Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thanksgiving Chapel - Lessons to Learn

Today marks our annual Thanksgiving Chapel. Bishop Julius Paul of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia was our guest speaker. Being one of the pioneers who is instrumental in securing the land on which the seminary presently stands, Bishop Julius has much to say to remind us of the history of the seminary and how we ought to be thankful for what we have today.

The land on which the seminary presently stands originally belonged to the Society of Infant Jesus of the Catholic Church. Being deeply aware of the great need of STM in securing a permanent place for it campus back in the 1990s, and being thoroughly committed to theological education, the Catholic church decided to offer the land to STM to build its permanent campus, although the Jesuits were also eyeing the property at the same time.

This is where we have much to learn from the Catholic church. The church could have been inward looking by offering the land to their own community, the Jesuits. But instead, the church recognised the importance of theological education and the role STM would play in equipping God's people for ministry not only in Malaysia but beyond. As a result of this commitment of the Catholic Church, STM becomes the pround owner of a plot of land measuring more than 5 acres located on high grounds in the suburbs of the city of Seremban.

The Catholic church is to be applauded for being so selfless and having such a kingdomic perspective. Her generosity in going beyond the denomination boundaries and theological differences is not only one that is to be modelled but also one that makes the protestant church blushed.

The protestant church has much to learn from the Catholic church - we are good in paying lips service to the unity of the body of Christ and yet we are the very ones causing divisions - just see how many churches have split over the years resulting in the mushrooming of independent churches in Malaysia; we are good in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet we often fail to live out the values of the very gospel we are preaching - that makes us to be a mockery of ourselves in the eyes of the unbelieving world; we are good in promoting kingdom values but yet we are inward looking and have often failed to extend our generosity to others in the body of Christ, particularly in the sharing and giving of our resources.

Today's Thanksgiving Chapel reminds us of how much we could learn from the Catholic Church and her deep commitment to theological education.

Lord, have mercy on us.


anthony said...

just to fill in some gaps (and correct some errors). the founding fathers of stm were the late bishop john savarimuthu, the late bishop c.n. fang, the late bishop muthusami and the then dr denis dutton (later bishop). stm came into being on epiphany day january 6th 1979. it was always on rented premises in the wilderness years in kl/pj. firstly, it squatted on the elcms compound (later taken over by Malaysian CARE for some time), then moved to the former methodist high school in sentul in 1983 (taken back by the methodist church to build the methodist college) and then to st xavier's hall in p.j in 1988.

the land that was offered to stm totalled 4.7 acres (to be exact). it was a former convent school (many seremban ex-convent students still fondly remember the place). the land was owned by the infant jesus sisters. the initial plan was to sell 2/3 of the land to stm and they retain 1/3 of the land for a retreat centre. eventually, the retreat centre was shelved or given up and stm was able to purchase the whole piece. total cost of the land and building and fittings came to rm 11 million.

pearlie said...

Ah STM, one of my favourite places, because of its natural surroundings.

I know what you mean: I am currently seeing the opposite happening right before my eyes. A year ago, I was all frustrated over it but recently, I began to feel sad and thought to myself, "to what end". But whatever, the fight will continue.

What do you think - any difference between "giving" and "giving in"? Not in the context of "giving in to sin" but in the context of letting go and stop the fighting, but lose a lot as a result. Sounds like "giving up?"

Kar Yong said...

Thanks, Rabbi

Kar Yong said...

Hi Pearlie,

Can understand how you feel - I also have been thinking of "giving up" fighting in some quarters - many times I feel like "walking out" already. Don't know for how long more.... :-(

I think I will still fight as long as there is still a glimmer of hope - but when my presence is no longer welcome, I think I will take the exit....

Alex Tang said...

huh? pearlie and kar yong,
am I missing something here?

pearlie said...

Haha ... I had to laugh ... truth be told, I do not know his event nor does he knows mine - but we are talking about the same thing, make sense? haha

pearlie said...

Kar Yong,
Don't which is better, being in it and able to walk out OR being out of it and can't do anything. I am just watching from the outside and wish both parties would recognised that we are after all in ONE body, the body of Christ, crucified, buried and raised. So in a sense, there is no losing. Just like the Catholic Church or the Jesuits, they did not lose at all but gained in the body of Christ. Like you said, when will we learn? Because there is no love, the fighting will still go on.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Alex,

Hmm...looks like you have to apply your hermeneutical skills in interpreting Paul's letters in interpreting what both Pearlie and I are talking about...haha

Kar Yong said...

Hi Pearlie,

I have been thinking about this for a long time....when will the fighting end?

Desmond said...

anyway, let us give thanks to God for His protection over STM....