From the Pastor's Desk..
Then the man said, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed." Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." Genesis 32:28-30)
As we welcome 2018, we again make new resolu- tions and map out our faith journey for the up- coming year. In so doing, I hope that our starting point is Scripture and prayer. This month, I turn our attention to the story of Iacob who got his new name, Israel, after wrestling with God. This is not only a story of Iacob's personal wrestling match but primarily of God's grace towards humanity at large. Jacob experienced Peniel to see God's face when he wrestled with God. Jacob's extraordinary experience was not passively earned, but gained through a desperate wrestling with God, which he won at the cost of injury which left him limping. St. Paul says that he carried the marks of Iesus branded on his body (Galatians 6:17). Paul experienced the grace of Christ through an enormous sacrifice and service. God blessed Abraham to be the father of faith after seeing the ultimate act of obedience and trust involving a near-sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham's own son, at the altar.
In fact, as for Jacob, the fork of Jabbok was the fork from the shadowy tribulations of the past to the bright tomorrows. A new world was deployed before him after crossing the fork of [abbok, The sun rose upon him as he passed Peniel, limping due to his hip injury. (Genesis 32:31) Jacob was pleased with the experience of seeing the face of God along with his new name, Israel (the one who strives with God).
As we face the many promises and challenges of this new year, I encourage each of us to turn to the mirror presented by the Scripture and ask: can we be as desperate as Jacob, who refused to let God go until God blessed him? (Genesis 32:26)
A large fire broke out in the middle of the night in Brackenthwaite, a small town in England. One wooden building was engulfed in flames, and a little child cried out for help from the 2nd floor. One brave man climbed up the iron pipe and rescued the child, but his hands were badly burned. The child's grandmother, who had reared the child alone, unfortunately did not survive the fire. Two candidates wanting to adopt the child appeared before the judge. One man claimed eligibility based on his wealth and socioeconomic capability, while the other man quietly showed his scarred hands to the judge - the same set of hands that had rescued the child from burning building. The second man was not affluent, and did not have the financial prowess of the first, but was nonetheless granted the custody.
Jacob became Israel after crossing the fork of Jabbok,
It is my prayer that this new year can be the fork of Jabbok for each of our church family, and that we can all pass Peniel like Israel under the rising sun.
In Christ's love,
Pastor Dai Hoon