June 17, 2010
Dear Canaan English ministry brothers and sisters,
Have you ever had one of your colleagues and close friends become your supervisor? If not, imagine what that would be like. Imagine if that person also goes to your church? How would your relationship with this person be affected?
Relationships change. This is an inescapable fact of life. Betty and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this August, but when we look back, we are amazed at how much our relationship has changed since we were lovestruck college students. We were much more high-strung in our twenties and thirties. There was everything to worry about back then: would we advance in our careers? would we raise our boys right? how well were we doing compared with our siblings and peers? can we find a church filled with good networking opportunities? All these concerns placed great stress on our relationship and led to more arguments than we would want to admit. We never openly admitted that our relationship was being impacted by these concerns. After all, we believed that we had surrendered our lives to God’s will at all times. But the truth is that differing circumstances, life-stage transitions, and changing interests affected our relationship deeply. After all, we are still human!
When friendships sour, when people drift apart, and when conflicts surface, it is impossible to retrieve these changed relationships. The past can never be recaptured. While I think it is good to reflect on the past (hey, I’m a church historian!), it is even more exciting to build a new future. The future is an adventure that can create new relationships and renewed friendships.
So whether or not you are actively involved with Canaan today, it is my prayer and hope that you are creating new relationships. In these new relationships, God can do a tremendous amount of good through you.
It is also my prayer that you learn how to adjust to relationship changes. That member of your community group may now be your boss, but you can still love her as your sister-in-Christ. The person sitting in front of you during worship service may be your ex-boyfriend, but you can still serve the Lord together in the same church.
How? By understanding that our primary purpose in life is to cultivate God’s transforming grace in the world. Any experience of intimacy or community we receive are God’s gifts – not something we are entitled to. As cultivators of God’s grace, our families, our church, and our communities become the relational soil that we are called to carefully till and nurture. The bible is full of suggestions about how to cultivate God’s grace in our relationships.
For example Paul says in Ephesians 4:29,31-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Here, Paul outlines some simple ways to overcome bitterness and disappointment in our relationships: use words that build others up. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. When we actively and intentionally practice these acts of grace, we can navigate relationship changes while nurturing renewed bonds of friendship.
Armed with a cultivator’s attitude, we can enter each new life stage eager to be surprised at how God will renew and transform our relationships. Returning college students will seek to create or renew relationships rather than expecting Canaan (or any church) to give them same mind-blowing college ministry experiences (I assure you that it’ll be mind-blowing at Canaan, but just different). Single folks will be welcomed and loved even though they are surrounded by all these tired looking family-oriented people. Newlyweds will find creative ways to sustain relationships with friends who are single (paintball always does the trick!). A young couple with a new-born will, instead of languishing over their loss of freedom to chill with their friends into the wee hours of the night, seek the thrill of becoming friends with other parents. And young middle-aged guys like me will figure out how to keep up with the young guns.
Our church community can become a garden of grace where we all thrive amidst relational changes. As Jesus said in Luke 10:2, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” I invite you to be worker – rather, a cultivator – of God’s grace at Canaan and beyond!
See you Sunday!
Tim Tseng 曾 祥 雨
Interim English Pastor
Office: 408-942-2822 x113
Check out the English Ministry website: https://canaanpromise.wordpress.com/
President & Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity
P.S. If you’re like me, you’re probably very concerned about the Gulf Oil spill. Here is a link to some resources from Sojourners Magazine that addresses Christian approaches to environmental issues:
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English Ministry Retreat (Sept. 10-12, 2010)
The Retreat Planning Team (William Effendy, Paul and Betty Hsu) have identified Sept. 10-12 and Redwood Glen [http://www.redwoodglen.com/] as the best time and location for our English Ministry retreat this Fall. Redwood Glen is located in Loma Mar, about 10 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean Coast, roughly half way between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.
The facility that we would use at Redwood Glen is called the Siden Conference Center. Siden is an intimate new building with 22 hotel-style rooms. It can accommodate 44 people double-occupancy and up to 64 people with roll-away beds. Each room has “a private balcony or patio, separate sink, shower, and toilet area, reading chairs, a table, night stand, electric radio alarm clock, wall-mounted reading lights, and two comfortable queen-size beds. Linen and towels are provided. One handicapped room is available. An elevator is available to provide access to our second floor meeting room or our first floor dining room.” The second floor meeting room provides plenty of space for 40-60 adults and the first floor dining hall can be used as a children’s play area.
The outdoor recreational facilities are quite nice. There is a playing field for softball or football, an outdoor swimming pool, basketball, tetherball, and volleyball courts, an outdoor campfire circle, a playground for children, etc.
The retreat will be targeted to families, college students and young adults. We will invite some older youth to help us with child care. We have not yet determined a theme or speaker. We believe strongly that spending some quality time together will help us grow closer to Christ and one another. But since there are only 22 rooms, we may not be able to accommodate more than fifty people.
Here is the pricing breakdown for two nights (add $54 for 5 meals). Canaan is not subsidizing our retreat costs this year, so we will have to cover the entire cost of the retreat ourselves:
– Single occupancy: $180+$54 (meals) = $234
– Double occupancy (per person): $120+$54 (meals) = $174
– Triple occupancy, with rollaway bed (per person): $110+$54 (meals) = $164
– Children 0-3 years old: Free
– Children 4-12 year olds will receive a 30% discount on the food services. So, their rate would be $157.80.
– Nuclear family rate: $351.60 for the family of four with 2 children from ages 4-12 years old (include lodging and meals). The family of 4 with a child under 3 years old would only be $325.80 for the whole family.”When the nuclear family’s lodging costs are at or more than $168 per person, we do not charge over $168 for the family for lodging. Of course, meals are added to the $168 hence $351.60 for your family of four.”
Redwood Glen would like us to give them a deposit by this Friday, so please let me know if you plan to join us as soon as possible! If your nuclear family is coming, let me know how many.