each thread passing over, under, and around millions of others to create a perfectly complementary, tightly-woven interdependent, amazing whole. This wondrous webbing together of God and man and all of creation is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. Shalom is a word packed with hope for a broken, bruised, and wounded world. It speaks of wholeness, right relationships, justice, salvation, and righteousness, all of which can be missed when we read the English word “peace.” God’s intention for every community is that his shalom would reign.”
Indeed, what we Christians at RCAC have to offer these newcomers is more than a warm welcome. Jesus, the Prince of Shalom (Isa. 9:6), Himself said to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) In this article (I and II), I would like to study and share with you the rich meaning of “shalom.”
Pastor Simon Lee