30 June 2019
1 Kings 19:16,19-21
The Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’ Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.
Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him. These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.
As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free.
As I write this, I have just about recovered from a small bout of flu (runny nose and a bit of a cough) and am doing physio on my shoulder, which I injured 3 weeks ago at a prep camp for the Youth Conversion Experience Retreat, which I was privileged and blessed to serve as a facilitator in last week. What a life-giving experience it was as 130-odd young adults (between 18 and 29 yrs of age) encountered Christ and were liberated from their spiritual chains.
At the last P&W session, I was literally running between the retreatants as everyone was lifting their hands to God and thanking Him for freeing them from their bondages. Over the 4 days of ministering, I had learnt a lot about bonding as a ministry, and being part of a community who truly cared for, and shared in, each others’ wounds. During one of the paraliturgies, I was led by the Holy Spirit to come to a greater understanding about my ‘father wounds’ and I believe it enabled the spirit to speak through me to the retreatants who approached me during the session.
I was also blessed to have witnessed first-hand, the zeal, passion, honesty and raw emotion present in the magnificent army we have at CSC. The young adults who, despite being at various life stages (some are just starting families, some are in university, some have just started their first jobs), gave everything they had emotionally, spiritually and physically to the cause. We adults truly have much to learn from this bunch of committed ministry members. Sure, there were hiccups along the way (and a few ‘meltdowns’) but as I watched them sing during a healing session, I was moved to tears. There must have been 30 or more of us signing from our vantage point in the hall and I had never, in all my 8 years in ministry, seen this kind of fervour. Indeed, we were turning a melody into weapons for God – swords and flaming arrows against all manner of sin, oppression and against the evil one. Due to privacy restrictions, I could not capture the moment, but I for one would not want to face up against that moving mass of faith and fervour.
I still have the song in my head and it continues to move me – Raise A Hallelujah. There is a youtube video about the genesis of that song and I urge you to search it out so that you can appreciate how a song, when sung from the heart, can truly become a weapon (I am resisting some elaboration here as I don’t want to spoil the moment for you) against unbelief and tear down walls of fear.
Brothers and sisters, the retreat was another heart-wrenching, eye-opening, life-giving experience for me as I was reminded that we, as sons and daughters of God, should NOT be slaves to fear; to anything negative, nor to others. We have been created in His image and surely, He would make us into His most beloved people, free to do whatever we wish, free to enjoy His favour and grace. Free to sing with songs from deep within our hearts, or express our joy and gratitude through the talents He has given us. Because WE ARE GOOD. And that is a sentiment I shared with my brothers and sisters from the St Francis of Assisi group.
So thank you Aaron, AmO to Am4, Ashwin, BE (you know who you are), Ben (what nice feet you have), Brittany, Bryan, Charmaine, Chelsea, Chen Chen, Cheryl ‘llama’, Christa, Daniel, DDP (and your growing tribe!!!), DKong, Dom, Eunice, Fionn, Gabe, ‘GabLong’, Grace (YNWA), Gus, Janice, Jerm, Jerome, JJ, JLA, Joanne, Jolene, John, Jonathan, the 2 Joshes, Jules, Kat, Kelly, Kieran, Marie, Mark, Melly, Melvin (and your beautiful precious daughter), Moira, the 3 Nats, the Nicks, Ollie, Pius (the gentle giant), Rachel, Randall, Ruth, Sam, Sharrrr, Stefan, ‘Stelle’ (who had the courage to ask us in the first place), T(h)eresa, Val, Vic (U2 should engage you for their sound team). Thank you for opening up more possibilities in my spiritual journey and for freeing me to dance among the liberated that Sunday afternoon.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Dear Father, we thank you for making us good. And for counting us worthy to be your sons and daughters.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your tremendous outpouring of graces during the recent YCER. May you always hold the retreatants and us, your humble servants, in your loving arms.