BLC Gardening Day – 4 Feb 2017

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Did you know BLC has a community garden?

Well, we do (it’s been growing for more than a year now!) and it’s under the care of a regular set of volunteers who enjoy gardening… and the fellowship that comes out of gardening together.

Our next opportunity to meet and do gardening together is coming soon. You’re invited to join us – whether you think you have green fingers or not!  It’s just right after Chinese New Year, so for those hoping to lose CNY calories, gardening is a little more fun than indoor gym! 🙂

  • Date: Saturday, 4 Feb 2017
  • Time: 8:30am to 10:30am (we’ll start gardening first, then wrap up with a time of sharing together)

If you’d like to participate, please contact Charis or email rumahpapa[dot]admin[at]gmail[dot]com. This is an open event – all are welcome!

Read more about our BLC Community Garden adventures here.

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Yeshua’s Prayer – Komeil

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Yeshua’s Prayer – by Komeil

One of BLC’s blessings is having Komeil as a BLC Family member! He is a talented artist (check out his Facebook page here) and musician.

During our 16th anniversary celebrations last week, Komeil drew us a special illustration for our bulletin cover. Here he is explaining it in his own words (slightly edited for clarity and grammar):

I think the best title would be ‘Yeshua’s Prayer’.

The idea of the moon and its reflection is to express the relation between earth and heaven. The original verse reads, “…on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s when I started to think… “On earth… Why shouldn’t God’s will be done? As perfect as it is in heaven… I draw a perfect moon on earth (below) where Jesus stands, praying.

The moon above is resonating: God is listening. We  know how to speak softly, but  we may need to learn how to listen softly as well. God listens… God’s heart is soft… He is softer than water… He walks on water…

The moon bellow is the perfect moon… Our perfect God… He would not be our Saviour if He did not become flesh.. The moon bellow is a perfect moon… God’s will on earth shall be so perfectly done that this heaven, the one on earth will shed light on the entire universe.

These are my interpretations as one viewer. Everyone can read the painting in a different way.

Celebrating 16 Years Of God’s Grace To BLC!

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Last Saturday, BLC celebrated our 16th anniversary since being “resurrected” on 1 April 2000. Yes, we were aptly founded on April Fool’s Day – Sivin even recalled the sermon during the first service asked the initial 20-or-so congregants, “Are you ready to be fools for Christ?”

To celebrate, we held our worship service on Saturday evening. During the service, we were blessed to have special presentations by the children. We also had a video presentation highlighting scenes from our early years (2000-2004).

Sivin continued the preaching series on The Kingdom Prayer – focusing on “Your Kingdom Come,” where he interweaved stories about starting BLC with the message on what it meant to pray for God’s kingdom to be embodied on earth.

We also had a special bulletin cover designed by our very own Komeil and also printed our story as a take home for everyone. Our altar decoration also featured our first ear of corn from our community garden – a first fruit offering from this cycle’s harvest!

We even wished BLC a happy birthday with a song and a home-baked cake!

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The Birthday Cake and Our BLC Circle. (Photo credit: James Lim)

Finally, we had a potluck dinner where many folks contributed a scrumptious smorgasbord of food!

Our heartfelt thanks to Michelle and Stephanie for organizing most of the anniversary celebrations today (especially the programme, coordination, and for organizing the massive potluck dinner)! Thanks also to Adeline for helping coordinate, Komeil for the special bulletin cover, Priscilla for the BLC birthday cake, the children for blessing us with musical gifts, Benjamin and the worship music team, as well as Clarice and team for the harvest from our garden. Thank also to all of YOU – for all your contributions big and small.

The church is ultimately its people – this celebration was a clear showcase of that!

More pics here, courtesy of Ben and Vanessa (www.dimanajua.com).

(Check out Alpha’s Facebook Live post on the aftermath of our celebrations!)

Thoughts on Rewilding in BLC (or: A Version of Eco-Theology) – Benjamin Ong

BLC Tree Planting - 31 Jul 2016

Last week, we planted two trees in church: a neem tree, dubbed the Luther Tree, and a wild cinnamon, dubbed the BLC Tree.

Left: Sivin blesses the neem tree, a tree of Indian origin with many medicinal and cultural uses. 
Right: Leigh and Clarice plant the neem, near the path where its fragrance can be felt.

