Tag Archives: Church Festivals

Good Friday 受難日‬@ Advent Church

A few highlights of our lunchtime service at Advent Church today….

The sermon took the words of John 18: 37-38…

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.

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彼拉多問:「真理是甚麼?」Pilate asked, ‘What is truth?”

‘‎真理‬'(zhēnlĭ) ‘‎Truth’‬ ‪~ the Chinese characters are carved on the nave of Advent Church, along with the characters for ‘the way’ and ‘the life’ above and below.

Pilate asked, “What is truth?”  

A suitable thought to meditate upon this Good Friday afternoon.

Maundy Thursday 設立聖餐日@ Advent Church

Pouring with rain and with a strong wind as a very late cold front has suddenly arrived in the last day or two bringing with it some horrible weather and a return to winter temperatures ~ hey, we’re used to it by now, but this winter seems far from over, and it’s almost April! But as you’ll see from the photos below, some of our hardy students are still walking around in T-shirts saying they can’t understand what all the fuss is about!

Our annual Maundy Thursday service was last night, and Thursday evening is also the evening when our St. John’s University student fellowship meets, usually about 30 of them. Actually they meet every evening for different activities, but their main gathering is on Thursdays. It’s open to any of our students, and it seems that about half of those who come are already Christians and half not. Some are interested in the Christian faith, some would really like to be baptised but too scared to ask their parents, others have asked and their parents say no, others are waiting until they they reach their final year hoping their parents will come round in the meantime.  But there’s also many who are not interested, they’re here because they like the friendship and fun. Everyone’s welcome! But they all volunteered in equal numbers for the foot-washing, either to have their feet washed or to carry water and arrange the towels and bowls.

So we had 12 volunteers for foot-washing, 11 of them students from our student fellowship, plus Yu-lin who works with the students in our chaplaincy office ~ and 4 foot-washers, our 2 clergy, one churchwarden and Shu-Jing who also works with the students in our chaplaincy office….

One of our students, Mei-han is preparing for her baptism on Easter Eve, she had her feet washed by our churchwarden.  After the foot-washing, we had communion, and at the end of the service, prepared the church for Good Friday ~ cleared the altar and covered the crosses with black cloth, and then read Psalm 22 in a darkened church….

Psalm 22:1 ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’

And so we pause to remember the last evening and last night of Jesus’ life on earth…

PS Turns out that the reason why the girls were all smiling in the foot-washing photos was because the water was freezing cold, and they’d mostly put both feet in the water together, hence their ‘grin and bear it’ kind of expressions!

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

The Church of England’s Holy Week and Easter short film of Psalm 22….

“My God, My God why have you forsaken me ?” The words spoken by Jesus on the Cross from Psalm 22 inspired our new JustPray video for Easter. The film follows on from The Lord’s Prayer advert launched by the Church last Christmas which was banned by cinemas for its religious content.

The stars of the film have struggled with drug addiction, crime and homelessness on their journey to faith. Find out more about their stories here: http://www.justpray.uk/Psalm%2022/  Visit www.justpray.uk to learn more about prayer and to share your own prayers.

So do check the Just Pray website here and especially the background stories of the people in the film, and their Saturday Night Gathering…. brilliant!

棕枝主日‬ Palm Sunday 2016 @ Advent Church

Palm Sunday 2016 ~ and now the start of Holy Week!

Yesterday at Advent Church, a procession with palms around the church stopping for a few seconds at each Station of the Cross, and then a drama of the events of Holy Week during the Gospel reading….

At the end of of the service, our rector Rev. Lennon Chang encouraged to do less of 3 things and more of 3 others during this coming Holy Week ~ less talking, less eating and less watching TV, and more confessing of our sins, more praying, more reading the Bible…..

So wishing y’all a thoughtful, meaningful and blessed Holy Week….

PS Notice the absence of the crown of thorns on the man playing Jesus in the drama?  It’s lost!  Hoping to find it before Good Friday!

Christmas Eve @ Advent Church!

The highlight of Christmas Eve at St. John’s University every year is our Christmas Eve Service in Advent Church, well-attended by students, church members, local people and visitors ~ YES!

Last night the service started at 7:30pm, and we also had 2 baptisms  ~ a gorgeous 2-month-old baby, son of our lovely church members; and one of our SJU Student Fellowship students in his 4th and final year, who was supported by all the Student Fellowship.  We started the service in darkness, then with candles ~ BEAUTIFUL!  And we finished the service with rice porridge and birthday cake!

Thanking God for all our Christmas celebrations, for the newly-baptized, and for all those who were able to come to the service.  Earlier in the day we had been on our 4th and final Advent Walkabout around the SJU campus lighting all the candles on the Advent wreath in each office and singing ‘Silent Night’.  We’d also had a Student Fellowship Christmas Party – a non-stop day!

