Tag Archives: St. Peter’s Church Chiayi

Advent Word 2017, Day 7 ‘focus’

#AdventWord #focus

‘Imagine the lenses in your glasses get accidentally switched – everything is out of FOCUS; blurry. Today, be still and take time to FOCUS. You will see what you have never seen’.

Visit to the Taiwan Episcopal Church 台灣聖公會 of Bishop John A. Pinckney from Taiwan’s Companion Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), October 1965.

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St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi 台灣聖公會嘉義聖彼得堂, through Ms. An-Veng Loh’s ministry, developed an amazing Christian Education program.

I love CMS! A Great Big Welcome to Taiwan for Raj Patel, CMS Regional Manager for Asia ~ all the way from Oxford ~ YES!

Yes, honest, I love CMS!  And all those associated with CMS ~ the mission partners, CMS staff, UK Link Churches and of course all those who welcome us to serve in their dioceses, churches, organizations and communities!

CMS stands for Church Mission Society ~ I joined in September 1989, served in Tanzania for 7 years, and then in January 1999 arrived in Taiwan and I’ve been here ever since, first at St. James’ Church, Taichung for 7 years, and since early 2007 based here at St. John’s University, on Taiwan’s NW coast.  My last formal CMS-UK visitors came in November 2007 when we were honoured to welcome 4 VIPs from CMS: Rev. Canon Tim Dakin, then General Secretary of CMS (now Bishop of Winchester); the Rev. Philip Simpson, then Eurasia Director, CMS; Rev. Canon Chye Ann Soh, then East Asia Director, CMS; and the Rev. Simon Na, then North East Asia Manager, CMS, based in South Korea ~ all were here for a 5-day whistle-stop tour of the country, which included the consecration of the new Education Building at St. James’ Church, Taichung.

How could we in Taiwan ever hope to follow on from such a high-level VIP delegation of such handsome and charming visitors?!  Impossible!  So we had a very long pause, and now, fast forward to 9 years later, we have just had the great honour of welcoming Raj Patel to visit Taiwan.  Equally handsome and as charming as the other 4, of course!  He’s in charge of the Asia office at CMS-UK HQ in Oxford, so definitely of VIP status!

Here he is arriving at the Taoyuan Airport last Wednesday ~ from the photo you can just sense his excitement and enthusiasm arriving in Taiwan for his first ever visit ~ YES!  Just don’t mention the typhoon that delayed him for 18 hours in Bangkok on his way here!

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And in case you’re wondering, yes I did take him to St. James’ Church and he saw the 4 VIP CMS visitors sitting in the front row of the photo taken after the Education Building Consecration Service on November 24, 2007 ….. Ah yes, we love welcoming CMS VIP’s!

But now, back to that typhoon…. This past summer, between July 8 and September 9, despite being a very active typhoon season, none came in this direction, all headed to Japan or Hong Kong instead. But from September 9 to September 27, in a space of 2 weeks, we had 3 typhoons, 2 of them direct hits.  Raj was supposed to arrive on Tuesday September 27, but it was not to be.  Typhoon Megi was big, and brought widespread devastation ~ thousands of trees, electricity poles, scaffolding and signboards were blown down, and there were power and water outages and major flooding in some areas. Fortunately the authorities called a Typhoon Day (work and classes cancelled) on Tuesday and extended it to Wednesday, so although it was bad, it could have been a lot worse. As it was, 7 people were killed and over 600 injured, with zillions of dollars of damage, particularly to agriculture.

So Raj was stuck in Bangkok and we were stuck here.  But good news came early on Wednesday September 28 when Raj arrived in the very early morning, and at 7:00 am there I was to welcome him at the airport – but unfortunately minus welcoming balloons (couldn’t get any cos of the typhoon) and minus tinsel (discovered on the day before that the termites had eaten it all) so we had my yellow Mauritius scarf instead ha ha!

So we had to pack Raj’s already packed 6-day itinerary into only 5 days, and non-stop it was!  First stop upon arrival was to a very grey and overcast St. John’s University (SJU) and Advent Church where the maintenance staff were busy cleaning up after the typhoon, and students and faculty all absent (all work and classes cancelled), except for SJU President Peter Herchang Ay 艾和昌, Advent Church Rector, Rev Lennon Chang Yuan-Rung 張員榮牧師 and SJU Acting Chaplain, Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang 吳興祥牧師 and his wife, who all came along for the Grand Welcome Coffee Reception ~ yes, great coffee and then lunch!

