CFM Christmas Hi-Tea 25 Dec 2018 Hosted by CCM, OPENING SPEECH
by Bishop Dr Ong Hwai Teik, Acting President, Council of Churches Malaysia
- The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister & also Minister of Women, Family and Community Development - Dato’ Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Dr Wan Ismail
- YB Teresa Kok - Minister of Primary Industry
- YB Hannah Yeoh - Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development
- His Grace, Most Reverend Julian Leow Beng Kim - Chairman of CFM and the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur
- Reverend Dr. Eu Hong Seng - Vice-chairman of CFM and Chairman of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship.
- Right Reverend Aaron Yap Chuan Ching (Hon. Treasurer of CFM; Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia.
- Bishops, priests, pastors and church leaders, religious and community leaders, Ambassadors and High Commissioners; distinguished Guests, a very good afternoon and a warm welcome to everyone.
The Christian Community in our beloved nation expresses sincere thanks for the openness, support and goodwill of the many esteemed government , diplomatic, religious and community leaders in accepting our humble invitation to this annual CFM Christmas Day Hi -Tea Celebration.
Thank you for contributing to today’s gathering which is of special significance to us. Your presence enhances and emphasizes the preciousness of unity in diversity in Malaysia Baru. This celebration is joyously done in the richness of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious beloved nation.
As we celebrate this joyous perennial event filled with fresh joy, timeless truth, meaningful traditions and joyous festivity, I would like to share a brief but powerful story that echoes the true and deeper meaning of Christmas that is rooted in the heart of Almighty God, as revealed by the Holy Book of the Christians.
I do hope that it will demonstrate from another angle for us the real message that Christmas is not primarily about dizzying mega malls, decorations bordering on Disneyland fantasies, though these do conjure up and add to a certain atmosphere of festivity. BUT the essence of Christmas is about the Loving Sovereign God of Heaven and Earth bringing about new hope, new peace, new joy, new love and new truth.
It is said that at the Queen’s Palace in the Main Square of Amsterdam, there is captured in a sculpture which is a 15 feet art piece that tells the story of the ancient GREEK king Zaleucas. King Zeleucas was experiencing a menacing problem, not unlike the recurring snatch thefts and kleptocracy that we too experience in Malaysia, that is the prevalence of THIEVERY.
To overcome this problem in his kingdom, he increased the policing, offered rewards etc but to little effect.
Finally, in desperation, he issued a severe decree of deterrence that proclaimed that thieves who are caught and convicted will have their eyes gouged out!
Inevitably - before long, a thief was caught red-handed in the act of stealing, and this too in the palace grounds itself! The King was enraged and outraged - how dare anyone be so brazen as not only to break the law - but to do so, right in the king’s palace! He ordered the culprit to be brought forward - but his face turned ashen and pale upon sighting the thief - for standing before him was his very precious son - the Crown Prince!
HE was in a terrible dilemma! Everyone in the kingdom knew the king’s severe decree - what would the king do now? Would he keep his word and uphold the law and justice and blind his very own precious son, the Crown Prince? The distraught father then ordered his son to be cast into prison - while he agonisingly pondered over the painful situation; after a very difficult 3 days - he summoned his son back to the throne room. King Zeleucas then told his son that he loved him dearly, but that the king needed to uphold truth and justice, and had to discharge what was right and lawfully proclaimed.
"I have arrived at the following decision: the demands of the LAW will be satisfied. I shall put out one of your eyes - and I shall put out one of my own eyes as well!" - he declared the sentence solemnly.
The king showed that he was not only a just but also a deeply compassionate person who LOVED HIS SON DEEPLY SACRIFICIALLY and selflessly.
The true value and meaning of Christmas has been hidden and diluted, if not lost - in the prevalence of Christmas jingles and commercial symbols. But Christmas is about the ALMIGHT GOD of SELF-GIVING and SACRIFICIAL LOVE.
Christmas is about the GOD Who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who cares and looks after everyone in the world He created, even at great costs to Himself: this is succinctly summed up by 2 favourite verses of Christians as quoted from the Bible:
NRS John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The LOVE we receive from Almighty God is one that is merciful - not giving what is deserved to guilty sinners and fallen people that is, punishment. The Love of Almighty God is gracious - freely, willingly, sacrificially giving blessings of personal salvation, wholeness, peace and hope to the undeserving through Christ His Son.
The kingship of King Zeleucas reminds us to also pray for our Government, so that it is a just and benevolent GOVERNMENT that takes care of EVERYONE in Malaysia: a Government that is committed to an even playing field where all, big or small, many or few in number, male or female, rich or poor, young or old – will have a secure and equitable place under the Malaysian sun! That late great iconic, “stand out” selfless leader Nelson Mandela demonstrated to the world – the reality of such a commitment of leading. He led a 1994 elected post-apartheid S African Government that “justly takes care of everyone” in his nation; pursuing what it means to be fair, just, compassionate, humble, truthfully courageous and sacrificial in the interest of others. At least twice in public – he had declared that he was willing to die for the cause of seeing all men and women in his oppressed and persecuted land be treated as equals, not oppressed, bullied or forced to be inferior by a white supremacist government.
In this post-GE14 2018 Christmas, the key message for us Christians is that the Church in Malaysia must never forget her legacy - of being a non-discriminatory blessing to all as “salt and light” to our beloved country. Let us continue to pray for our nation and reach out to make a difference in Christ’s Name to our community through our social outreach programmes, for example, distribution of free food, medical clinics and hospitals, free legal aid, senior citizens homes, our cherished mission schools, drug rehabilitation and prison ministries and other good deeds. The “born again” in Christ must never stop putting in efforts to make for a re-set , a restart, reformed or “born again” great nation – being jointly responsible with all Malaysians for a great Malaysia Baru!
In this regard may I quote our beloved and esteemed first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra who wrote in a message written on 8 Oct 1963 for the Kuala Lumpur Methodist Afternoon School:
"What I would like to impress upon you as young Malaysians, and indeed on all citizens of Malaysia, is that this nation of ours is not the creation of one man alone but of the will and wish of all our people. Malaysia owes its existence to our mutual belief in our common destiny……..Each of us, young or old, has his or her part to play in making Malaysia a land of peace and happiness……. Malaysia is our nation, our people, our land to which we owe all the best we have to give in heart and mind and spirit, and if need be, even life itself."
MAY we all jointly, co-responsibly and passionately join our Loving, Merciful and Gracious Sovereign God of Heaven and Earth in bringing about new hope, new peace, new joy, new love and new truth to our new Malaysia and the world.
To this end our hopes and prayers rest confidently on the celebrated Christ-child Who is powerfully described by the prophet Isaiah - KJV Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
May a fresh outpouring of the peace, joy, love and hope of the Prince of Peace be ours this Christmas in this our beloved nation – Malaysia Baru; a very blessed and joyous Christmas and happy new Year to one and all.
Rev Dr Ong Hwai Teik
The Bishop of the Methodist Church un Malaysia
Acting President of the Council of Malaysia
Vice-President, The Christian Federation of Malaysia