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Pastoral Letter 24th January 2021

牧聲 二零二一年一月二十四日
24/1/2021
by
Rev. Andrew Choy

The vine imagery in John 15:1-8 corrects a common misconception about spiritual life. Many believed that more church involvement would result in greater spiritual vitality. In fact, it is not what we do that gives us life. In contrast, Jesus is the “true” vine which nourishes and gives life to all its branches. The branches, in response, need to remain in the vine in order to live and bear fruits.  

The original word translated as “remain in / abide in” means to stay, dwell, or be present in a given place or relation. That word appears twice as often in John’s writings as in all other New Testament books combined. Apparently, the apostle John stresses it is the incarnational Christ who dwells among his people that gives life (John 1:12-14; 14:20; 1 John 4:15; 5:11-12). Without abiding in Christ, there is no vitality and indeed no transformation of life at all (John 15:5-6). So how do we cultivate that constant abiding in Christ?  

For many people, 2020 was perhaps the most difficult year. To me, it was very challenging too. At one time for a few consecutive days, my blood pressure spiraled out of control perhaps due to stress. That was when I visited my GP and started to take hypertension medication.  

Thankfully, it was also a time when I was prompted to look into improving my health. Since then, almost every day I would go out to a place (pictured above) and take a 30 to 40-minute walk while listening to and meditating on God’s word, praying, or simply keeping silent before God. That has become my “new normal” to start the day to sensitize myself to Christ’s abiding in me throughout the day.

What will be your way of remaining in Christ in 2021?

約翰福音15:1-8的葡萄樹意象,糾正了關於屬靈生命的常見誤解。許多人相信,有更多的教會參與就能帶來更大的屬靈活力。實際上,我們所作的並不能賦予我們生命的力量。相比之下,耶穌是「真正的」葡萄樹,祂滋養並賦予所有樹枝生命,而樹枝則需要時常結連於葡萄樹,才能存活並結出果實。

翻譯為「常在」的原文,所指的是在固定的地方或關係中停留、居住或存在。在約翰的書信中,這個詞出現的頻率是所有其他新約書卷總和的兩倍。明顯地,使徒約翰要強調的,是道成肉身的基督的內住賦予人生命 (約翰福音1:12-14; 14:20; 約翰壹書4:15; 5:11-12)。不常在基督裡,便沒有生命力,也甚至沒有生命的轉化了 (約翰福音15:5-6)。我們如何持守自己在基督裡的常在呢?2020年對很多人來說,也許是最困難的一年;對我而言,這也非常具有挑戰性。可能因爲是壓力所致,我的血壓曾連續幾天像失了控一樣。在諮詢過家庭醫生後,我要開始服用抗高血壓藥物。

值得感恩的是,這也是促使我要改善健康狀況的時候。從那時起,幾乎每天我都會去一個地方 (上圖),步行約30-40分鐘,同時聆聽及默想神的說話,祈禱或只是在神面前安靜。這成為我開始每一天的「新常態」,以確保我整天都意識到基督活在我裡面。你在2021年常在基督裡面的方式又會是甚麼呢?

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