Tag Archives: Christianity

The Clouds are Gathering

I had wanted to have a cheery post for you today but the dark clouds  over the world have been creeping into my little corner of life.  Truly, there seems no end to the troubles this year.

Bloodshed, cruelty and conflict in Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Kenya, Somalia and Pakistan.  Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

And what is it with all the plane disasters.   MH370 remains missing and then we had the shock of the loss of MH17 over eastern  Ukraine.  Then, there was the TransAsia ATR 72 crash in Taiwan; the Air Algerie AH 5017 crash in the Sahara and finally a young teenager and his father perish when their plane ditches into the sea on the last leg of their round the world  flight as they raised money for schools in Pakistan.

When we watch all these news on TV or on the internet, we cannot not be affected by the sense of tragedy and suffering.  Generally  though, it is happening to people we don’t know and in a place distant from most of us. Still, there is a degree of separation between us and the event.

However, in the last week, that degree of separation was greatly reduced.

It turns out that the daughter-in-law and grandchild of someone I know perished on flight MH 17.  Another friend’s family was on a different flight but was due to have flown over that same airspace at that time except that it turned back to the terminal after experiencing some technical problems while they were on the runway waiting to take off.  Yet another friend  had been working in the Netherlands and had tried to book a seat on the ill-fated  flight to return to Kuala Lumpur.  He eventually flew the next day on the flight with the same call number.

And then, there was the news from Afghanistan.  Two Finnish aid workers with a Christian charity were killed by gunmen in Herat, Western Afghanistan.  Just last month, we played host to a friend visiting from abroad.  He stayed a few days at our home.  He knew both these women.  They had both served and lived in Afghanistan for a few years.  The organisation has been there since 1966 working to providing eye treatment, mental health treatment, and helping communities.

And so, in this way, some of these recent tragedies became a little more real to me.  My response is to pray for God’s mercy for us all.

There is a Graham Kendrik song that always reminds me the need for such a prayer.  Here are just some of the words of the song;

O Lord, over the nations now
Where is the dove of peace?
Her wings are broken
O Lord, while precious children starve
The tools of war increase, Their bread is stolen

O Lord, dark powers are poised to flood
Our streets with hate and fear
We must awaken!
O Lord, let love reclaim the lives
That sin would sweep away
And let your kingdom come

Have mercy Lord, Forgive us Lord, Restore us Lord, Revive your church again

Let justice flow like rivers and righteousness like a never failing stream.

Life and Death Three Ways

Warning! Super long post!  The Squirrel is in a philosophical mood.

Brompton Cemetery, London (Picture by LGS)

Last weekend was Easter and thoughts of all Christians (including me) was focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.   However,  two other deaths occurred over that weekend that made me ponder the whole issue of life and death.  Or more specifically, how our view of life affects our view of death and vice versa.

First Way

At my church’s Good Friday service, one of the thoughts that we meditated on was the fact that Jesus told his disciples that when he went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, he would be arrested and he would be killed but in spite of that, he went anyway.  A death wish?   Christians sometimes say that Jesus was born to die.

All of us die, eventually.  If we are born then we will die.  But of Jesus it is believed that his whole life led to one purpose and that was to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind.  (of course, on Easter, we celebrate his rising from the dead, victorious over death itself).   But my point was that Jesus lived his life with the knowledge that his life’s ultimate purpose would be fulfilled by his death.

Please note that death was not something pleasant even for Jesus.  He knew his death was going to be terrible and costly  physically, mentally and spiritually; that is why he prayed  “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  That is why he wept for Lazarus, his friend who had died, even though he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead.  Death is not a good thing.

However, Jesus willingly laid down his life for others because he saw his life purpose fulfilled with his death.

That led me to my first thought:- that we could face death with with more peace if we believed that our lives had purpose and we have lived it to the full.

Second Way

Last Friday, I also learned about the death of one very sweet and very inspiring lady.  Her name was Sharon and she died of cancer.  The doctors had given her less than 6 months to live but she fought on for 21 months.  She had her chemotherapy and suffered through the hair loss and nausea.  She had periods when she was desperately ill and others where it seemed like she was almost untouched by the disease.  But through even the worse of it, she was always ready with a smile and encouragement for those around her.  In fact, her friends say that she smiled with her whole face.

