二○二○年三月二十一日/三月二十二日                                                                                    Click here for English version




北宣家今年查考的中央經卷是帖撒羅尼迦前後書,當我預備查經材料給所牧養的團契時,我的心靈也被帖撒羅尼迦的信徒所感動,他們當時正面對著來自猶太人的逼迫(參徒十七 1-9),但在大患難中,帖城的信徒仍能活出信、愛、望,因此保羅為他們感恩:「我們常常為你們眾人感謝神……在我們的父神面前,不住地記念你們信心的工作,愛心的勞苦和因盼望我們主耶穌基督而有的堅忍。」(帖前一 2-3,新譯本)我們面對去年的社會運動逆境和今年的新型肺炎疫情時,能否仍然對神持著信心,並努力關顧我們的鄰舍和弟兄姊妹?能否因著永恆的盼望,仍堅忍喜樂地生活呢?還是心中只有焦慮,以及對掌權者的怨懟、憤恨和苦毒?在疫情中,我看見有信徒不遺餘力地把口罩分給貧困和有需要的鄰舍,也看見教會同工們上下一心地全軍出動,一起包裝、分發口罩給主內肢體和街坊鄰里,心中不禁冒起了感恩之情。

至於禱告的操練,我們可以怎樣在疫境中更貼近主的心懷去祈禱呢?舊約的先知、君王和屬神子民的禱告,都給我們啟迪:他們在患難中常為主的名得榮耀而求主施行拯救,並在神面前認罪悔改。詩篇七十九 9:「拯救我們的神啊!求你因你名的榮耀幫助我們;為你名的緣故,搭救我們,赦免我們的罪。」這是謙卑認罪、以神為中心的禱告,而非單以自我為中心的祈求,深信神會喜悅和垂聽的。

所羅門王獻殿時曾如此禱告:「國中若是有饑荒、瘟疫……或是有仇敵圍困城鎮,或是有甚麼災禍,甚麼疾病,你的子民以色列,無論是個別或是全體……向著這殿張開雙手禱告或祈求,求你從天上你的居所垂聽和赦免他們」(代下六 28-30),示意以色列人在瘟疫或災禍之中,若能同心向著聖殿禱告,儘管未必每個以色列人都能親身去到聖殿禱告,但神都必垂聽的。面對今日的疫情,我們都未能返回教會參加祈禱會,但倘能有更多弟兄姊妹一起參與網上錄播的祈禱會,一起同心向神呼求,深信祂會施恩憐憫,叫疫症早日退去。


Pastor's Sharing
Thanksgiving and Prayer Year in the midst of Pandemic
Rev Sylvia Kwok

Looking at the couplet hanging in the worship hall of the Main Church which says, "Pray and give thanks, in faith we stand," I thought to myself: Ever since the start of 2020, Hong Kong and the rest of the world have been plagued with COVID-19. As such, how should brothers and sisters of the NPAC Family pray and give thanks?

The church has selected 1 & 2 Thessalonians for this year's Bible studies. When preparing Bible study material for my fellowship, I was immensely touched by the believers in Thessalonica. At that time, they were faced with persecution from the Jews (Acts 17:1-9). Despite the tribulation, the believers lived out faith, love and hope. That was why Paul gave thanks for them: "We always thank God for all of you…We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). In view of the adversity of last year's social movement and this year's pandemic, can we still cherish faith in God and strive to care for our neighbors and brothers and sisters? Can we persevere and live with joy because of our eternal hope? Or are we downcast, harboring only grievances, hatred and bitterness against those in authority? In the crisis, I saw believers tirelessly sharing face masks with the poor and needy. I also saw church coworkers united in an all-out effort to pack and distribute face masks to brothers and sisters and neighbors. My heart is full of thankfulness.

About our practice on prayer, how can we pray in ways that are close to the heart of God in the midst of the pandemic? The prayers of the Old Testament prophets, kings and the people of God enlighten us. In tribulation, for the glory of God's name, they often prayed for God's deliverance while confessing their sins and repenting. Psalm 79:9 says: "Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake." It is a God-centered prayer of humility and repentance rather than self-centered petition. I firmly believe this is the kind of prayer that will please God and which He will listen to.

When dedicating the temple, King Solomon prayed: "When famine or plague comes to the land…or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel – … spreading out their hands toward this temple – then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive…" (2 Chronicles 6:28-30). It means that in a plague or disaster, even though not all Israelites can go to the temple to pray, God will hear their prayer as long as they are united in praying toward the temple. In the thick of today's pandemic, we cannot pray in the church. But if more brothers and sisters can join the recorded prayer meetings online and in one voice call out to the Lord, I am sure He will give His grace and mercy and the pandemic will end soon.

In the Thanksgiving and Prayer Year amid the pandemic, our God of miracles has a lesson for us – one of an alternative kind of thankfulness and prayer!