Raj had brought photos on his iPad to share with everyone about his family, life and background covering his early life in India and East Africa and then in the UK so he was much in demand at every place we went….

Second stop was St. Stephen’s Church, Keelung, on Taiwan’s NE coast, and about an hour’s drive from here.  Rev. Wu Hsing-Hsiang kindly drove us there.  Rev. Julia Lin Shu-Hua 林淑華牧師 had phoned up the children in the church-run after-school classes to ask them to come to meet Raj and to perform some music and welcome songs – the children were all at home as it was a Typhoon Day, but the typhoon was gone – so lots turned up and we had such a warm welcome! Raj told his life story by getting people of different ages to stand up to indicate the age at which something significant had happened to him, starting at the age of 6 when his family left Kenya to move back to India.  We also heard all about St. Stephen’s history and ministry and their recent mission trip to Sabah, and all followed by yummy yummy soup and fruits. Such a moving, fun and happy afternoon, and they were all so lovely – thank you!

And so to Taipei City to stay overnight in the diocesan guest house and to meet Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai, who had just come back from the USA early on the Tuesday morning, landing just before all flights were cancelled by the typhoon.  Most importantly we had tea-drinking and sharing in the theology of tea ~ Raj called it Bishop Lai’s ‘tea-ology’!

Sightseeing had to be crammed in and around the church visits, so I scheduled a Taipei City Sightseeing Tour for 6:00 am on Thursday ha ha!  Off we went on foot to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, the Presidential Office and Taipei Main Station, then by MRT to Taipei 101 and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial and back by bus in time for breakfast!

Next stop was St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei to meet our brand-new, very-lovely and always-smiling dean, Rev. Philip Lin Li-Feng 林立峰牧師, in fact, he’s so new that he is not yet installed, but we had such great coffee and then lunch along with Rev. Michael Liu. How could we ever forget that lunch?  Rev. Michael Liu is one of our esteemed senior clergy, and in 1973 he was sponsored by CMS to spend a year in the UK for church visits and particularly for a period of study at the Royal School of Church Music.  His memory is amazing, and we laughed the whole lunch through as he shared stories of his experiences in the UK, starting with the fact that he lost about 20 kg (3 stone) of weight in that year. Wow! You wanna lose weight? Just spend a year in the UK eating cucumber sandwiches and waiting until 8:30 pm for ‘supper’ which for him started with being given copious amounts of sherry, which Michael wasn’t used to and not expecting, and on an empty stomach – he drank 4 glasses of the stuff and then thought UK was having a major earthquake, only to find out it was the sherry taking its toll!

And so farewell to northern Taiwan, and off by High-Speed Rail (HSR) down south to Kaohsiung. 90 minutes by HSR covers a distance that would take 5 hours to drive, and it is oh, so smooth and comfortable.  And Raj will be ever grateful that I am not showing you the photos I took of him fast asleep the whole journey – his 18-hour wait in Bangkok finally caught up with him!  We took the Kaohsiung MRT to Formosa Boulevard Station 美麗島 which has the largest glass work in the world, the Dome of Light, a magnificent multi-coloured ceiling. I love it!

We stayed the night at St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung with Rev. Richard Lee Ray-Chiang 李瑞強牧師 and his family, they were so kind and welcoming.  Richard happily shared his testimony with us, they took us out for dinner, and for a tour of the church ~ it’s very moving to hear about and see the ministry of the church, and hear how the Gospel is moving hearts and minds in the city.

Friday morning and we were up for an early start to meet our good friend, Rev. Cheng Chen-Chang 鄭成章牧師 and his wife for the world’s most delicious breakfast (true true true!) and a quick visit to St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung.  The church is supposed to resemble a crown, and was designed by the same architect as Advent Church.  We met the principal and some of the children of the kindergarten, before rushing off the get the train to Tainan.  Ah, yes, non-stop action!