And giving encouragement to others was just what she did.  During those 21 months, she took care of her family and friends, ministering to those who had come to minister to her and she used her energy to set up a Cancer support group for patients and care givers that has been a blessing to several hundred people already.

This was a very special woman and I must add that her compassion for cancer victims did not start only when she herself was stricken by the disease but some 30 years earlier, she had already started to do voluntarily work which included raising money for disabled and abandoned children, and providing support for cancer patients who had their life savings swindled by con men offering fake cures.  Her efforts made such an impression that she was given the keys to the city.  Amazing achievements, I am sure you would agree but I never heard about any of this from Sharon herself.  I only learned about it from the eulogies at her funeral – which only emphasizes just how rare a life Sharon lived.

She had fought the disease as much as she possibly could but she never stopped living life as she wanted to.  She spent her last days spending time with her loved ones (including a couple of holidays), going out to eat her favorite foods (even when she was not able to eat more than a spoonful) and most of all, still serving  and encouraging others.

But, as her life spark began to ebb for the final time, she was at peace.   Death did not scare her because she was confident  in her faith that God who had been with her though it all was ready to lead her to everlasting life after death.

This led me to my second reflection;  if we have hope beyond death, we are able to enjoy life to the full and still be able to let go when the time comes and not cling on to life in desperation and fear.

This is the antidote to the unhappy state that is referred to by  the poet, Dylan Thomas, when he wrote these poignant but sad lines about his dying father;

Do not go gentle into that good night,  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Third Way

The tragedy of the sinking of the Korean ferry is very much in the news; a tragedy made worse by the fact that so many of the victims were young students from a High School near Seoul.   At the moment of this posting, 104 have been confirmed dead and  198 are still missing.   This is so very sad.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of all who have perished.

However, it was the story about the school vice-principle that really touched me.  He was one of the 174 fortunate ones that were picked up and rescued from the sinking ferry.  He had been brought back on land.  He had been given a second chance at life.

He was found a couple of days later hanging from a tree.  Apparently, he had committed suicide.  He was given a second chance at life and he chose to end it.

Why did he do it?  I am sure he felt he had his reasons.  It  could have been from  a sense of responsibility as he had organised the school trip.  It could have been through a sense of fear of the anger of the bereaved parents; how could he face them?  It could have been through a sense of guilt; why did he survive when so many young people died?  I don’t know what was going through his mind that he thought he had to end his life..  It may seem that he had wasted his second chance but I don’t blame him or judge him.  I am just sorry that there was no one there for him at that moment when he needed help.

But as I thought about it, I came to my third reflection;  when we have no more hope in life, then death is welcomed.

Now most of us don’t think much about death and dying cause we are too busy with living and death seems distant.  But I think death sets the context and helps us understand life just as we cannot really understand and appreciate light if we have not experience darkness, sweetness if we haven’t experience sourness etc.

I know I have been incredibly reflective and sombre.  Thank you for sticking with me if you have made it this far down the post.  I guess what I have been trying to say is that we need to examine our understanding of the end of life so that we can live our lives wisely.  I always say that my one wish is to “die happy” cause that must mean that I look back at my life without regret and look forward with hope.

Tumultuous Times


jerusalem squirrelTumultuous times at the Passover Festival.

(a Special Report by LGS)

This year, the crowds coming to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival seemed to be even larger than before and they were charged with excitement. They had heard of the miracles and teachings of Jesus of Nazarene and some even claimed to have witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead; a man who had been dead for at least four days. Since it was known that the religious authorities wished him silenced, there was much anticipation and debate whether Jesus would come to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem.

Then, news raced through the crowds that Jesus had been spotted approaching the city, riding on a donkey. The people rushed out and lined the road into the waving palm branches and greeting him with shouts of ‘Hosanna! Hosanna!” The soldiers that had been sent by the religious leaders to arrest Jesus decided to withdraw because of the crowd.

For the next few days, Jesus went about in the city and even to the temple where he caused quite a commotion by chasing the money changers out and debating with the religious leaders; embarrassing them with his wisdom and accusing them of hypocrisy.

For the religious leaders, this was the last straw. On Thursday night, a raiding party sent by them arrested Jesus in a garden on the Mount of Olives. From there, things moved quickly. There was the very unusual (and some say illegal) meeting of the Sanhedrin Council in the middle of the night, which led to the decision to send Jesus to the Roman authorities for execution.

