From The Minister's Desk

Matthew 13:3-9 (NIV) “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” 


Census 2016, released last month, shows that Jesus’ followers and His church should worry whether we the church are going to survive. Following our lectionary, we timely read Matthew 13:1-9, the parable of the sower - told to the first Century Christians who were experiencing much rejection, hostility and discouragement. It is still inspirational and powerful, speaking to us in volumes to not let us wallow in despair. Falling back on Jesus’ promise of the abundant harvest, we are to continue to witness the extravagant generosity and lavishing goodness of the farmer - God.


In a post-Christendom society, how shall we follow the way of Christ and how does the church do its ministry? My theological reflections on our context have led me to read again Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his understanding of the church. His strong argument is that the church is ‘Christ existing as community’. His emphasis on ‘the visibility of the church’ in the world can teach us theological wisdom on how to serve the church even though his context and ours may appear vastly different. While we may not be experiencing Nazi Germany, there exists other forms of social control masquerading behind rampant commercialisation, quest for technological solutions, and an increasingly self-obsessed society. This is at the cost of our relationship with God and His creation as the church becomes less and less visible. The recovery of the visibility of the church entails a confidence in our most basic acts that make us the church of Jesus Christ - that is, the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Holy Communion. Bonhoeffer writes,
“The Church of Jesus Christ claims space in the world for its proclamation. The Body of Christ becomes visible to the world in the congregation gathered around the Word and Sacrament.” [The Cost of Discipleship, p 223]


While I’m no science expert, the process of photosynthesis can also be viewed symbolically. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesise nutrients for its growth. The by-product of this process is that the plant generates oxygen – life giving air. As we continue to grow and absorb the Sun, we will give new life to our surrounding community who will look to the church during its gasp for air and reprieve from sin. Giving oxygen to our surrounding community is how we can be truly visible.


On the Vitality Consultation process, I am grateful for our parishioners and the Church Council’s confidence in the way that we work for the visibility of the church through the Word and the Holy Communion. It is my prayer that God’s blessings be upon those who try to joyfully emulate the love and generosity demonstrated by the sower in the parable, by doing the ‘little good deed’ done in response to someone else’s need.

Yangrae (Ray) Son, Minister of the Word.
[from Minister's Report to AGM, 2017]