BLC-Rumah Hope: Christmas In The Park (2005)

We’re continuing our stroll down memory lane on our 13th anniversary. This video came by way of David Berry (who’s family blessed the church with the boat candleholder we posted about here)

BLC has a great relationship with the Rumah Hope kids. One Christmas, we decided to celebrate the season together with a big outing to the Bukit Kiara park in TTDI.

It was a fun day for all of us!

“We Are The Church” – BLC 13th Anniversary Video

As part of our 13th Anniversary celebrations, Pastor Emily made a video celebrating the fact that Bangsar Lutheran Church is ultimately made up of the people we call our church family!

Enjoy!

 

We’re All In The Same Boat – David, Sigrun, Kirsten & Declan Berry

Today marks the 13th anniversary of BLC’s founding – we’ve come a long way since our founding on April Fools’ Day, 1 April, 2000. To mark this day, we wanted to share a story about one of the more common – yet possibly easily overlooked – sights in our church.

BLCBoat

You might have seen this wonderful “Boat” candle stand in The Father’s House – but not many of you may have known the story behind the it. It was actually a gift from the Berry family, who have since moved back home to Australia.

We asked David and Sigrun to share a little bit about the story behind the boat and here’s what they said:

The ship is an ancient Christian symbol. It is the Church tossed on the sea of disbelief, worldliness, and persecution but finally reaching safe harbor with its cargo of human souls. Part of the imagery comes from the ark saving Noah’s family during the Flood (1 Peter 3:20-21). Jesus protecting the Peter’s boat and the apostles on the stormy Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41).

It was also a great symbol during times when Christians needed to disguise the cross, since the ship’s mast forms a cross in many of its depictions. In an illustration for Psalm 69 from the Belleville Breviary, chosen to accompany the sacrament of Confirmation, St. Peter lies in a boat on a storm-tossed sea while God blesses him from the heavens, symbolizing the soul’s refuge in time of trial in the ship of the Church which is blessed by God.

The final traditional symbolic meaning of the ship is a means of conveyance between this world and the next. In Christian tradition, in which earthly life was seen as a pilgrimage, the ship of the church transports the faithful through the seas of the world to the heavenly home. (Source: http://www.jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols/ship.htm)

I appreciated the recent blogpost by Rama Ramanathan. Rama said BLC reminded him of Adullam’s cave.

Before David became King, he was hounded by King Saul. One of David’s hiding places was called the Cave of Adullam. Those who were loyal to David, those who recognized him as a righteous man, and a man chosen by God, stayed with him. They swam against the tide: they were amongst the few who wouldn’t betray David, not even to their lawful King, Saul.

Rama writes that we know what a church is: it’s not church members who decide who should become church members. It’s God who decides.

Food for thought, thought I.

For us, BLC certainly was a sanctuary. We felt like disciples in that boat, part of the team of fellow believers, having a common goal. The single most common descriptor for me would be that BLC is non-judgmental.

I still remember the very first day we arrived at Bangsar Lutheran Church, on the day of Chinese New Year 2003. A car arrived about the same time as us and we were reassured and welcomed to the church… in that car was the Tew family (Ed Tew Wai Kin later becoming our care group leader). After church we were invited to Uncle and Aunty Long’s for fellowship – do I remember correctly that this was our first yee sang? The Longs made me appreciate how important it is to have all age groups represented in a community. Having them by our side just made us feel good.

Having to leave BLC just before Christmas 2006, was having to leave family. We yearn for heaven to play some more! 

We bought the boat in Singapore. It seemed to say so much of what we felt in BLC.

I wrote this after we left:

To BLC,

Consider what you have. Be thankful for it. Know that the growing families are the true blessing. Do not yearn for what you do not have. Do not live for the day in the land of tomorrow- your happiness is in the everyday. If your focus is on Jesus, God will surpass your widest imagination. We are learning this. Place your true confidence in the Lord. His equations continue to amaze me. His ways are great indeed.

We need to be persistent and faithful in our walk. When things just seem shitty in our community, we are called to re-evaluate who we are ourselves. Much learning comes from facing us and ourselves. We carry much pain which requires healing, so don’t stop looking into that mirror of yours!

Support your leaders. They cannot do their jobs without your guidance, support and encouragement. Find solutions. Embrace opportunities. Be reformers for change. Dare to consider being leaders yourselves.

Your hearts are so warm! Your smiles are so bright! Your hugs are so loving! Thank you for being such an accepting community. Continue to value people as they are. Do not judge one another. Support each other through the seasons of your life. Love the children, but dare to discipline them too. Continue to live with great passion.

You are a blessed people.
Shalom!

The Berry Family - Circa 2011The Berry’s at Kirsten’s confirmation, circa 2011. L-R: Sigrun, their current pastor, Kirsten, David and Declan

No pastoral interns were harmed in the making of this photo

Pastor Emily dropped by the Giving Tree LiFE Group the other day and found something to keep herself entertained with. 🙂EmilySwinging

I Began Attending BLC the Day After 08 March 2008 – Rama

RamaJoyce

Thank you, Rama for sharing this story from your blog, Rest Stop Thoughts:

On 08 March 2008, I frantically called my wife from Shanghai: “I’ll call you as soon as I get on the train from KLIA to Sentral this afternoon.  Meet me at Sentral.  Bring my identity card.  Then drive me to the voting centre so I can cast my vote against Barisan Nasional.”

