|Preaching for God in Mutual Trust|
Mutual Trust: How Good and Pleasant It Is
As the speaker for the worship in the Annual Meeting of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong held on May 1, 2020, I shared a message about "trust" on this occasion. It was my earnest wish that Baptist churches would trust one another. Plus, as pastors leading our churches, we are obliged to build a common trust between us and among the sheep we shepherd. In that sermon, I also mentioned issues concerning power, servanthood and calling.
It has been over a decade since I assumed the presidency of the seminary. During this period, I have continuously been thankful for the presence of colleagues who trust one another; I trust them and they trust me. Recently, owing to the new coronavirus outbreak and prevention measures, a teacher living abroad could not come to teach the course of "Preaching" in our seminary. Under such circumstances, I had to assume the duty for him, inviting Rev. Brian Lam to co-teach the course with me. Upon the invitation, Rev. Lam agreed to help without a second thought, or any further discussion.
On the other hand, amidst this unexpected pandemic, everyone at the seminary has been busy with all sorts of tasks in their own unique positions, such as responding to the spiritual needs of churches during the pandemic and organizing a series of "Theology Salons."* Although Rev. Lam and I had no time to prepare early for the course lessons because both of us were already occupied with various matters, even very complicated issues were settled clearly in a straightforward way, without any lengthy or repetitive discussions, each time we discussed the arrangements. Here, I witnessed the synergy achieved through the mutual trust between us.
The teaching of the course was supposed to be shared by the two of us, each taking up half of the lessons. Firstly, I was to start teaching the theories of preaching while Rev. Lam was to supervise two preaching practicum sessions for each student. I did not expect Rev. Lam to be present during the lectures I was responsible for. To my surprise, ever since May 19, when the course commenced, he was present in every lesson! I guess he wanted to assist me from time to time during the lessons, probably because of his thoughtful understanding of my physical limitations. What was more, he had dialogues with me in the lessons creating "mini-Theology Salons" and enriching the learning atmosphere and enhancing the teaching and learning effectiveness. We achieved such wonderful dynamics on the basis of our mutual trust. Both of us enjoyed this trusting relationship.
During the classes, we learnt the claim of Scripture, as well as the function, focus, form and movement of sermons. Both the teachers and students completed the "Preaching" course in a delightful atmosphere.
Preaching about Our Trustworthy God
While humans can trust one another, God, whom we believe in, is the One who is even more worthy of our complete trust. Throughout our experiences, we feel deeply that God is really the One who deserves our trust. The seminary was reborn during a period of difficulties and sufferings and in the year 2009 which was an important milestone marking God's blessings and building us up, as well as guiding and leading us in numerous wondrous ways.
This time, had there not been the need for us to teach the "Preaching" course, I believe we would not have spent extra time giving deeper thought to the issue of preaching when both of us were so busy with our own ministries. Actually, in 2010-2011, I wrote a series of articles in our Newsletter about preaching (namely, "A Preaching Seminary, The Preaching Spirituality," "The Preaching of a Herald," "The Preacher as Pastor" and "Prophetic Preaching"). It was not until 2017-2019 when I, reminded by God, wrote again about the practice of preaching in our Newsletter (namely, "On 'Preaching' and 'Graduation Sermons,'" "Forging of Theologia: Proclamation" and "Marching Forward Again in the Direction of Preaching"). During the period, we kept reminding one another, students and teachers alike, at the seminary that preaching in the church is a very important ministry of pastors. In recent years, I have had two opportunities to work with Rev. Lam in teaching "Preaching" for the Master Programs. This time we were further reminded by God to seize the chance to share what we had learned with other pastors who had also taken up the ministry of preaching. So, as a natural outcome of the development, we planned to hold a Theology Salon on June 1, the theme of which was "Preaching in Hong Kong Today: Insights from Arnold Yeung and Thomas Long." Surprisingly, the event was so well-received that it was fully subscribed within two days of promotion. Hence, an additional salon on June 8 was held to meet the demand.
I believe all this happened under God's guidance. May we go deeper on the path of preaching. Thanks be to the Lord!
|* According to the Oxford Dictionary, "salon" is "[a] meeting of intellectuals or other eminent people at the invitation of a celebrity or socialite" (https://www.lexico.com/definition/salon).|