Thanksgiving this Easter
Dear BPCWA worshipper, Celebrating Easter was something that we always took for granted, until the COVID-19 lockdown last year when all our services were conducted online and the church was empty on Easter Sunday. Even our traditional Anniversary dinner had to be cancelled and we held a thanksgiving Anniversary service that night in lieu. God works all things for good in His Sovereign plan, and I hope that the pastoral today will help us to be more thankful that things are different this year.
Thankful for regathering. In a situation that we would never have imagined before, last Easter was spent either alone or with our families at home. One thing that we missed very much, though we could livestream our Good Friday service, was our usual Lord’s Supper. Our Easter Sunrise service also had to be cancelled. We had Easter Worship Service and gave thanks to God for our 34th church anniversary through livestreaming instead. Do you remember your emotions in those days when we could not gather as a covenantal family to worship, partake of the Holy Communion, and celebrate our church anniversary together in person? Unless our hearts are hardened, recalling those days must overwhelm us with joy and thankfulness that we can meet together in person this year! As God allows all these, we must at least notice and learn to treasure the freedom that we now enjoy in Perth which allows us to gather. Furthermore, the fact that we are not just merely meeting in rostered small groups, but can come together every week, worshipping on the same floor instead of having to sit upstairs, must fill our hearts with overflowing gratefulness to God for His mercies upon us. Our experience last year should teach us practically what it is like for some who, due to persecution or with the lack of a sound church where they are, could not gather together for worship. It must make us thankful (and certainly a lot more prayerful) for the freedom that we have to worship God here in Perth. It must make us thankful that we have like-minded believers that we can join hearts and voices together with in the worship of our God.
Thankful for another milestone as we celebrate our church anniversary. As has been our practice, we celebrate our church anniversary today. This year marks the 35th Anniversary of our church, which was first started with humble beginnings on 9th February 1986. The church has been through much, as we have studied in our recent Church Study Series on our church’s history. The fact that we are not only still existing, but that we also continue to teach the truth, standing “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:2,9; 6:9), can only be attributed to God’s special care, mercy, and protection. For the large majority of us, Perth is where we call our home at least for now. The fact that we have a sound church that we, as individuals and families, can continue to attend for ourselves must be something that we are grateful and thankful to God for. God granting us a sound church where we can worship, learn, and serve in cannot be taken for granted especially in these end times. Those who are truly God’s sheep would seek to be fed with His truth. Even park rangers know that wildlife scavenging in the rubbish dumps and start eating the trash left behind by humans will cause them harm and eventual death. This is sadly the eventual case when they do not feed on the food they are supposed to eat. We see this physically and understand the harm that it causes the animals. A soul that has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and having a sound church to graze and grow in is God’s blessing. The new creature needs to be nourished, sanctified, and built up so that it can be used by Him. And God’s church is His means to provide for that. We must always long for such a sound church and pray for it constantly. And we must desire for it to remain faithful to our Lord, doing only what is right and pleasing in His sight, and following His leading, even if it means at times conflicting with our personal preferences and friendships.
Thankful for our Saviour’s work on our behalf. In view of God’s unusual goodness towards BPCWA, we must worship with grateful praise and thankful hearts. Moreover, as we commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus, we must remember that He gave Himself for His Church, which He purchased with His own Blood! And while we also commemorate His resurrection, we must be deeply grateful that through Christ, we are “blessed . . . with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3), especially the blessing of fulness of life in Christ, of eternal life so rich and free, and the glorious bodily resurrection that we, as God’s children, will experience one day. Oh, what a blessed thought beyond words, especially after having just witnessed the recent homegoing of one of our brethren. How can we face death if we didn’t have the assured knowledge of Christ’s resurrection? What meaning does life have on earth without Christ as our Lord? How all these must surely stir endless praise in our hearts – that the infinite God, our Creator, should humble Himself to save the creature.
Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for today and to adore our God and Saviour for. What is the state of our hearts? I hope that as we gather together today – some of us for 3 occasions at Sunrise, Worship and the Anniversary dinner – we will raise our voices and sing His praises out loud for all the goodness that He has shown to us. Let us worship Him from our hearts, for He deserves all our worship. For if we “should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Lu 19:40).
Yours in our Lord’s service,