And 30 minutes later we were in Tainan, guests of Rev. Philip Ho Jeng-Long 何政隆牧師 and his wife Nancy.  Philip is a bundle of high energy and it’s very hard to keep up with him, but hey, we tried!  First he drove us to visit St. Andrew’s Kindergarten 聖安得烈宣道所 in ChiaDing 高雄市茄萣區 (variously spelt on signboards in the town as Jiading or Queding), where their son, Rev. Joseph Ho Ray-En 何睿恩牧師 is the newly-appointed priest in charge. The 30-minute drive towards the coast was lined by fallen trees after the typhoon and we discovered that the kindergarten had been closed an extra day on Thursday because of power and water cuts ~ they had also been flooded and were drying out when we arrived.  Such a warm welcome from the principal and staff and the 95 children who were having their lunch when we arrived, they loved to practice their English!

During lunch, the heavens opened and the sky came falling down.  Oh, such rain!  It was still going when we arrived at Grace Church, Tainan where we stayed the night and where Philip and Nancy have been based only since August 1.  Being new in the city, they’d invited their church members and friends, Hsiu-Chin and her husband to take them on a city tour for our benefit, and they did a great job – they also came along for dinner and the following morning too.

Tainan is the first and oldest city in southern Taiwan, and jam-packed full of history ~ and so after the rain stopped a bit, off we went to visit the famous and very beautiful National Museum of Taiwan Literature and the even more famous Taiwan Confucian Temple (built in 1665) and then Tainan Theological College and Seminary 台南神學院, run by the Presbyterian Church (founded in 1876 by Thomas Barclay from Scotland) ….

Philip and Nancy were biology teachers before they moved into full-time church ministry and so at 6:30 am on Saturday morning (and after a little persuasion!) we were up bright and early for a walk in the nearby but badly-affected-by-the-typhoon Barclay Park for a nature tour. Trying to keep up with Philip was quite a task but Raj managed it ~ and the rest of us followed far behind!

And so a fond farewell to Philip and Nancy, who were starting a nature class at Grace Church that morning, and off we went to visit my good friends, Dr. John Fan and his very lovely wife, Judy.  Judy is my former student from my adult English classes at St. James’ Church many years ago and their children were in the St. James’ Kindergarten. John is a psychiatrist, Judy a nurse and only a few weeks ago they moved to Tainan to open a psychiatric clinic not far from Grace Church.  So we spent a wonderful morning with them and their oldest son, Tim at the clinic, and later at the restaurant. Finally at last, after days and days of traveling round Taiwan, finally, finally Raj found someone who shared his passion for football and had heard of Leicester City F. C. Ah, he was so happy!

And so by train from Tainan, 45 minutes to Chiayi to visit St. Peter’s Church.  Mr. Carl Lee and his wife Anny kindly picked us up. Their vicar, Rev. Simon Tsou Tsai-Shin 鄒才新牧師 is actually in the USA at the moment on a visit to the Diocese of Los Angeles, so we were warmly welcomed by Simon’s wife, Lisa and their gorgeous son Jonah, who took to Raj immediately and kept appearing for a hug or a word of English. He was so fast that all the photos are blurred, but you get the idea!

Our purpose in visiting St. Peter’s Church was to meet and listen to one of their younger church members, Mr. Isaac Chen Wei-chieh 陳瑋杰 who was one of the 3 delegates from the Diocese of Taiwan to attend the Council of Churches of East Asia CCEA Youth Forum in Malaysia in the summer.  He had such a wonderful and moving experience at the Youth Forum, and as the subject was mission, and in particular the Five Marks of Mission, he kindly shared with us all about his experiences.  Quite a daunting challenge, but he did a great job!  Some of the church members also joined the meeting and we had some songs and prayers too, followed by tea.  Isaac and Raj got along very well, and it was such a great time of sharing and reflection together.  It was one of the highlights of Raj’s visit, he was still talking about Isaac on the way to the airport on Monday!

We then had a few hours for sightseeing and dinner, so our first stop was Hinoki Village, with 28 beautifully-restored Japanese-style Cypress buildings originally used by the Alishan Forestry Workers during the Japanese Colonial Era (1895-1945). The rain stopped just in time!  And then to a yummy Thai Restaurant, followed by Raj’s first visit to a Night Market.  Such fun, and thank you Carl, Anny and Isaac for your kindness!