Now tree planting is, to say the least, not the most common of church activities. But in this time and age, nothing could be more appropriate. Let me begin by recalling an anecdote Sivin used in his sermon: he compared the fascination of children, seeing taugeh germinating from the seed, to the jaded eyes of those of us who are older—‘OK taugeh, so how to fry ah?’ It reminded me of how an anthropocentric worldview—one that places man at the centre of the universe—ultimately results in a distorted perspective of nature that has all living things defined according to their usefulness, direct or indirect, to humans. But if we as Christians are serious about the salvation of the world, then we must recognise that—as Soo-Inn once pointed out—the entire narrative of the Bible is sandwiched between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22. We preach the salvation of creation, not just of humanity.

The imagery of Leviathan from the book of Job is appropriate. It is good to create a space where it is not about our dominion and manipulation of nature. While horticulture and agriculture have given us the means to sustain human civilisation—I, for one, love eating and exploring Earth’s bounty and all the diverse cuisines that humankind, over the ages, has wrought from it—we would be missing something if we perceived nature primarily through the eyes of edibility or even usefulness. Who are we deceiving? In our efforts to culture the world and all that is in it—to make it subservient to our needs, to make it conform to our systems—have we perhaps missed out on appreciating raw, wild beauty?

Some may counter this by saying, let us accord to the city that which is the city’s (man’s dominion), and to the wilderness that which is the wild’s (nature’s dominion). But I think such dualistic thinking has no place in a theology that recognises one God as the maker of all things, man and otherwise. It seems humans have dominated everything: we have collected and sorted our specimens; we have organised knowledge of nature into convenient categories. Botanists, zoologists and farmers are to nature perhaps what theologians, scholars and pastors are to religion. And maybe that is why wilderness (in this case, the “urban wild”) is needed: to remind us of our place in creation. Maybe here lies the intersection between God, man and nature.

Sivin credited the donation of the wild cinnamon to me, something I later clarified. It is useful to repeat the lesson here: I started the ecology project that got us looking at trees in urban neighbourhoods; Van harvested the wild cinnamon from a drainside slope; Fitrah runs the nursery that nurtured it. But ultimately it is God who makes a plant grow. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

Left: Planting the wild cinnamon; I didn’t notice the crowd of curious onlookers!
Right: The children then watered both trees.

“Consider the lilies of the field,” Jesus said, “how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” The lilies of the field are the wildflowers, not the ‘cultured’ flowers created by genetic manipulation or artificial selection to look good in Valentine bouquets or funeral wreaths. The latter speaks to the genius of man; the former, to the genius of God. Again Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” That is only half true: having eaten the fruits of trees, a bird sows the seed (though it knows it not) that becomes the tree of life that, in time, comes to bless the hundreds and thousands of birds and myriad creatures that take shelter and sustenance from it. Consider the banyan at BLC’s corner—a fine example of this phenomenon.

Left: The banyan at the corner of our church, December 2015.
Right: The treeshrew skull discovered in our backyard, June 2015.

I remember when we discovered the treeshrew skull last year. It was as if to say, here is life. Whether that life has any bearing on man or not, it doesn’t matter. Here is life we may not be able harvest for our curries, or arrange for altar decoration; but here is life nonetheless, wild and free, imbued by the spirit of its Creator.

So, back to our two trees. On the one hand, represented by the neem you have sustainable greening, urban farming and permaculture, where we cultivate that which is useful to us in a way that is environmentally friendly and harmonious with nature. On the other, represented by the wild cinnamon you have rewilding, where we more or less let nature chart its course and reap indirect benefits. We need both for a sustainable future—the yin and the yang, the dark side and the light. BLC has long had a reputation as a “safe space”—may we even now be a safe space to that which is chaotic and chthonic: nature in its wild, resplendent beauty.

Planting Trees As An Act Of Worship; Bringing Healing To The Nations

BLC Tree Planting - 31 Jul 2016

At BLC, we are learning how to worship God by appreciating His handiwork in nature as well as to grow in discipleship through our role as stewards of creation. This led to the creation of our BLC Community Garden last year. Yesterday, we continued to grow in this space as we planted two trees, as an act of worship.

