Heads of state worshiped shoulder to shoulder with heads of churches at the recent National Day Thanksgiving Service organized by the National Council of Churches, Singapore.
By Dawn Seow
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
These parting words of Jesus revealed His desire for His church to stay united, loving not just God and their neighbors, but each other as well.
Terry Kee, Bishop of Lutheran Church in Singapore shared a message based on these words of Christ. He was speaking at the National Day Thanksgiving Service organized by National Council of Churches of Singapore on Aug. 16. Kee is also the president of the NCCS.
Bishop Kee reminded the congregation that while the Great Commandment emphasized loving God and loving people, Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment, which was to love one another. When the phrase “one another” is used in the Bible, it always refer to the Body of Christ, which is the church.
“In Christ we are brothers and sisters, and the call of God is for us to love one another; through this, people will know that we are disciples of Christ,” Kee explained.
Reading from Deuteronomy 6:20-25, he also reminded Christians that beyond loving God, they also needed to mentor and instruct the next generation about what is right in the sight of God.
“Our children learn as they observe us,” he said. “Do we show them that we pray through our problems and depend on God? If we don’t, they won’t know what to do when they face problems too.”
This unity among churches that the bishop spoke of was evident at this special Thanksgiving Service held at St Andrew’s Cathedral last Thursday evening. Every year since 2004, this service is held in August to mark Singapore’s National Day. This special service has become an occasion for clergy and lay leaders of the Church, politicians, government officials and civic and community leaders to come together to praise and thank God for His merciful blessings on Singapore and to pray for the country’s continued peace, prosperity and stability.
Dominic Yeo, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God Singapore said: “To see the different denominations put aside their variation in theology and styles of worship and come together to pray for our nation shows the unity of the churches in Singapore. It is the prayer of Christ that the churches stay united as one Body.”
Dr. Wee Boon Hup, President of Methodist Church in Singapore shared the same sentiments. “I believe it (the service) is a platform to demonstrate unity among the different churches in Singapore.”
The service took the congregation through thanksgiving and prayer, anthems and Scripture reading and a sermon. Two choir groups offered beautiful renditions of worship songs in the English, Chinese and Tamil, showing the diversity of races and languages in Singapore.
His Excellency, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, together with his wife Mary, and a number of political leaders, were also in attendance. Speaking to City News after the service, the President commented: “This is a wonderful expression by the churches in Singapore; it shows how much they cherish Singapore and want to keep the country going, not just for this generation, but also for the generations to come.”
A VISION FOR CHRISTIANS IN SINGAPORE
In an interview with City News, Bishop Kee shared that his vision for the Body of Christ in Singapore is to see individual Christians do more for the underprivileged in Singapore, and for them to recognize their roles and responsibilities in the nation.
“It is important for the Body of Christ in Singapore to love and be compassionate,” he said. “Christians must recognize the need to serve the nation in four aspects: in strengthening family; disciplining the next generation; standing in the gap to pray for the nation; and being part of the solution.”
Canon Louis Tay, Associate Vicar of St Andrew’s Cathedral, said he would like to see the Body of Christ in Singapore become a blessing to its community.
“This event is meant to get churches together to pray for the nation; we are blessed to be a blessing, but more than the blessing of material things, we need to bring the blessing of knowing Jesus into people’s lives. My vision for the churches in Singapore is for them to finish world evangelism starting from this region. People need to hear the message of Christ, and it is our responsibility to bring the message to them.”