When interviewed, Pontius Pilate says that he is “innocent of this man’s blood”. He insists that he wanted to release Jesus because he found Jesus had done nothing wrong but that the Jewish leaders blocked his attempts to release Jesus.   To emphasis the point, the governor had made a show of washing his hands of the matter.

Subsequently, on Friday, Jesus was stripped, beaten, whipped and crucified. The crowds that had welcomed with such enthusiasm before now jeered and ridiculed him. Above his head,  a mocking sign said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’. In this way, the ‘King’ died in the most painful and humiliating way imaginable.

It must seem that with the death of Jesus that his followers would scatter in disarray.   Yet just three days later wild rumors were circulating that Jesus was alive and had been seen by hundreds.  His followers claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead!

Since then, some have referred to that particular Friday as Good Friday because Jesus had laid down his life to bring about the completion of God’s plan to save mankind from the consequences of man’s sinful nature and that he defeated death when he rose from the tomb three days later.   In doing so, he has given all mankind a hope for reconciliation with God and shows God’s love for us all.  And that is Good News!

This is LGS reporting from Jerusalem 2000 years ago. (bet you didn’t know that I was a time traveling squirrel).  Wishing all of you a blessed Good Friday and Easter.

NUKWIDLS 3 : Kenosis

What?!?! Is it already March 2014?  Stop the world!  I’m not yet done with 2013!

Here is my third and final installment post of the series entitled “NUKWIDLS” or “Now U Know What I Did Last Summer” (cause a fourth installment post so late into 2014 would be a tad too much).

In NUKWILDS 1, I shared with you that I have been helping out in a toddlers’ playgroup and acting as chief story-teller.  In NUKWIDLS 2, I boasted about surviving the experience of tramping up and down hills for the ‘fun’ of it.

The word for NUKWIDLS 3 is “Kenosis”.  I have been helping out at Kenosis.   “Kenosis” is derived from a Greek word that means “to be emptied”  and is used in reference to Jesus Christ setting aside His glory as God to take on the form of a human and the role of a servant (see Philippians 2: 3-7 below).

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing    by taking the very natureof a servant,    being made in human likeness.

(Philippians 2: 3-7 NIV)

The same passage urges us all to emulate the Lord Jesus and be a servant of others; always looking out for the interest of others.  This is the spirit of Kenosis.

And so after God had touched the lives of drug addicts Richard Lee, Bob Leong and Elvie Ho and freed them from their dependency on drugs, He also placed in their hearts the call to reach out to other drug addicts, street people and the marginalised.  Thus they came together and started Kenosis Home in 2001 which provides a faith based rehabilitation program for its residents.

The Kenosis ministry has been blessed by God and they expanded their activities to also providing training and jobs for those that have been successfully rehabilitated to help them return into society.    They now run 7 homes.

If you live in the Klang Valley area and in need of any of the services listed below, consider calling Kenosis Home.  You can get your needs met while helping some of the rehabilitated drug addicts find their feet again.


1.     Home or office moving
2.     Painting
3.     Renovation works/welding
4.     Lorry transport services
5.     Grass-cutting

Kenosis Home also reaches out to the street people and the needy through a number of feeding programs.  It is at one of these feeding sites in the Brickfields area of Kuala Lumpur that I have spent sometime helping out this last summer.

The food is prepared by the residents of one of the homes and together with other volunteers, our task is to help serve food and drinks to those who walk in off the street.

The feeding program which is held every Saturday typically serves about 120-140 people.  Those who come include drug addicts, the homeless, the blind and others in financial need.  I am particularly moved when I see desperate parents bringing their young children to the feeding; sometimes the child is clinging tightly to a dirty and bedraggled stuffed toy as if it is his/her most valuable possession.  All are welcome  to the table irrespective of race or religion.

Feeding the Physically, socially and Spiritually Hungry (photo from http://www.trinitypj.com/samaritan-ministries/)
Feeding the Physically, socially and Spiritually Hungry (photo from http://www.trinitypj.com/samaritan-ministries/)

Apart from the food, there is some singing led by volunteers and after the meal, a free clinic is made available for all those with medical needs.  However, more than a few wait at the clinic just to get a weekly dose of human contact and care.

