CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A community of hope embracing a community of pain

The English service of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was hosted by Rosary Church in Tsimshatsui, on the evening of January 22. Maryknoll Father Michael Sloboda, the assistant parish priest, welcomed all to the unity service. An ecumenical working group in Indonesia prepared this year’s materials, while the event was co-sponsored by the Hong Kong Christian Council and the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Commission. 
 
The hour-long worship featured music, prayers and a sermon on the theme Justice and Only Justice You Shall Pursue (Deuteronomy 16:18-20). The liturgy was led by ecumenical representatives including Bishop Chang Chun-wa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Hong Kong and Reverend Maggie Mathieson of Kowloon Union Church. Claretian Father Josekutty Mathew and Ignatius Lee of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission participated alongside laity from Rosary parish and other local congregations.
 
Selected hymns were familiar favourites such as Here I Am, Lord and We Are One in the Spirit so that all could join in singing. The talented musical team at Rosary parish provided lush accompaniment on organ, guitar and flute. 
 
Pastor Tony Read of The Vine Church, delivered a powerful message in the sermon. Speaking on the theme of justice, he asked how the Church could be a bridge to connect God’s message of love and peace with the harsh reality of political corruption, economic inequality and unrelenting violence. 
 
He said that we find the answer in God’s response to evil in the world. Instead of raining down condemnation and destruction upon the earth, God sent Jesus Christ as a “lightning bolt of justice” to show us what righteousness looks like in the Kingdom of God being established in our midst. Our call then as Christians is to be the physical expression of that justice in the midst of all the injustices around us. 
 
Systemic evil is the source of systemic injustice, he said, so Christians must go beyond personal concerns about one’s own sin and salvation. 
 
Pastor Read emphasised that Christian unity demands a response of compassion and the action of speaking out. When justice is truly the hallmark, the Church will be turned inside out in order to turn the world upside down. “The Church is at its best as a community of hope wrapping its arms around a community of pain,” he concluded. 
 
The offering was collected for the Wah Fu Shelter for Indonesians in Hong Kong, which is run by the Catholic Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Migrants and administered by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
 
In 2018, Wah Fu Shelter served over 150 Indonesian women by providing free accommodation, legal assistance, counselling, housekeeping training, therapeutic activities and spiritual support. The women gratefully acknowledged that these services and programmes relieved them of stress and anxieties, strengthened their faith, and helped them gain more friends and support.
 
The Unity Service was recorded by RTHK-Radio 4 and aired on January 27 as the weekly Church service broadcast. You may listen to the broadcast on the archives of Radio 4 at http://www.rthk.hk/radio/radio4/programme/churchservice.
 
On behalf of the Hong Kong Christian Council and all those attending, we extend a big thank you to Rosary Church for their warm welcome and gracious hospitality!
 
 
Reverend Judy Chan

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