How can a church prevail for 138 years, through the horrors of world wars and empty pews of a pandemic, if not for God’s mercies and grace? That was the prayer led by Lay Leader Mr Aw Choon Hui as Wesleyans came together to celebrate our 138th church anniversary on 19 February 2023.
On this special day, the halls of Wesley Methodist Church were bustling with activity from as early as 8am on a cool Sunday morning, as worshippers prepared to celebrate and give thanks to God for His divine sustenance that has lasted for over a century. The day’s programme started with several stirring hymns (sung with gusto by the reliably excellent Wesley Combined Choir), an enjoyable performance from our young Sunbeams Children’s Choir and prayers led by Pastor-in-Charge, Rev Raymond Fong. Church staff were dedicated and long service awards were also given out to well-deserving full-time staff, with tenures ranging from five to 35 years.
TRAC President Rev Stanley Chua then took the pulpit, amidst loud cheers for a familiar face, to deliver his sermon for the day. Reading from the parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 16:1-13), Pastor Stanley debunked a common misconception that Jesus encourages us to be equally cunning in dealing with people. Instead, he emphasised that this is meant to be a parable of contrast. We should be wise and invest in what will be eternal rather than scheme for the temporal.
Investing in the eternal means investing in people instead of material things. We should use our worldly resources to bring others to Christ (Luke 16:9). While there is still time, we should also be wise and invest in our souls, not earthly possessions and security like what the shrewd—but ultimately unwise—manager in Jesus’ parable was attempting to do. No one knows when each of us will run out of time and be taken from this world, for it is said in Psalm 103:15-16 (NIV), “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more”.
To drive home the point, Pastor Stanley gave two contrasting stories. Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, something he initially envisioned for civilian commercial purposes. However, it was subsequently put to destructive uses by the military. Upon the death of his brother, several newspapers mistakenly published Alfred’s obituary instead, calling him the “merchant of death”. Appalled, Alfred was determined not to leave such a legacy and donated his wealth to establish the Nobel Prize. Until this day, these prizes are still being awarded to those who have contributed to the benefits of humanity, including the advancement of global peace.
The second story was that of Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish writer. Carlyle was known to be obsessed with his work. After marrying his secretary Jane, he continued to spend a lot of his time writing, neglecting his wife. After Jane’s sudden passing, Carlyle read her diary and regretted how little time he had spent with her when she was still alive. He became a broken man, but it was too late for him to make amends.
We can all reflect on the contrasting stories of Alfred Nobel and Thomas Carlyle. Most of us will not get a second chance like Nobel and, if we are not careful, may end up being too late and remorseful like Carlyle. Such is the fragility of life.
With this message in mind, the service came to an end. However, celebrations and thanksgiving continued as the Wesleyan community gathered at the courtyard for fellowship with each other. By His providence, we pray that Wesley Methodist Church will stand for many more decades to come, a shining light and a beacon to God for everyone.
Watch Sermon video, read Sermon notes and reflection questions here
View and download photos of 138th Church Anniversary here
Photos by CJ Goh and Matthias Ho.
Read also: Wesley Methodist Church is 138 this year!