26 March 2012

Consecration & Installation of Rt. Rev. Andrew Chan

This weekend was a bit of a break from Lent as we paused to celebrate the new ministry of former dean and now Bishop Andrew Chan.

Installed in 2005 as the Cathedral's first Asian Dean, his hard work over the last seven years has born much fruit. Always a friend to the Mission for Migrant Workers he served on our board of directors and supported our ministry. As Dean his duties included overseeing the general responsibilities and fellowship of St. John's Cathedral and her daughter churches as well as other organizations at St. John's (HIV Centre, Counseling Centre, Cathedral Bookstore, etc.).  His dedication to service and to the Gospel have been admirable and inspirational.

Waiting Bishops
Sunday afternoon he was consecrated at St. John's Cathedral, with Bishops and Archbishops from all over the world in attendance--including a Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox. Over 100 clergy also attended, along with government officials and members of St. John's. I was acolyte during the service, an honor that I did not initially realize. The consecration service was an incredible experience to be part of; it really brought home how big and inclusive the Body of Christ truly is. The Intercessions were done by various members of the different groups in St. John's, most notably a little Chinese girl (5 years old maybe?) reading prayers in English perfectly. Be still my heart! It was glorious.
Fr. Robert leads
RC Bishop and Orthodox Bishop

Last night he was Enthroned at All Saint's Cathedral in Mong Kok. This Cathedral is much smaller than St. John's, so overflow guests were seated in the school area to view the service on a screen. Since I arrived just before the service I had to wait for the procession to go in first before I was taken (along with a few others) to the school. I dutifully followed the service--mostly in Cantonese, but there was an English translation in the program--but when it came time for the homily I got up to see if I could find a copy of its translation. I had seen ushers handing them to the clergy as they waited so I inquired to see if there were any extras. There was a bit of lost-in-translation ("Yeng Mun-ah!" and me pointing to "homily" in the program) and then finally they said there might be some on the other side. One of the ushers ushed me over, and a lady gave me a copy of the sermon. They also tried to give me earphones for simultaneous translation of what was being said but I told them no need. I could follow along okay, I just really wanted a copy of the sermon because after listening to him preach at the Cathedral I knew it was probably going to be amazing. (it was!) Then, to my surprise, they told me to go up and sit in the choir loft. I tentatively tip-toed up the stairs and a kind lady gave me her seat right behind the blue-robed choir members.

In his new role as Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kowloon, Rt. Rev. Chan will tend a larger flock and take on a larger servant-leader role. In his sermon he spoke about servant leadership (a topic near-and-dear to my heart):

 "In order to provide leadership which can transform lives, we must be willing to prepare the girdle, towel, and wash basin. It has never been simple to prepare the tools of service, but this is a revolution of the heavenly kingdom, the aim of which is to establish heavenly values in the world."

"Leadership, when viewed from a spiritual perspective, means letting the old self die in the process by dismantling the ego, thereby creating the space for uploading the spiritual strength to serve others."

"Christians need to draw strength from God to lead and influence the world. Furthermore we should nurture virtues such as patience, kindness, humility, respect, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and trustworthiness. These qualities are not inherent at birth and are not merely feelings; they are life choices. The Christian service and leadership that Christians render to the world does not entirely depend on a level of ability; it begins with respect, the sense of responsibility and concern for others, but is built upon love, sacrifice, and self-giving, just as Jesus Christ has sacrificed his life to redeem his people."

The sermon was amazing, but what really grabbed my heart and squeezed was the singing and the prayers.

So, confession: I can't read Chinese.... luckily there was English in the program, so I just said the English parts. I tried to listen really hard to hear how they were saying "Lord hear our prayer" but there were so many people there and the lady next to me was wearing a face mask. But sitting there, speaking English in a crowd of Chinese, it just struck me how even though our words were different, they were the same. We all may be different on the outside--our looks, our lifestyle choices, our callings--but inside we are all one in Christ. "Though we are many, we are one Body, because we all share in one Bread." (we say this before communion.) Our words may sound different but their meanings were the same--prayers for Andrew, for the community, for the Church, for people who are in need. We praised God for all of our blessings and recited the Lord's Prayer. We sang hymns, "I Cannot Tell" and "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken".. the music was the same, the meaning of the words was the same, and it didn't matter if you sang in English or Cantonese. I wish I had a recording of it, it was so glorious, but it might be one of those "you kinda had to be there" things.

After the service there was a photo taking frenzy and I slipped out the door just in time to see Rev. Catherine heading for the exit. I caught up with her and she invited me to come out with her and Rev. Stephen and a few others.

Fr. Stephen, Fr. Des, Fr. Winston,
Rev. Catherine, Me, John Wood,
Fr. Robert. Fr. Will had already gone
We went to an Italian place in iSquare, near where I live, in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a good evening (I tried not to eat much but I am a sucker for pizza...) and I enjoyed the conversation with some of the clergy at St. John's and a visiting friend from Swanage. Father Will invited me back out to Stanley and when he mentioned they have a lack of servers I said I'd be happy to serve with him a few Sundays. I only have a few left here in HK but I so enjoyed Stanley (and Father Will!) that I don't mind the trek out there a few more times. (Not to mention the nearby beach...)

Coming Up in my life: Data Booklet is ALMOST finished, there will be a forum about it on Friday, Sunday is Palm Sunday and I am reading the opening prayers for the Filipino Passion play (in Tagalog! Will try to get a vid), Sunday is also the AIDS Festival put on by the St. John's HIV Centre, Monday I head to Cheung Chau for a few days, next Friday a friend from college who now lives in Taiwan will be in town for the weekend, next Sunday is Easter and the MFMW 31st Anniversary celebration. Phew!

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and I hope you have a blessed last-week-of-Lent as we inch forward into Holy Week.

Grace & Peace,

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