The free clinic (photo from www.bangsargospelcentre.org)
The free clinic (photo from http://www.bangsargospelcentre.org)

Many of the volunteers have been faithfully coming every week for years to do this service, often forgoing public holidays, family gatherings and other personal agendas because they know how important the feeding is to those who come.

The experience has been a humbling one – a reminder of just how blessed I am with what I have and a realization that “there but the grace of God go I”.  Though I have just gotten started, I hope to follow the example of the veterans and keep faith with these people; following Jesus’ example of compassion and self emptying or Kenosis.  It’s a privilege to be able to do this service.

Peace Child


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman′u-el. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born!
to us a son is given!
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

Christmas is upon us again and it is a time to reflect on the miracle of the birth of Christ.  A miracle not just because it was a virgin birth but also because it speaks of God’s amazing love for fallen mankind.  It is a miracle that God’s Son came into our world to live amongst us and to ultimately lay down  his life for us.

But it does seem so unbelievable.  Why would God do such a thing?  It is not something that a self centered and selfish world can easily understand.

When I ponder about this, I am reminded of the true story of Don and Caroline Richardson.  They were missionaries who, in 1962, went to live amongst the cannibalistic head-hunting Sawi peoples in remote Irian Jaya, Indonesia.  They lived there learning the Sawi language and their customs, providing medical services and befriending them.  They desired to share about Jesus and the good news of God but found it difficult in a culture that elevates warfare and treachery.   For example, when they told the Sawi about Jesus being arrested and crucified after being betrayed by Judas, the Sawi clapped and cheered for Judas as he was seen to be cunning in his treachery.

How to make them understand why Jesus came and what he did?  God would show the Richardsons the way.

The Sawi had a way of making peace and that involved the warriors of the two warring tribes lining up facing  each other.  In the ceremony witnessed by the Richardsons, the chief of one tribe then took his first born infant son from the baby’s distraught  mother and walked down the line of his warriors.  The warriors placed their hands on the child as he passed by.

The chief then handed his son to the chief of the opposing tribe who takes the child down his line of warriors.  They to place their hands on the child in an act of affirmation and then the whole war party leaves with the child.

From that moment on, the child will live in the other tribes village and as long as he lives, there will be peace between the two villages.  If he is harmed, the person who harmed him would be killed.  It is the act of sacrifice by the first chief that secures the peace through his son, the Peace Child.

Don Richardon explains during an interview;

“When [my wife] Caroline and I lived among the Sawi and learned their language, we found that they honored treachery as a virtue. This came to light when I told them the story of Judas betraying Jesus to death after three years of friendship. They acclaimed Judas as the hero of the story. It seemed as if it would not be easy for such a people to understand God’s redemption in Jesus.

But lo and behold, their way of making peace required a father in one of two warring villages to make an incredible sacrifice. He had to be willing to give one of his own children as a peace child to his enemies.

Caroline and I saw this happen, and we saw the peace that resulted from a man’s wonderful sacrifice of his own son. That enabled me to proclaim Jesus as the greatest peace child given by the greatest father.”

So this Christmas, may we reflect on what it meant for God to send His son into the world and what it means to us all to receive the greatest Peace Child.

This world is so in need of peace.  Peace with God and peace between men.


God’s Acre in Chelsea

My parents were Roman Catholic.  I myself gave my life to the Lord Jesus at an evangelical rally by a Brethren Assembly Church in Malaysia.  I spent the first few years of my Christian walk learning about the bible from friends from the Assembly of God churches.  Later as I moved around while pursuing my studies, I have attended i an Anglican High Church, a couple of Brethren Gospel Halls, a Charismatic Anglican Church, a Pentacostal church, a couple of Baptist Churches, another Brethren Church, a Moravian Church and a couple of non-denominational churches.  I have always made the conscious decision to attend and support the local church irrespective of denomination as long as they hold to the common belief that Jesus is our Risen Lord and Savior.

I believe that no church is perfect this side of heaven but each has its strengths and qualities which all contribute to the glory of and the service for Christ.  In the end, all churches are under the headship of Christ.

