Royal wedding of Will and Kate at Westminster Abbey

It was the most fabulous wedding–a wedding of a lifetime–one in which 1 million people gathered in London to be a part of the celebrations. It was a great moment for the British people, the Monarchy, for England, for all the British Commonwealth, and the world!

May God bless your marriage with many happy days ahead. Congratulations to the “Duke and Duchess of Cambridge”.

Dawn of a new day for Britain, the Monarchy, and the Royal Family. Blessings!

The procession was filled with anticipation and excitement; and the recession was simply grand.  As the newly wedded couple recessed out from the west doors of Westminster Abbey, I actually felt a sense of new excitement–a new couple had just emerged into the world.  It was an excitement that I could not easily express because it felt like this was the couple that may give new hope for restoration of dignity and honor to the British Monarchy.  I do hope and pray that Will and Kate can show young people around the world that marriage can be honored.

The feeling inside was filled with excitement and expectations of happiness and joy for the royal couple.  The Westminster Abbey looked magnificent from the inside and outside.  The camera shots from a birds-eye-view inside the cathedral were amazing.  Too bad the viewing public didn’t get to witness the signing of the marriage certificate; it happened inside in another section of the chapel–away from the cameras.  We had a lot of shots of the guests during the service, of the men and boys choir singing; but it would have been nice to have seen a bit more of the orchestra-musicians too.  I don’t know why they decided to put trees inside the Abbey; it blocked much the view.  Perhaps hanging plants a little higher up by the pillars would have been better.

From a minister’s point-of-view, I thought the wedding service was simple and straight-forward.  The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams presided over most of wedding service.   Tt must have been an honor.  (If given the opportunity, I would have liked to presided over their wedding too—why not? )  The liturgy for the Solemnization of Matrimony was word-for-word from the Book of Common Prayer (Church of England).  The sermon by the Bishop of London was very good—well-thought out and theologically sound–and it challenged the new couple to live spiritual and honorable lives in submission toward one another, and toward God. Thank you Bishop!

( By the way, I would like to get my hands on a copy of the wedding sermon, scripture readings, hymns, and liturgy of the entire service.  If anyone out there is reading this blogpost, any ideas where I can get a copy? )  (photo: by CBC.)

Best wishes to Prince William & Princess Kate

Personally, I’m into the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Vancouver Canucks hockey team right that’s happening right now.  For males, it’s probably not the coolest thing to be so completely dazzled by this ‘wedding thing’ for Prince William and princess-to-be Kate Middleton.  On the other hand, if you’re a female, this is ‘the thing’ to be watching on the television early tomorrow morning.  I’m not trying to be sexist but this is absolutely a ‘woman thing’.  But male or female, this couple has caught the hearts of many people, young and old, rich and poor, all races and nations.

Royal memorabilia are selling all over the place.  My wife plans to buy some Canadian stamps of Will & Kate, and me, maybe a Union Jack.  She wants it for memory’s sake, but I’d get it for the sake of having a potential collector’s item.  And what about the replica of Kate’s famous blue wedding ring?  No, I think I’ll stop there.  There are just too many of those floating around…and who wants to be carrying a huge blue nugget on your finger that’s weighs a pound?

What is it with this wedding that makes it so special?  If you’re a woman, you’re likely going to be caught up into this royal wedding.  This is huge in the commonwealth country of Canada, and equally huge in the United States and around the world.

But why?  Is it because it’s royalty?  Is it because it’s British royalty? Or is it because they look like such an adoring couple?  Why the huge interest?  Why is there not the same level of interest as other royal weddings around the world?  I don’t know why but, as a male, even I’m interested in this wedding.

Will and Kate, have a happy wedding today and a wonderful life together as Prince and Princess (“Duke and Duchess of Cambridge”), and eventually, as future King and Queen of England.  

Here’s my gift of Scripture for this wonderful and happy couple:

Jesus answered, “Don’t you know that in the beginning the Creator made a man and a woman? That’s why a man leaves his father and mother and gets married. He becomes like one person with his wife. Then they are no longer two people, but one. And no one should separate a couple that God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:4-6, ESV)

Happy belated Easter!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Easter has just come and gone. Thank God that Easter is not as commercialized as Christmas.  It’s no wonder I try to avoid the malls at Christmastime. Easter is still the last remaining Christian holiday that has not been overtaken by crass commercialism. Perhaps business marketing strategies have not yet thought up some ingenius ways to make a ton of money out of Easter? (btw, I have nothing against business. God bless our businesses).

Life: Now that Easter has just passed, I wish things in my life could just slow down a little;however, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down much. I haven’t done much serious blogging in a long time but I hate making excuses. If it’s not work, then it’s my class work in seminary that’s taking up much of my time away from blogging and keeping up with what’s going on in the biblical/theological world in the blogosphere.

Role the church council-board chair

Church councils sometimes flounder because leadership are not sure of their purpose, roles, and responsibilities. Here is a great 15 minute video that teaches the role and purpose of church council-board and its council-board chairs. This is put out by the Virginia UM Conference of the United Methodist Church but can be translated for any denomination.

The Role of the Church Council Chair from Vaum Communications on Vimeo.

How much pain did Jesus go through?

Just before Jesus breathed his last breath, he cried out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Did Jesus want to come down from the cross? Did he believe that God had forsaken him?

Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22:1 because he could relate with the pain the psalmist felt. I don’t wish to think that Jesus believed that God his father had forsaken or forgotten about him; nor would I want to think that he wanted to come down from the cross either. But in one’s moment of extreme pain and loneliness, can one’s feeling of pain be separated from one’s belief?

Was all that pain necessary for our salvation?

Was all that pain necessary for our salvation?

In comparison to Jesus, do you think anyone else in this life has endured a similar level of pain Jesus went through?

[ This video on Christ’s passion put together with great music and scenes from the movie “Passion of the Christ” so it might be a little on the graphic side. ]

The state of the church in Canada

There’s a journal article just published on church attendance in Canada.  News but not news.

“Changing Patterns of Attendance at Religious Services in Canada, 1986–2008”.  Author: David E. Eagle, Department of Sociology, Duke University.

Abstract: According to the General Social Survey, the combined rate of weekly and monthly attendance at religious services in Canada has declined by about 20 points from 1986 to 2008. Approximately half of this decline stems from the increase in the proportion of people reporting no religion, who, for the most part, do not attend religious services. The other portion of this decline is attributable to eroding attendance rates among Catholics, particularly older Catholics, and Protestants in Quebec. Attendance rates for Protestants outside of Qu´ebec show signs of increase.  Journal Article here…

Quebec has gone secular and I don’t see much hope there unless there is a spiritual revival.  This study doesn’t separate mainline Protestantism from evangelical Protestantism but I highly suspect that the rise in evangelicalism has balanced out the decline in mainline Protestantism.

Law and Gospel keeps me on the straight and narrow

Have you ever wondered why the Christian life can be joyless, ineffective and lacking in meaning?  It might be that Law and Gospel is missing from the pulpit.  When Law passes for Gospel, and Gospel passes for Law, it begins to sound more like “Law or Gospel” rather than “Law and Gospel”.  As a result, you get a wishy-washy kind of preaching that even infrequent church goers might be able to unconsciously or subtly pick up.  They will exit church the same way they walked in–unchanged, and so they don’t come back.

I love what Michael Horton (a Reformed evangelical theologian whom I respect) speaks about the state of “Law and Gospel” in today’s preaching.

Luther made this hermeneutic central, but both traditions of the Protestant Reformation jointly affirm this key distinction. In much of medieval preaching, the Law and Gospel were so confused that the “Good News” seemed to be that Jesus was a “kinder, gentler Moses,” who softened the Law into easier exhortations, such as loving God and neighbor from the heart. The Reformers saw Rome as teaching that the Gospel was simply an easier “law” than that of the Old Testament; that instead of following a lot of rules, God expects only love and heartfelt surrender. …Full article here (from The Resurgence)

Most Christians haven’t heard of “Law and Gospel” as much as “law” and “gospel”.  These are two different things.  Christians who want to learn how to live out their Christian lives in the joy of the Lord need to hear the Word properly distinguished in the preaching of Law and Gospel.  If Christians want to be theologically grounded, a steady diet of “Law and Gospel” is an important part of one’s spiritual diet. It is food for the soul; it can be transformational and bring joy into one’s walk in the Christian faith.

In my personal discovery of how “Law and Gospel” connects with the preaching of the Word, I have had to redefine my understanding of Law and Gospel and how it is practiced.  What I learned in seminary didn’t align with much of the preaching I heard–even in some Lutheran churches.  This profound the0logy has, some how, gone missing in many churches today.

Note: For pastors, this may be a good book to pick up from a solid Lutheran perspective: Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible by C. F. W. Walther, Concordia Publishing House, 2010. 592 pp.

Christians in China’s house churches still being persecuted

For people who think that the Communist government in modern China is no longer persecuting Christians who worship in house churches, here is very recent news.  Though China (PRC) seems to be modernizing, their human rights and freedom of religion is still far behind.

By The Associated Press | The Canadian Press 2 hour 51 minutes ago

BEIJING, China – Beijing police on Sunday detained at least a dozen worshippers from a Christian house church who were trying to hold services in a public space after they were evicted from their usual place of worship.

Leaders of the unregistered Shouwang house church had told parishioners to gather at an open-air venue in Beijing for Sunday morning services, but police, apparently alerted to their plans, taped off the area and took away people who showed up to take part.

About a dozen people were escorted by police onto an empty city bus and driven away.

Christians in China are required to worship in state-run churches, but house churches are becoming increasingly popular, despite being technically illegal and subject to police harassment.

Shouwang had been holding services in a Beijing restaurant until last week, when they were evicted from that venue.

One parishioner who evaded police told The Associated Press that no one made it to the open-air mezzanine where services were to take place. The man would give only his English name, Kane, for fear of police reprisals. …Source here

There is also Christ

This season of Lent is just coming to a close as we enter Easter.  I’ve found it useful to take some time to reflect on Christ and the difference he makes in lives of ordinary people.

Christ can make a difference in the lives of all people.

The light of Christ gives people hope in this dark world.

Where there is despair and hopelessness in our world, there is also Christ.

Where there is hatred, envy and jealousy in our world, there is also Christ.

Where there is dishonor, disrespect, betrayal,and lack of love, there is also Christ.

Where there is unforgiveness, violence and vengeance, there is also Christ.

In this dark world, hope comes when they see the light of Christ.

The lives of many people can be touched because of the difference Christ makes.

“Can this Jesus really make a difference in my life too?”  He sure can.