Sunday, 7 September 2014

Living in the Present: Birthdays

Hello All,
When it comes to remembering birthdays, there are usually two extreme groups – those who have an excellent memory and those who don’t.
But nowadays, we are blessed with Facebook and Google calendar reminders to notify us promptly on our family and friends’ birthdays; that is if we even remember to key in the dates!
When was the last time you celebrated someone’s birthday? Are you looking forward to a special birthday?
What do those birthday celebrations mean to you?

Living in the Present: Birthdays
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (1st Mar 2014)
Based on Henri Nouwen's 'Here and Now: Living in the Spirit'
‘Isn’t he beautiful? He looks just like daddy’
Some said, ‘No, I think he looks more like his mummy’
While others said, ‘He resembles the both of them’
My nephew was a small bundle of precious gems

His birth brought much joy and cheer to our family
He’ll turn two this year in June; though he looks like three
He has learnt to clasp his little hands in prayer
And tell me which television show he prefers

Birthdays are to be regarded as important
They should be remembered with loved ones and presents
It’s a time to say to a person with gladness
‘Thank you for being born and being among us’

Birthdays represent the great opportunity
To be washed clean again each time we get dirty
To be forgiven when we, from God’s ways, depart
To repent as our lives are given a new start

Our great Saviour was born in a humble stable
He came to die on the cross so that we’re able
To receive God’s gracious forgiveness for our sins
So we can now rejoice in our new life in Him

Points for Reflection:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
(Philippians 1:3-5)
·         It is good to remember and appreciate each other, not only during birthdays, but every day in our prayers.
·         But celebrating birthdays is a good way to remind ourselves to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ, to show appreciation to them and just to show them that we care.
·         What do birthday celebrations mean to you? Have those celebrations just become a predictable and annual tradition to you? How could birthdays remind you to pray and care for your brothers and sisters in Christ? Who are the people you can regularly remember in your prayers?
·         Henri Nouwen once said that to him, it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a job promotion, an academic achievement or other successes. Because when we celebrate a birthday, we are not celebrating the great things that a person has done, but we are celebrating a person’s existence, that is, simply for who he is.
·         Similarly when we come to God, we should come to Him humbled, with empty hands; for we cannot earn his favour through our good works and labour. No, even before we were born, God had already set us apart as His beloved children and gave us life.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
(Ephesians 1:3-4)
·         It is through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we are able to come before God with a clear conscience, knowing that we can surrender the burden of our past sins to Him and find forgiveness each time we stumble in the present and future. Let us seek to do away with sinful habits, not with our strength alone but depending on God to help us live a life that is pleasing to Him. While we are sojourning on this earth, we will never be perfect but remember - we are God’s work-in-progress with opportunities to start over.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:1-2)