Advent Church 敬祖主日Ancestor Memorial Liturgy

Every year on the Sunday before Chinese New Year, the Taiwan Episcopal Church has special prayers and liturgy to remember our ancestors…

We give thanks to God for our ancestors, and remember the legacy they have left us, that without them we would not be where we are nor who we are…

Ancestor worship is very much part of the Chinese New Year tradition.   Christians honor, respect, give thanks and pray for their ancestors rather than worship them, and this is one way for the church to be part of that.

This was the scene yesterday at the back of Advent Church at the end of the Holy Communion service….

Ancestor worship is not just part of the Chinese New Year tradition, but for many it is a major part of their daily lives.  For those considering the Christian faith, it is also a major obstacle.  Each Christian denomination responds in different ways to this, on a sliding scale from accommodation to total rejection.  The Taiwan Episcopal Church stands at some midway point, and this is one way to express our faith in one God and our respect for those who have gone before us….

聖約翰科技大學 ‘長齡生命關懷中心新建工程’ 動土典禮 SJU Advent Church Centre ~ Groundbreaking Ceremony!

Today is the day!  After 3 years of fundraising, another 2 years of planning and getting permits, today we have launched forth on the construction of our long-awaited new church centre behind Advent Church in the grounds of St. John’s University ~ YES!

Our chaplain and rector, Rev. Lennon Chang is finally seeing his (and our) vision being fulfilled, praise God. He has worked and prayed so hard for this, and we have joined in!  And why? Because as our church has grown and as we do more and more church outreach into the local community, and as the university also opens up more and more, so we realize that Advent Church is no way big enough for all that’s going on and all that we would like to do… there’s only the church building itself and 2 small rooms at the back.  So in the new centre will be a large hall, many smaller rooms, kitchen and all sorts of new facilities for everyone to use and for us to welcome the local community in more and more ~ YES!

Today’s Groundbreaking Ceremony and Service was wonderful – the sun shone, the sky was blue, perfect beautiful weather!

VIPs galore (all except the Chair of the Trustees and our SJU President, both unfortunately ill with flu), including Bishop Lai, SJU trustees, SJU Vice-President Wang, the Mayor of Tamsui, SJU Alumni, the architect and construction firm, plus lots of church members, university faculty and staff, students and local community….

We had a walkabout around the construction site singing hymns, then prayers, Bible readings, speeches from the Mayor and representatives of the SJU trustees, SJU alumni and the bank, then the groundbreaking ceremony – all wearing helmets, white gloves and holding red and gold spades ~ and followed by Bishop Lai’s prayers and blessing, then photos and interviews with the press, and finally lunch!

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Praise the Lord the project is finally underway!  We start with a 3-day non-stop power cut just after Chinese New Year the week after next (to remove the electricity substation currently located on the construction site) …. and work is expected to be finished in the autumn.

So watch this space, and please keep us all in your prayers!

鄭啟璋弟兄追思禮拜….RIP 鄭伯伯

49 years!  49 years of praying ~ that truly shows some dedication and perseverance…

That’s how long Mrs. Cheng prayed for her husband before he finally decided to become a Christian.  This family sure has an amazing testimony!

On Saturday we gathered at Advent Church for the funeral of the man we knew as 鄭伯伯 Mr. (Uncle) Cheng, who died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 90.  His son and family have long been members of our church while Mrs. Cheng always went along to the Presbyterian Church in Tamsui, near their home, and would come with her son here once a year on Mother’s Day.  But never with Mr. Cheng!

Until 4 years ago, that is!  In 2009, aged 86, Mr. Cheng made a radical decision – to become a Christian and be baptized.  A whole new beginning for him and his family!

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Mr. Cheng came from Mainland China to Taiwan alone at the age of 27, and after years of study became a professor of P. E. at TamKang University in Tamsui.  Aged 36 he married Mrs. Cheng.  She has a very long Christian heritage as a 3rd generation Christian from the Chen family of Xindian (the other end of Taipei) where her grandfather was Presbyterian pastor, one of the original students of Rev. George L. Mackay……

And so there followed 49 long years of prayer for her husband to come to faith……

In 2009 Mr. Cheng was in hospital, very ill.  One of Mrs. Cheng’s relatives, a pastor, visited him, and asked him a simple question about what would happen to him after his death. Mr. Cheng was deeply challenged and troubled by that question, and knew he could no longer put off making a decision.  When he came home from hospital, still very weak, he called our rector (who had been visiting him for several years and sharing the Gospel), who came to the house and baptized him.

Amazingly, Mr. Cheng recovered from that illness.  In fact, he lived on for another 4 years, became a very committed Christian; and whenever his health allowed, he was always in our church on a Sunday with his wife beside him.

We give thanks to God for Mr. Cheng’s testimony, his wife’s faithfulness in prayer over the years, and for all the family ~ God certainly works in amazing ways!

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!