I remember on one occasion, I was deeply troubled about something and I sought God’s guidance in prayer on what to do .  As I read the bible, God directed me to a particular bible story which gave me an answer to my question.  However, it was not an answer that I wanted to listen to and I refused to accept it.  That weekend I attended the Sunday service at a Baptist Church and the Pastor spoke from the same bible passage.  Again not willing to accept this as the answer and not willing to obey God, the next Sunday I refused to go back to that church and went instead to a Moravian Church.  Guess what?  The Moravian Minister preached from exactly the same bible story.  Still stubborn and trying to run from God’s message, the next Sunday I followed a friend to a Pentecostal Church.  Well, I checked and the sermon definitely was not on that same bible story.  A successful dodge?  Well, no!  After the sermon, the pastor gave a few prophesies and one of them was exactly the same message again.

What could I do?  I had prayed and God had answered.  Obeying Him on this matter was extremely painful for me at that time but looking back now with the passage of time, I can clearly see God had only good things in mind for me.  But my main point of this tale is that God worked through each of these different churches to speak to me.  Our God is the God over all denominations.

Have you heard of the Moravian Church?  I attended their Fetter Lane Moravian Church when I was staying in Chelsea, London.  It was a small church but the congregation was very warm.  I  got invited to many a Sunday tea at homes of church members.  I was impressed by their very simple but warm worship service and the very real love and strong fellowship.  The congregation was a mix of Black and White united in brotherhood and there was no racial tension at all.  The service was a bit traditional by today’s standards but in simplicity there is beauty and a focus on God’s presence.  It remains one of the churches that I am most fond of and which was a great blessing to me when I was there.  Below are some photos that I took of the church when I re-visited it a few years ago after an interval of 25 years.

Unassuming Entrance to Fetter Lane Moravian Church
Unassuming Entrance to Fetter Lane Moravian Church
The Small Worship Sanctuary
The Small Worship Sanctuary
The Simple, Humble Church Buildings
The Simple, Humble Church Buildings
Tombstones Remembering Prominent Historical Moravian Church Leaders and Missionaries
Tombstones Remembering Prominent Historical Moravian Church Leaders and Missionaries
God's Acre
God’s Acre

All Photos by LGS

Here are some interesting facts about the Moravian Church;

  • The Moravian Church came out of the Hussite Movement (from the reformist teachings of John Hus) and was established in what is now the Czech Republic sometime in mid-15th century.
  • It is possibly one of the earliest Protestant churches (ahead of Martin Luther by about 50 years)
  • It underwent a renewal in t1727
  • It then became the first Protestant Church to send missionaries around the world.
  • It was the first church that reached out and had a ministry to slaves ( specifically in the Caribbean).
  • It held strongly to the idea of a united church irrespective of traditions and denominations.
  • It’s  motto is: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love”
  • In putting this into practice, the church sent out teams to work with other churches to build up and to encourage.
  • It called its graveyards “God’s Acres” and these are characterized by simple and equal sized tombstones laid flat to the ground.  This was done to emphasised that all are equal and there is no distinction because of lineage, social status or wealth.
  • John Wesley was a disgraced Anglican minister when he attended a Moravian service and had a personal experience of God.  He then went on with zeal to preach the gospel which later led to the founding of the Methodist churches.
  • Today the church has some 850,000 members worldwide and is particularly strong in the Caribbean and in Tanzania.


The bible is so readily available in the English speaking world today that many take it for granted.   Yet the history of the translation of the bible into English is one scattered with stories of sacrifices and suffering, even unto death.  Similarly, many paid with their lives to ensure that the bible was translated into other languages too, so that others may read about the Good News of God in their native tongue.

In Southeast Asia, the Malay language is the lingua franca of about 215 million people.  In Malaysia, there is an estimated 2 million Christians of which for some 70 % Malay is their mother tongue and main language.  For them, having a Malay bible is a cherished blessing especially as they have faced difficulties previously from certain authorities who have tried to ban it, confiscate it, limit its distribution and even defaced it.  At the moment, the Malay language bible or the AlKitab has been allowed into the country but pending court cases means that the matter has not been settled permanently.

A week ago, I attended a function that celebrated 400 years of the Malay translation of the bible.  I had to admit that I was surprised to learn that the Malay language was the first non-European language into which the bible was translated.  A Dutch East India Company junior trader, Albert Cornelius Ruyl, translated the Gospel of Matthew into Malay in 1612 which was only one year later after the release of the King James’ Version.  His pioneering work would lead to the first complete Malay bible completed in 1733.