The flight was delayed, but I made it.  I was the last to enter the polling centre before it closed for the day.  That night the vote tally was announced.  The incumbent BN candidate lost to his DAP challenger.  And BN, despites much thievery and thuggery, lost its two thirds majority in parliament.

On 09 March 2008, my wife and I went, for the first time, to The Father’s House in Bangsar, the meeting place of Bangsar Lutheran Church (BLC).

We went because we had been invited by a long-time friend and former co-worker of my wife at Malaysian CARE: we felt close to Soo Choo, whom we had visited in Afghanistan, who had introduced us to the abuse of foreign workers in Malaysia and who, when we joined a vigil for Revathy, had shown us how not to get hurt during candle light vigils.

We also went because we were frustrated over our membership of the church which counted us as members at that time – a church whose members considered being a Christian more a personal salvation thing: “I’m saved, I’m blessed, I’m going to heaven, I can show you how,” and less a revolutionary thing: “I’m under God’s reign, and I’m going to work to extend His rule over everyone and everything, which means revealing and opposing injustice.”

My wife and I attended that church every Sunday we were in town, except on occasions when I agreed to preach elsewhere.  We never attended a service anywhere else; once I was horrified when an associate pastor told me he sometimes attended services elsewhere ‘to get a boost’!  For a couple of years I was even an official leader in that church.

On 09 March 2008 we attended BLC’s Sunday service because our friend was persistent, and we felt our attending would please her.

We were pleased the guest preacher was our former pastor, Dr Tan Soo Inn, for whom we have the greatest respect and whom we call a friend.  We were thrilled when the pastor of BLC, Revd. Sivin Kit, asked the congregation to share their experiences from the day before.

We saw how engaged BLC members were with society.

They came across as people who swim against the tide – as disciples.  They came across as people who wanted to change the world, who believed their actions could make a difference.  We heard stories of how they resisted ‘baddies’ and prevented cheating in the polling centres they volunteered at.  We were stunned by how much younger they were than us.

We wondered if we could fit in: we were in the group of 10 oldest people present on that day, and there appeared to be only one other Indian there.  Also, the usual thing happened: only those who were the ‘official greeters’ spoke warmly with us – just a few words: and a few who knew us from our then church came up to say hello.

We didn’t feel welcome.

But we know what a church is: it’s not church members who decide who should become church members.  It’s God who decides.  If a disciple doesn’t feel welcome, he or she has to conclude it’s his or her own fault, never the other way around.  We felt a certain attraction to BLC, which we couldn’t quite pin down.

Sivin came and spoke with us.  He asked me what I thought of the church.

A thought came to mind.  I said BLC reminded me of what was said of the church pastored by the British theologian (and much more) P T Forsyth (1848-1921) in London: it was like Adullam’s cave.  I had to explain what that meant.

Before David became King, he was hounded by King Saul.  One of David’s hiding places was called the Cave of Adullam.  Those who were loyal to David, those who recognized him as a righteous man, and a man chosen by God, stayed with him.  They swam against the tide: they were amongst the few who wouldn’t betray David, not even to their lawful King, Saul.

While talking to Sivin I showed him the photo I had on my phone as a screen saver: a photo of another pastor-theologian who has long been a great influence on my life: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945).  I discovered that Sivin too had been enriched by Bonhoeffer, and that he valued the study of theology: something frowned upon by my pastor at that time.

I’ll cut a 5 year story short.

After Sunday 09 March 2008, my wife and I have attended BLC every Sunday we’ve been in town, except on occasions when I agreed to preach elsewhere.

We attended membership classes and became members.  We joined a home group and we came to know and to love the members of that group – despite the fact that the group rarely met, and that we were the oldest members!

We contributed what we could of our time, abilities and finances to spur and to encourage the church.  We came to know, to love and sometimes to weep over the mostly younger members.

We remain astonished that we were able to fit in.

I have little in common with most others in BLC – I love “heavy” books, I’m a senior executive in a multinational company, I don’t have a Twitter account, I’ve never played a computer game, I don’t use most of the features on my smartphone, I abhor coarse language.

Yet I don’t feel like an anomaly.  I feel loved and valued.  I feel I’m in a congregation which understands what it means to identify with the downtrodden, and to be unafraid of oppressors, just like the Messiah.

Joyce, my wife, is much less outgoing than I am.  But she is greeted so warmly every time we meet BLC members.  She knows there are many in BLC who care about her, and are pleased that she cares about them.  She too feels at home in BLC: the church which we could only integrate into after we joined Facebook!

We are now in the Netherlands.  We miss our BLC family.  We look forward to coming home.

Happy Birthday Emily!

Today is Pastor Emily’s birthday, which we celebrated with a specially made cake courtesy of Adeline!

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Of course, our resident I Love Food gremlin tried to abscond with the goodies!

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Blessed birthday, Emily – may God’s blessing, provision, joy and peace be yours!