February 25, 2015
Greetings Canaan English Ministry members and friends!
When was the last time you remembered a sermon? I confess that I can’t remember even the best sermons I’ve ever heard or preached. It may surprise you when I suggest that remembering the content of sermons isn’t really that important.
Why? Because when we emphasize the retention of content, we are tempted to believe that the sermon is what feeds us spiritually. Like Audrey, the gluttonous flesh-eating plant in the show The Little Shop of Horrors, we bellow out, “Feed me!” each Sunday only to return home dissatisfied. When we are too dependent on the sermon to feed us, we will not grow spiritually.
Some pastors (me included) are tempted to turn the sermon into a seminary or graduate school lecture. We want the sermon to be deep and substantive because we mistakenly believe that it is the main source of spiritual growth. But that is not what sermons are meant to be. The sermon, ultimately, is just spiritual milk. It is designed to provide just enough to get the listener started in faith.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with craving spiritual milk – or soy milk for those who are lactose intolerant (1 Peter 2:1). All infants need it and adults shouldn’t eliminate it from their diets. But the bible urges us to go beyond spiritual milk by eating “solid food” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Hebrews 5:11-6:3).
How can we go beyond spiritual milk then?
First, treat the sermon like a shepherd’s rod, not our sole source of spiritual nourishment. It is good to remember sermons, but not just for their content. The sermon is what a pastor uses to position, point, and prod us towards green pastures.
Second, “set aside” (e.g., make holy) ample time and energy to graze. Small groups, fellowships, service, mission, and especially the Sunday community hour (11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) are places where we can enjoy solid food. Attending workshops at the BASS convention next Friday and Saturday would be an excellent way to imbibe in and learn how to cook good solid food.
Finally, practice feeding on solid food, namely having:
1. a relationship with Jesus himself, the living Word (John 15:1-15),
2. consistent engagement with the bible, the written Word (John 5:39; 2 Tim 3:16), and
3. a high commitment to building up the church. preaching the gospel, and serving the world in Christ’s name (Eph 4:1-16).
For our English Ministry to reach the next level (2.0), let’s try to move out of the infant’s ward and into gourmet restaurants for solid spiritual food. I pray that our sermons and worship services have encouraged you to go beyond spiritual milk. So come and engage our Lenten sermons :-) The theme is “House Cleaning” – a reminder that we need to clean our spiritual homes in preparation for honored guests – especially Jesus!
NOTE: After this Sunday, our Children’s Ministry director, Nicole Lu and our Associate Pastor, Chris Liu, will be on m/paternity leave. Pray for them as they prepare for the arrival of their new babies!
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OTHER IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS
visit canaanem.org for more information
1. The weekly Canaan English Ministry Calendar has been updated. Go to canaanem.org/calendar/
2. The annual BASS Church Workers Convention (Mar 5-7) will be held at Redwood Chapel Community Church in Castro Valley. This is an event where people from churches across the Bay Area attend lectures and workshops about the various areas of church life – including church work and such areas as counseling and personal development. Canaan is registered as a church, so you do not need to pay a registration fee to attend – but you do need the church registration code. If you would like to attend, please see Torence Lu [email Torence], Nelson Lu [email Nelson], me [email me], or Pastor Chris [email Chris Liu] to obtain the code. Shirley will carpool to BASS Convention on Friday morning Mar 6 until 2 PM. Meet at her home [email Shirley]. For more information and to register individually (which is required), see bassconvention.org.
3. Our popular VBS summer camp will be held 7/28-8/1! Online registration is open for students (grade 5 and younger) and volunteers (grade 6 to adult) at VBS.ecanaan.org.
4. Come and invite friends to the VBS Preview Party next Sunday 3/8 in Fellowship Hall (12:30-1:30)! Everyone will be able to preview VBS music/shirts/materials, purchase music CDs, and pick up invitations for friends. Gifts will be given at the 3/8 VBS preview party to all who have completed their registration (VBS.ecanaan.org) and paid $45/student. The VBS nursery program is free (but only open to children its family members who registered as VBS staff). More info at vbs.ecanaan.org, or talk to Shirley Tai [email Shirley].
5. The next opportunity for baptism, confirmation, or to join Canaan as a member will be Easter Sunday, April 5. Applicants and inquirers should join Canaan Basics, which will be offered on March 8. Let me know if you are interested and would like an application for baptism and/or membership [email me].
6. Don’t forget! Daylight Savings Time begins March 8. Move your clocks ahead one hour, lose one hour of sleep. So go to bed earlier so that you won’t be late for 10 AM worship!
7. The next Testimony Sunday is March 15. The theme is “By Grace.” 3-4 persons are invited to share their testimonies based on this theme from the lectionary texts for that Sunday (Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21] Let me know if you are interested [email me].
8. Sunday Community Hour update (11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.):
– Everyone: New choir class starts on 3/8 in Worship Hall 1. Contact Wendy Huang [email Wendy] or Christina Chen [email Christina] for more info. Pianists are needed.
– Adults: “Money Management, the Bible, and You” class (tentative title) will be led by Roland Chow [email Roland] and Betty Tseng [email Betty] on March 15. Limited enrollment. Contact them for more information.
– Everglow Youth: Beginning April 17, we have two Sunday youth classes: Junior High and High School students. Contact Pastor Chris Liu for details [email Chris Liu]
– Young Adults: Chris Su [email Chris Su] and Ming Su [email Ming] are thinking of starting a “Young Adults connect” time during Community Hour. Contact them if you would like to help or participate!
9. Service Opportunity: City Team San Jose Kitchen support needed at 580 Charles St, San Jose 95113. Only a few slots are available for Saturdays 3/21 (9 am – noon). Contact William Effendy [email William].
– Duties: Help prepare and serve food to the homeless and program residents; clean up dining room and kitchen after meals; sort and shelve food.
– Qualifications: All volunteers must be over 14 years old. All female volunteers should dress modestly. We strongly urge that all females be accompanied by at least one adult male.
10. Summer Mission Opportunities update:
11. SAVE THESE DATES: August 7-9, 2015. All-church Retreat at U.C. Santa Cruz. We will have English Youth, English Adult, Children’s, Mandarin, and Taiwanese tracks. We’ll also be at Stevenson College where there are newly renovated housing accommodations. Volunteers are needed to help organize the retreat! Please let me know if you are interested in helping! [email me]
See you Sunday!
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨 :: PhD
Pastor of English Ministries