We thank God for all those in Taiwan who’ve heard the good news of Christmas in the last few weeks.  We uphold in prayer those who want to respond, but opposition from their families makes it difficult for them to do so ~ may the light of Christ shine in their lives and be a witness in their homes and families this Christmas!

Advent Sunday @ 台灣聖公會嘉義聖彼得堂 St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Chiayi

Advent Sunday is always special ~ at last the excitement of Christmas coming can officially start ~ YES!

And Advent at St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi this year is extra-special because they’ve just finished a major overhaul of the church building.  A big renovation project and big challenge for the vicar, Rev. Simon Tsou Tsai-Shin 鄒才新牧師 and all the church members ~ but thankfully it’s all finished (apart from paying the bills!) and in 2 weeks time, Bishop Lai is leading a dedication for the newly-finished building.

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St. Peter’s Church building was originally not a church at all, but part of a Japanese era house and garden – the church building was where the owner entertained guests, maybe drank tea and generally held court.  When the church bought the property, the only building worth saving was the one which was transformed into a church.  That’s why it looks so distinctive!

But while the church members were busy working on building the Kingdom of God down below, unknown to them, termites were very busy building their own termite kingdom in the roof up above! Actually, maybe more of an empire than a kingdom ~ a takeover by force.  Last year, some minor termite damage in some of the window frames was discovered, and repairs made, but then on further investigation it was found that many of the wooden roof beams and supports were much worse!  Turned out that some were completely hollow, totally eaten away by the termites.  Ready to collapse down onto the floor below at any moment!

Investigation of the church roof was considerably hampered by the discovery that there were 2 ceilings, one on top of the other – with a big gap in-between, and in that gap, the termites were found to be building a colony big enough to take over the world.  Like in a sci-fi film ~ but for real.

And so renovation work has been going on for much of the year, and many of the original wooden beams have been replaced, and it now looks really good.   The wood is a kind of Japanese cypress, and there’s now no ceiling at all – which will make it much easier to manage and check for future problems, as well as being cheaper, making the church seem bigger, lighter and a bit cooler in the summer months.  Plus of course it looks kind of cool ~ all those exposed wooden beams are really beautiful!

The bits of wood that were left over were made into holding crosses, also with strings attached, and are being sold to fund the renovation.  They are really special!

So here we all are on Advent Sunday at the 10:00am service, which included commissioning of the new church committee and worship teams, followed by scrumptious lunch, and saxophone performance!

At St. Peter’s, I was so happy to meet Mrs. Grace Chien, who with her husband, Bishop John Chien gave me such a warm welcome when I first came to Taiwan.  Bishop Chien died in March 2013, and Mrs. Chien continues to live in the Chiayi area ~ she’s invaluable at St. Peter’s Church, helping with training the young organist ~ and she lit the first Advent Candle of Advent 2015!

Actually, I spent most of the weekend at St. Peter’s Church, arriving on Friday in time for an English Bible Study for senior high-school students. It was great!  In fact, many of the young people at St. Peter’s come in the evenings after school and eat dinner with Rev. Simon Tsou and his family ~ and they all say that the main attraction is the food cooked by Simon’s very lovely mother, who lives there too. She just loves to cook ~ as do many of the church members – so there’s a constant supply of yummy things to eat at every meal!

On Saturday, I went with the St. Peter’s group to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations at All Saints Church, Gangshan, about 80 minutes drive away…..

And by thIMG_0032e time we got back to St. Peter’s mid-afternoon, the place was already full of young people arriving early for the evening’s youth group! We were also visited by Rev. Lily Chang and my good friends from St. James’ Church, Taichung, who were on their way home from All Saints Church, and wanted to see the new-look St. Peter’s Church YA!  Aren’t the roof beams amazing?!

As cities in Taiwan go, Chiayi is quite small and very spread out, but there are places where there’s crowds of people ~ and they seem to be all in the area around St. Peter’s!  Opposite the church is a park that is busy all day and all night – in the evenings there are often concerts, and of course there’s the famous Wen-Hua Road Night Market, right there, just across the park from the church.   Well, who can resist a night market?!  And so off I went – it was still early so not too many people ~ what a great place!

And by the time I got back, the church youth group was preparing to eat – another feast!

IMG_0763I just had to buy a shirt and a hat from that night market ~ and Mrs. Chien was so delighted that she took a photo on her iPad for her family – this is it! It was so nice to see so much of her over the weekend, such a great lady – Grace by name and so graceful by nature!

So please pray for St. Peter’s Church, all the young people and church members, the kindergarten and for Rev. Simon Tsou and his family ~ his mother, his wife and son, and such a great outreach to all those high school students! Praise God!