28 November 2017
Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, ‘You have had a vision, O king; this is what you saw: a statue, a great statue of extreme brightness, stood before you, terrible to see. The head of this statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet part iron, part earthenware. While you were gazing, a stone broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue, struck its feet of iron and earthenware and shattered them. And then, iron and earthenware, bronze, silver, gold all broke into small pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth. This was the dream; now we will explain to the king what it means.
‘You, O king, king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given sovereignty, power, strength and glory – the sons of men, the beasts of the field, the birds of heaven, wherever they live, he has entrusted to your rule, making you king of them all – you are the golden head. And after you another kingdom will rise, not so great as you, and then a third, of bronze, which will rule the whole world. There will be a fourth kingdom, hard as iron, as iron that shatters and crushes all. Like iron that breaks everything to pieces, it will crush and break all the earlier kingdoms. The feet you saw, part earthenware, part iron, are a kingdom which will be split in two, but which will retain something of the strength of iron, just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together. The feet were part iron, part earthenware: the kingdom will be partly strong and partly weak. And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in the seed of man; but they will not hold together any more than iron will blend with earthenware. In the time of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms, and itself last for ever – just as you saw the stone untouched by hand break from the mountain and shatter iron, bronze, earthenware, silver and gold. The great God has shown the king what is to take place. The dream is true, the interpretation exact.’
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’ And they put to him this question: ‘Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?’
‘Take care not to be deceived,’ he said ‘because many will come using my name and saying, “I am he” and, “The time is near at hand.” Refuse to join them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened, for this is something that must happen but the end is not so soon.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there; there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’
“…everything will be destroyed.”
I recently attended a worship leader’s workshop, conducted by a youthful-looking praise and worship leader who had been invited by our spitirual director to devote a weekend to imparting to some of us his experiences on leading worship. Naturally, some of the more ‘seasoned’ leaders were a bit sceptical but I could sense the mood in the room lift almost immediately after the two-hour introductory session held on a Friday evening after work.
For me, this was more than just a ‘wake up’ call because the trainer (let’s call him that) truly lived and breathed his vocation. He explained to us what worship was in no uncertain terms and said that as musicians/vocalists, we had no other choice but to worship God from our hearts because He had given us our talents. Of course, God has a wicked sense of humour and at the closing mass, the gospel of the day was the Parable of the Talents.
I came away thinking ‘Wow, if this is how our worship sessions will be like from now on, things are definitely going to change for the centre’. As for me, I would have to rid myself of the fears and anxieties that I had been harbouring all this while, after one of our worship leaders told me that I was going to be called upon soon to lead worship. Looking back, while I have been obedient in supporting the P&W sessions, I had become ‘comfortable’ taking a back seat and just taking direction from the worship leaders who have been at it for more than a decade.
Brothers and sisters, we live in a time of disruption, where old ways of doing things are being challenged and all our previous playbooks are being torn up. I’d like to suggest that even our faith practices need to be re-examined; that while we have our liturgical norms to anchor our practices on and adhere strictly to, we must be prepared that new forms of praise and worship may be more relevant in today’s context, especially for those of us who wish to evangelise to the youth. It was truly edifying to have been part of a weekend where we shared and mingled with our youth who were passionate, energetic and full of missionary zeal in spite of their troubles and shortcomings.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer – Abba Father, help us to accept that we are meant to be your instruments of faith and to always rise up to the challenges we face, safe in the knowledge that You are with us.
Thanksgiving – We thank you Father, for all the blessings you have given to us and especially for the talents you have blessed us with.