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The stained glass windows of CPC's auditorium.

Pastoral Letter 14th February 2021

牧聲 二零二一年二月十四日
14/2/2021
by
William Xu

First of all, I wish you all a happy Chinese New Year!

After the Gregorian New Year, I wonder if the arrival of the Lunar New Year Festival brings you more joy? In any case, due to the current situation of the pandemic, it is inevitable that people's joy will be affected. Although the world is constantly changing, many people have been encouraged by the changes to generate new ideas, in order to make them feel that today’s world is more attractive than in the past. However, with the replacement of the old with the new, we still hope to maintain our traditions. During the past Lunar New Years, we would have New Year's activities: family members gather together, share New Year's Eve dinners, and watch New Year's Eve programs together. But now with the pandemic we have to make appropriate compromises.

But on the other hand, the restrictions of the pandemic have also inspired us to find alternate ways, so as to make many things that we have never thought before to be possible. For example, our church's ministries now rely more on Internet technology services, so that church gatherings can continue virtually.

However, have we adapted to the new normal in the post-pandemic period? Do we enjoy online gatherings more? Or do we miss the face-to-face gatherings in the past? Whether it is the enjoyment of the present or the nostalgia for the past, we need to think about what it is that we really value. Is our focus on such externalities? Worship is indeed important, but the form of worship may be easily replaced or changed. We need to hold onto what it is that we truly value in order to avoid losing ourselves in the ever-changing environment.

As the apostle Paul advised, since we have "put off the old self, and to put on the new self", then do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Ephesians 4:21-24; Romans 12:2) God is the true driving force that maintains our lives and allows us to experience renewal. I hope that in the new year, the renewal and change we are pursuing will not merely focus on externalities, but will focus on attaining inner renewal in God. May God show us that his work of renewal in our life will not only endure, but also a precious inheritance that will last forever.

在此先恭祝大家農曆新年快樂!

繼陽曆新年之後,不知春節的到來,是否給你帶來了更多的喜慶?無論如何,因著現今疫情的狀況,人們喜慶的程度實在是難免會被影響。雖然世界一直都在更新變化著,很多人也被驅使著去絞盡腦汁地創造新意,好讓人覺得現今的世界比過去更加具有吸引力。然而在新舊更替之間,我們還是希望持守某些過去的傳統。過去的農曆新年期間,我們會有很多豐富、充滿年味的活動:家人歡聚一堂,共用年夜飯、一起觀賞跨年節目。但是如今我們卻不得不作出適當的妥協。

但另一方面,疫情的限制也激發著我們想方設法去另闢蹊徑,以致於讓許多過去未曾想到的事情成為可能。例如,我們現在教會的事工中比以往任何一個事情都更加依賴網路科技服務,使得我們的聚會可以繼續進行著。

但我會問:你是否已經適應後疫情時期的新常態?你更享受線上聚會,還是懷念以往面對面的聚集?無論是對現今的享受,或是對過去的懷念,我們都需要思想一件事,就是我們真正所看重的究竟是什麼呢?是這些外在的形式嗎?外在的方式固然重要,但也可能最容易被替代或更改。只有抓住我們最看重的價值,我們才能越能夠避免在千變萬化中迷失了自己。

正如使徒保羅所勸勉的,我們既然已經「脫去了舊人,穿上了新人」,就不要效法這個世界,而是心意更新而變化,時常察驗神的心意。(弗4:21-24;羅12:2)因為唯有神是使我們的生命能夠得以保持並且經歷更新的動力。盼望在新的一年,我們所追求的更新變化不只是關注外面,而是首先回到神裡面的內在更新。求神給我們這樣的看見:祂在我們裏面的更新翻轉的工作,不但曆久彌新,更是會存到永遠的寶貴產業。

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