The first tree we planted was dubbed the “Luther Tree”. This tree was planted as part of the global Lutheran World Federation (“LWF”) celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. This act is inspired by a quote ascribed to Martin Luther

“Even if I knew that the world were to collapse tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.”

Via LWF:

As a means of giving expression to the 500 yeas of the Reformation, the Luthergarten (Luthergarden) has been established in Wittenberg on the grounds of the former town fortifications. In connection with this project, 500 trees will be planted at different places in the city region, giving a concrete sign of the optimism so clearly expressed in Luther’s apple tree quote.

Churches from all over the world and from all confessions are being invited to sponsor one of the 500 trees to be planted in Wittenberg, and at the same time to plant a corresponding tree in a place that is significant for their own church.

Our Luther Tree is actually a Neem Tree that was found, abandoned and ignored, on our grounds. The Neem Tree is treasured, especially by the Indian community, for its medicinal properties. We are particularly glad to have redeemed this tree and given it a place of honor – beside the footpath our parishioners walk on as they come to church.
The other is the BLC Tree, a wild cinnamon tree, a gift from Ben & Vanessa, who wanted to encourage us to appreciate plants that are native to Malaysia.

 

Besides helping at the Tree Planting ceremony, the children also were given seedlings to sprout before being transplanted into our community garden today!

 

As we were planting the trees, Pastor Sivin read from Revelations 22:2

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Interestingly, Anand discovered that both the Neem Tree and cinnamon have healing properties and said, “We have planted a pharmacy today at BLC.”

All of this is a humble picture and reminder of God’s continued to work in our lives: even if we were initially abandoned and ignored, or whether we are just “here” – native, to our environment, as it were – His grace restores us to a place of honor so that we can channel God’s healing to the world around us.

Check out our full photo album from that day here:

The BLC Community Garden – The Big Dig!

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The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.
To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. – Alfred Austin

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. – Gertrude Jekyll

After mooting the idea earlier this year, we finally arrived on the day of The Big Dig for our “BLC Community Garden”!

The BLC Community Garden was mooted as an idea to utilize the space we have to plant herbs and vegetables (to start with) to bless the community, within BLC and beyond.

We hope the harvest from our garden can become a blessing to members of our Church (taking home some fresh herbs after service on Sunday for dinner!) and to the community around us (whether it is our neighbors opposite us – or even beyond: anyone who could use some fresh vegetables!). The BLC Community Garden is all about learning how to be Christ-followers TOGETHER – planting a community garden, we think, is one of the most creative, fulfilling, and relationship-building ways to do it.

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We partnered with Eats, Shoots & Roots, a social enterprise with a simple aim: To empower urban individuals and communities with skills and tools to grow their own food, and build a sense of resilience in the city. Eats, Shoots & Roots helped us lead The Big Dig and facilitated informal workshops about the process and techniques of building edible garden beds.

The day started off with a briefing and workshop by Eats, Shoots & Roots. After that, everyone was split into several working teams: one to work on the herb patch, another to work on the vegetable patch, in a “grow tong”. The children were also involved as a team of their own, and also as they helped here and there with various tasks.

After several hours of work, we finally completed building the two garden beds and are looking forward to a harvest soon!

11752540_10152945715900825_5279935100466621139_nThe Grow Tong for our Vegetable Patch

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The Herb Patch, built with love, a little bit of OCD, and some anger management 🙂

Today’s Big Dig for the garden is a start of a journey. With the garden underway, we could also explore:

  • Enjoying fresh Church/Home-grown groceries
  • Workshops on gardening/sustainable lifestyle
  • Having Kitchen parties and/or cooking classes
  • Inviting friends and family members to hang out at church to co-labour with us
  • Having prayer walks in the garden
  • Connecting/partnering with other environmental organizations and schools
  • Becoming a teaching ground for others – ages kids and up!

 

We are grateful to have Clarice help us kick off this project, as well as Jason and Rubini for helping us organize today’s Big Dig! We are also encouraged to have a great turnout for today’s event – it was a blessing to meet new friends as well as get reacquainted with “old visitors”.

Here’s to the next adventure ahead with The Community Garden!

More pics from The Big Dig available here.

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