Visiting SJC?


Vicar’s write 3/4 March 2018

posted 04.03.2018

Shalom from Jerusalem as I wind down my personal visit. Thought I share a lesson from the ubiquitous oil lamp we often see and co-relate it to Psalm 119:105 which says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.”

In our Anglican baptism liturgy we are told “Receive this light”; a reference to the Light of Christ we are asked to bring into where God will place us. The first mention of lamp in the Bible is the menorah or the only light source in the Tabernacle where the Presence of God met with Moses and the priests ministering there.

The traditional clay oil lamp in the Bible reminds us to shine for God. Made of clay we know we are from the dust of earth; fragile and ordinary; yet God graciously uses us by grace. If we are left on the shelf to provide light that should be more than enough but often by grace God uses us in ways that we cannot even ask or imagine.

The clay oil lamp is only a vessel and it can give light when there is oil and a burning wick. Which is more important? We easily mistake that the wick is more critical but actually the wick can last a long time when cared for. It is the oil that burns and the oil in each lamp needs constant topping up. This oil is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are like the wick, cooperating with the Holy Spirit acting as a channel or conduit and let the oil (Holy Spirit) burn giving light and shine into the darkness for God’s glory.

If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, it is akin to burning the wick without the oil. It will burn and perhaps even brightly but will quickly extinguish. We are NOT meant to live like this but in total reliance to God. Hence the call to us is to be always watchful (the parable of the ten virgins) lest we find ourselves “deceived” about our own salvation and live as if it depends on us and not on God’s grace alone.

Psalm 119:105 is often a verse we have memorized. Psalm 119 is also uniquely sandwiched between 2 significant groups of psalms: the Great Hallel recited at each Passover (Psalm 113-118) and the Songs of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). This as a metaphor of a life of discipleship: we are redeemed and reconciled to God by Jesus’ sacrificial death as the Lamb of God at the Passover and fulfilled at the Cross. But this is only the beginning and not the end; we are pilgrims on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem and the Songs of Ascents are our prayers as we sojourn till we reach this kingdom of God that is coming so very soon!

Meanwhile how do we shine and not burn out? Watch the oil and top it up to ensure that it is the oil burning and not the wick. Psalm 119 or commonly called the Word of God psalm is God’s provision. May we spend time daily in this precious word and let the Holy Spirit top us up and shine for Jesus! Here in St James’ Church, it is our eager desire that “Everyone Matters; Everyone Discipled” becomes a reality as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be sanctified and participate in the fulfillment of the Great Commission and usher in the return of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!

Ps Siang Guan