Albert Cornelius Ruyl had no formal training in linguistics but seemed to be extraordinarily gifted, allowing him to accomplish this feat.  He also pioneered the principle of “cultural substitution” in bible translation, something that would not receive widespread acceptance until it was promoted again almost 300 years later.  All previous translations, when faced with something that was not known to the new language, a word was adopted and adapted from the source language.  However, the new word would still be alien in meaning and did not promote understanding.

So Ruyl did some cultural substitution.  For example, there are no “fig trees” such as those found in the Middle East on the island of Sumatra.  Instead, Ruyl used “pisang” or banana tree as a cultural substitute.  Similarly, “wolves” was replaced with “tiger” and foxes with “mousedeer”.  Now a fox and a mousedeer are very different species; the former is a predetor while the latter is a prey species.  But just as we understand a fox to be cunning, in Malay folklore, it is the mousedeer that is cunning, often using its wits to escape the tiger and the crocodile.

Anyway, I am awestruck by seeing how God has led His word to be translated into the languages of the world (although there remains almost 200 languages that do not have the bible in their language), by the sacrifices made by many to carry out this work and how the work continues today even to some of the most remote tribes in the jungle as well as by how the Word of God is transforming many of these tribes.  There were many at the function that testify how knowledge of God’s word has set them free from fear and given them joy.

I am reminded to read my bible more faithfully and not take for granted my access to it.

Silly Rabbit, Easter is for…..

“Well, in just a few days time, it will be Easter. And really early, before the sun rises and all the good children are awake, the Easter Bunny will be hopping across lawns and gardens all over the world, hiding colorful eggs for all the good children to find”.

Say WHAT?!?!  Rabbits can’t even lay eggs – so just where is he getting them eggs and does he have elves like Santa does, to help paint all those eggs or is it outsourced to some sweat factory employing child labor?  Rabbits are also known to be health fanatics, eating only carrots and salad.  No way a rabbit would be promoting chocolate eggs.  So why is there a bunny/rabbit/hare intruding on Christianity’s most meaningful celebration?  It makes no sense at all.

Why is an overweight man in red the poster boy for Christmas and why is a egg-centric bunny the mascot for Easter?   Christmas remembers Jesus’ birth and Easter – his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. Why, then, is the world promoting these mythical characters instead of  showing reverence for the real and historical Jesus Christ for which these festivals are actually meant to remember?

It is most unacceptable.  The world talks about respecting each other including our different cultures and religions.  It would not think of doing this kind of thing with other religions, so why does the world think its okay to do it to Christians?  I mean, the Muslims would be offended if the media and businesses start promoting the “Camel of Eid-ul-Fitri” on their holy month.  No one would dream of using the “Holy Cow of Deepavali” to push sales to Hindus.  Even pacifist Buddhists may be riled up if some PR guy came up with something like the “Grand Pokemon of  Vesak Day”.  I do not mean any disrespect to any of those religions.  I am just trying to illustrate how silly it would be and possibly offensive.  No such festival creature exists for any of the world’s religious festivals (except maybe the Holiday Armadillo of Hannukah from a certain episode of “Friends”).  In the same way, I will thank you for leaving the Bunny out from Easter.

Sorry, there really is no "Holiday Armadillo of Hannukah".


The Easter weekend starts with Good Friday and ends with Easter Sunday and commemorates Jesus death on the cross on Friday and his resurrection from the dead on Sunday.  It is the most important event in the Christian faith.  The birth of Christ is not even discussed in two of the four Gospels but the events relating to his death and resurrection occupies 9 of 21 chapters in John’s Gospel.  Where Christmas was the start of Jesus’  work of redeeming mankind from the burden and penalty of their sin, Easter was the completion of that work.

John 3: 16-17:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ”


So silly rabbit, Easter is not for you but it is for mankind loss and weary, separated from God – now given new hope through the love of God and Jesus’ sacrifice in our stead.  Have a blessed Easter.

Church of the Good Shepherd

Now New Zealanders or Kiwis as they are affectionately known, are not generally an arrogant bunch.  Yet, they refer to  their homeland as  “God’s Own Country”.  What cheek!  What audacity!   It seems to implies that they share the same postal code with God while the rest of us non-Kiwis live in the slummier side of creation.