And so to our last church (our 10th in 5 days!) ready for our Raj’s last full day in Taiwan on this trip ~ to St. James’ Church, Taichung with our church intern, Mr. Felix Chen Ming-You 陳銘佑. He is preparing for NSM ministry as a priest, and is on a placement at St. James, but helping out with the St. Peter’s Church Youth Group on Saturday evenings while their vicar is away.

He happily drove us to St. James, and we got there late evening, to be very warmly welcomed by the rector, Rev. Lily Chang Ling-Ling 張玲玲牧師.  On Sunday morning, Lily was to be at St. Peter’s Church, covering the service there, so we had Morning Prayer at the 9:30 am St. James’ English Service.  Raj had been invited to preach and we had a very dramatic sermon based on the day’s epistle reading from 2 Timothy 1: 1-14, especially verses 6-7: ‘I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.’  It was great fun, and of course will be long-remembered by everyone!  We even had a special group photo after the English Service…

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After a tea-break, we also attended the second half of the Chinese service which was led by my good friend, former student and retired priest, Rev. Sam Cheng Ching-San 鄭慶三牧師 who serves at the Church of the Leading Star in Taiping, about 30 minutes drive from St. James.  Then to the church lunch!

Jerry Liang, lay minister of the St. James’ English Congregation, and his wife, Jean and grandson James took wonderful care of us for the afternoon and off we went to WuFeng, an outer suburb of Taichung, near Jerry’s home and the mountains. The area suffered huge damage and devastation during the major earthquake on September 21, 1999 – nine months after I arrived in Taiwan, while I was living at St. James’ Church. There is now a museum there, called the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan‘ 國立自然科學博物館九二一地震教育園區 and “dedicated to the 7.3 earthquake that struck the center of Taiwan at 1:47 am on Tuesday, 21 September 1999. The museum is located on the site of the former Guangfu Junior High School; the shell of the building forms the exterior walls of the museum and the Museum’s Chelungpu Fault Gallery crosses the fault on which the earthquake occurred.”

It is both very terrible and very humbling to see so much damage and devastation, knowing over 2,000 people were killed in Taiwan on that day, and yet also amazing to see how well the damaged school has been preserved.  It was my first visit, and also Jean’s first visit. Many people have so many bad memories of that day and the aftershocks that followed, that lots of local people feel unable to visit – until now.  Many people visit the museum for the earthquake experience with shaking floors etc etc, but I was more interested in the damaged buildings and preservation…..

Then we visited the nearby WuFeng Lin Family Garden at Ming-Tai High School, originally built in the early 20th century but badly damaged by the 1999 earthquake and now restored. Beautiful!  We bought some traditional Taiwan Pearl Milk Tea and sat and drank it there, along with Jerry’s neighbour, Rev. Sam Cheng.  Amazingly this was the one and only place in all our 5 days of traveling around Taiwan that seemed unaffected by the typhoon.  The school has some tall cypress trees decorated with lights and baubles as for Christmas, and none of them seemed to have any damage at all!

And so back to St. James for a farewell dinner with Lily and senior warden Samuel Chen and his wife Luanne, supervisor of the St. James’ Kindergarten.  Raj was presented with some Chinese tea which had an ancient Chinese poem written on the box, Jerry read it out and we had a great time discussing the meaning.  For Jerry’s account of the day and lots of good photos, see his blog post here.

After the dinner, we had one last visit to make, to Lily’s mother, aged almost 90, who is staying with Lily and was busy playing on her iPad!  She loved meeting Raj and he loved meeting her.  She looked at his photos and shared about her life.  Turns out her surname is the same as mine, so we must be related!

Early to bed, early to rise!  Yesterday, Monday morning, Raj had a flight to catch at 7:50 am from Taoyuan Airport and really the only way to get there without disturbing everybody was by airport taxi service.  So at 3:00 am, there we were, in a taxi heading to the airport. For VIP visitors, it’s not too expensive, NT$ 2,100 ~ convenient, door to door and ah, so nice!

So a Big Farewell to Raj as he departed yesterday for Bangkok and onto other places in Thailand to continue his visit.  We had such a great time, and he was so much fun to travel with!  He loved seeing all the motorbikes, the high-speed rail, the churches, the clergy, the youth, the outreach programs.  He loved showing photos of his 3 ‘passions’: his garden, classic Enfield motorcycle and Leicester City FC.   Very modest, very charming and y’know what?  Very English. So so English.  Ha ha! Always so positive about everything (he never complained once!) and see, he was still smiling at the airport yesterday morning!