Now, of course, I believe that God is omnipresent which means that He is everywhere and He does not solely hold a New Zealand passport.  Indeed, the wonders of God’s creation can be seen in so many things and places all around the world.  Yet, one has to agree with the residents of Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” (yet another fancy name they have for their country), that they seem to have more than their fair share of natural beauty for such a small piece of real estate.

This being Easter week, the week in which Christians remember Jesus’ journey to the cross of Calvary, I thought about the worship of God and decided to pay a visit to “God’s Own Country” and specifically to the little Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo.

Now I have seen many impressive cathedrals with towering spires, massive domes and ornate carvings.  Some of them have been awe-inspiring but I have found others too over-the-top and gaudy.  And really, my favorite place to meditate and worship God is really on a mountain top; not surrounded by any man-made structure but amidst God’s wonderful creation.  Of course, out in the elements like that can be rather cold and wet at times!

So this is why the Church of the Good Shepherd is rather special to me.  Rather than some elaborate and ornate man-made altar, this simple chapel of stone just has windows which allows the beautiful mountains and the glistening Lake Tekapo to be the main feature of the altar.  I think it is stunning and a wonderful place for communing with God in prayer or in praise.

The Church of the Good Shepherd (Photo by LGS)
Lake Tekapo (Photo by LGS)
The Awesome Altar View at the Church of the Good Shepherd (Photo by LGS)

Invariably, Lake Tekapo and the small stone church is very much part of the tourist circuit these days but even so, there is still sufficient awe and tranquility to make a visit worthwhile.  Another interesting attraction is a bronze statue that rightfully honors the faithful service of the New Zealand Collie Sheepdog, without which, New Zealand would not have been able to become a nation with more sheep than people.  2009 figures indicate a human population of 4.2 million while there were actually 40 million sheep.

The New Zealand Collie Sheepdog is Honored in Bronze (Photo by LGS)
Sheep Not-so-much in a Rush Hour (Photo by LGS)


It’s Still Christmas

This is a post about Christmas.  Why am I posting about Christmas when it is already the 10th of January?  Well, if you look at my new year’s resolution for 2009 and 2010, it was to “stop procrastinating”.  Sadly, in 2011, I have failed again! 🙂

As regular viewers will have read, 2011 has kicked off at warp factor 5 and I am only now trying to reunite mind and body after the hyperspace jump.  There! I hope that pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo will somehow reverse the techionic field and presto………a Christmas post!

Normally, when I have let time slip by on a post idea, I usually let it go to sink into oblivion but this one’s special.  I did something I hadn’t done for a long time at Christmas.  I thought about someone other than myself.

I confess that for various reasons, I tend to like to spend Christmas alone; away from the noise and celebrations.  For years, I have turned down invitations to Christmas parties in favour of a quiet night at home.  In the same way, although going house to house caroling was something I enjoyed in my youth, I have not done so for years.  Good grief, even as I type this, I am beginning to believe that I was turning into a Grinch.

Well, not this year!  Oops, sorry. Last year!  I joined a group from church to visit a children’s shelter.  This 3 bedroom single storey link house houses 24 children from the ages of 6 months to 16 years old.  Most are not orphans but were either abandoned or abused.  Some were given up by their single mother parent because of poverty.

It was a fantastic experience.  We sang Christmas carols, had our young storyteller tell the Christmas story, gave out presents (practical ones like water tumblers or shoes) and finally had a festive meal together.  Everyone from church joined in the effort from the young kids, teenagers, working adults and seniors.

Even though we were there for only about 3 hours, some of us were able to relate with the shelter kids.  It was also good to see some of the young people who come from privileged backgrounds also being able to reach out to these children at their level as real friends.  Already some of them help out at this shelter from time to time.

You know, this was one of the best Christmases I have had in a very long time.  The reason is that I looked beyond myself and my normal self-indulgent reverie at this time of the year and reclaimed the joy of telling others and sharing with others, “Joy to the World”.  If you want a merry Christmas or indeed a wonderful life, don’t hang on to it but give of your life to others.  Sermon ends.


Carol Singing
Our Storyteller - Weaves His Magic
The Captivated Audience
Festive Feasting Together

All photos by LGS.  Please note that this is pre-new camera and were taken on handphone.  Hence the less than desirable quality of images.