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Since Raj arrived last Wednesday, I’ve taken over 1,000 photos and Raj is in most of ’em, but he’s keen not to be the centre of attention ~ that place should be reserved for the wonderful people of Taiwan who opened their hearts to welcome us so warmly. Hospitality is Taiwan people’s gift to the world.

A very big THANK YOU to Bishop Lai and all our clergy, friends, church members and their families who welcomed us so warmly and generously, giving up so much of their time and energy to take us around and share about everything.  It was a truly wonderful week!

Thank you Raj for coming to visit ~ and do come again, it was certainly a week to remember!

And especially grateful thanks to Almighty God for his provision, blessing and safekeeping throughout!

Congratulations to Michael, Hany, the Lee family and all at St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi!

A very special day yesterday at the beautiful St. Peter’s Church for the wedding of a very lovely couple, Michael and Hany Lee!

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The newly-restored church looked stunning, and of course it was a real church family event ~ St. Peter’s excels at being a really close church family!  Michael’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lee are devoted members of St. Peter’s, his father is on the church committee, and his mother is chair of St. Peter’s ECW (Episcopal Church Women).  So together with Rev. Simon Tsou and all their friends in the church, they planned and organized all the wedding themselves, including doing all the flowers and most of the food and drinks.  A group of ladies were arranging flowers and cooking until after 11:00 pm on Friday night, and then up again early yesterday to cut up fruit and lay everything out, helped by the youth group, all dressed in yellow.  Even little Jonah was trying to help out, he was so excited to be a flower boy!

The Lee family also got together to sing in a choir for the occasion with flute accompaniment, and the church choir also sang. Bishop Lai and Mrs. Lily Lai, Mrs. Grace Chien, all of us had traveled from Taipei specially for the wedding.  Bishop Lai gave the final blessing.  Altogether about 85 guests, family members and church friends – but enough food for double that number!  Here we all are…

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A very lovely – and a very international – wedding!  Michael and his family immigrated from Taiwan to Brisbane, Australia when he was very young, and he continues to live there, but in more recent years his parents have returned home to Chiayi and joined St. Peter’s Church, having become Christians along the way.  Hany is from S. Korea and went to Brisbane to study, which is where she met Michael and where they will live.  So the bride and groom communicate in English, and Hany translates into Korean for her parents.  They’re also traveling with some Australian friends, so it’s quite a group!

So they had the formal wedding registration in Brisbane, then the big wedding in Korea last week, the big wedding in Taiwan this weekend, and when they return to Brisbane, they’ll have a big party to celebrate.   This has all taken over a month.  Oh yes and a few days honeymoon in Thailand on the way back to Brisbane.   Today they’re in Taipei showing their Korean family the sights and sounds of Taiwan’s capital city before they all leave tomorrow!

Michael’s family name is Lee. Hany’s family name is also Lee.  Me too.  One big happy Lee family from 3 different countries lol!

Such a wonderful day!  The church members were amazing, so hospitable, so welcoming and they have all devoted so much time and energy to making food and drinks, arranging flowers and getting everything ready.  Many of them were also attending the evening’s formal wedding banquet.  Sadly not us, we had to get back to Taipei.

Ah, St. Peter’s is such a great little church ~ and for Mrs. Grace Chien, who’s recently moved up to Advent Church from St. Peter’s Church, it was such a delight for her to be back at St. Peter’s and meet all her old friends.  Here we all are!

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Such a happy day for everyone ~ and especially many congratulations to Michael, Hany and both Lee families!

Advent Word Global Advent Calendar 2015!

Advent Word is a really great Global Advent Calendar project!  I love it!

It’s run by the Anglican Communion and the brothers of The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), based in Boston, USA.  The brothers write a daily meditation on an Advent theme – with a photo – which they post to social media, and we respond with an image of our own and the hashtag #AdventWord plus the hashtag for the appropriate theme for the day…. it works best on Instagram, and shared to Facebook, partly because the Instagram filters are so good, and make the photos look really special!

This project was launched last year in Advent 2014, and I loved it!  Now this year, the Diocese of Taiwan has been helping out a bit, and our good friend at St. James’ Church, Taichung, Jerry Liang has kindly translated all the daily meditations into Mandarin Chinese, and these are now posted on the Advent Word website each day along with other languages too ~ check it all out here!

My humble contributions so far (without the Instagram filters of course!), as follows:

Day 1: #Wake Up #覺醒 Advent Sunday, November 29

‘Look clearly and honestly at your life – and take action. Now. For now is the time to waken out of sleep. That is the watchman’s trumpet call – the clarion call of Advent. Now is the time for you – a choice to be made, a decision to be taken’.

應誠實看待自己的生命;把它看清楚,並且採取行動。現在就是你我應該覺醒的時候,那守護者的號角,降臨節的清澈喇叭聲,已經響起。就在這一刻,你(我)必須下定決心,做出抉擇。

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Above photo taken in the park opposite St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi last weekend!

Day 2: #Proclaim #宣告 Monday November 30

‘John boldly asserts that Christ—the very Word of God–is the light and life of all people. In our personal lives, seeing truth, speaking truth as best we can, is essential to the dawn of light and life’.

施洗約翰勇敢地宣告,基督是上帝的道,世人的生命之光。在你我一生中,誰能「眼見真理、口說真道」,那人就能點燃生命之光,好比破曉晨曦帶來光明一般.

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Above photo also taken in the park opposite St. Peter’s Church, Chiayi last weekend!

Day 3: #Give #給予 Tuesday December 1

‘What is your treasure, what is it you value most and feel you have to have to live? Maybe it is money, maybe it is time, maybe it is knowledge, maybe it is love that needs to be squandered on those who have none, who lack hope and need help. Are you being challenged at this time to give all that you have?’

你的財寶是什麼?什麼是你最看重,深感生活中不可或缺的東西?是金錢?時間?或是知識?愛心?也許應當將你某些最愛,分給那些兩手空空,希望渺茫,亟需幫助的人。此刻,你是否接受挑戰,將你所有,濟助他人?

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Mrs. Grace Chien 簡師母 lights the first Advent Candle at St.Peter’s Church, ‪Chiayi‬‬ on ‪Advent Sunday‬ 2015. She and Bishop John C.T. Chien 簡啟聰主教 [1940-2013] have given their whole lives in faithful Christian service. An amazing witness! ‪Thanks be to God‬!

Day 4: #Forgive #寬恕 Wednesday December 2

‘This is the promise of God: not that he will make life simpler but that God will save us, and salve us and heal us and forgive us from all that is broken and diseased in us’.

寬恕是神的應許,其意義,不在於簡化生命,讓生命變得異常容易;而是要我們真心領會,即使身陷全然破碎的困境,我們仍有上帝的拯救、醫治、和寬恕。

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God forgive us for our obsession with convenience and ‘instantness’, help us this ‪‎Advent‬ to patiently wait for your coming….

Day 5: #Repent #悔改 Thursday December 3

‘In Advent, we are called to more clearly engage the subject of God’s judgment; we are challenged to realize that we have sinned and are in need of God’s forgiveness. God’s judgment is his love and his truth. If we would hook into God’s love, we must walk through the door of repentance and forgiveness’.

降臨節期間,上帝呼召我們更清楚祂公義審判的課題;祂要我們理解,人犯了罪,需要祂的寬恕。上帝的審判,換言之,就是祂的愛和真理。若要真正抓住上帝的愛,我們必須穿過「悔改與寬恕」之門。

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Above photo was taken at the chapel at the diocesan office in Taipei ~ the wood carving was done by Bishop Lai himself!

Day 6: #Worship #崇拜 Friday December 4

‘In this season, we not only contemplate, but we worship the One who came, but who is still here. The One who is to come, but who is here already. Time present, time past, time future—three layers of time, bound magically together, bound so deliciously together in the vision of Christ’.

這段期間,我們除了努力思索,更要用心崇拜,那「早已來臨,當下猶在;既已臨在,還會再來」的主。時光的三個層面—-現在、過去、未來,在基督的異象中,神奇地綁在一塊兒,美妙地結合在一起。

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Above photo taken at St. John’s University Library on our Advent Walkabout on Tuesday!

Do join up and take part if you can – it’s very meaningful and of course great fun!

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!