Saturday, May 19, 2012

Had to go... take charge here!

John 17:6-19
17:6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;
17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.
17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.
17:12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.
17:13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.
17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.
17:16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Today’s Gospel reading is about Jesus praying to God to protect us from the evils of the world. Jesus is about to go back to the Father and he is making sure that when he leaves this world that his followers will be guided on how to carry on the work. It is just like how we work here in our department here in the hospital. Our chairperson has other stuff to attend to and we know that she can’t be with us all the time. But before she leaves the office in the morning, she instructs those who will be left on what to do the rest of the day and the following days that she won’t be around. Our chairperson makes sure that the activities and services offered by the department will continue smoothly despite her absence. Our chairperson knows that problems may arise in the course of our work and so she prays that we will have the wisdom and courage to overcome them. Just like how Jesus prayed to the Father to ask for protection from evil. We must continue to do our work and not be delayed by problems and challenges we face. Us residents are given different tasks to make sure that the work must go on.
As Christian doctors, we are also given by our Head Doctor (that is Jesus) what we need to do to continue his ministry during his “absence.” The first thing that Jesus asks the Father in heaven is to protect us from potential evils that we will encounter that may delay or prevent us from doing our work. What challenges do we face in our workplace that sometimes pushes us to quit and not do our job? What evils have made us stumble in our responsibilities as Christian witnesses? What evils have made us neglect our duty to become the extension of God’s healing ministry?   
  When Jesus called us to be his instrument of healing, he had a tasked us to do his work. Just as Jesus had given work to the disciples when he went back to heaven, we are also given work to accomplish. What are the task that Christian doctors must continue to do? As Christian doctors, what concrete ways can we witness to our faith?
As we continue to celebrate Eastertide, let us not forget that the resurrection of Jesus does not end in his victory over death. Christ victory means our victory. It is the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise.  The return of Jesus to the Father also highlights to us the task that has been commissioned to us. Just as the Father has sent Jesus, so are we being sent to continue the work of God. Just like what our Chair reminds us as she leaves, I hear Jesus saying, "had to go... take charge here!"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tell me about your friend

Tell me about your friend

The Gospel text this week is from John 15: 9-17. It is the story about Jesus calling his followers as his friends. He gives a distinction about how they used to be slaves who do not know about what is in the mind of their master to becoming friends of Jesus who knows his plans. I want to highlight here the shift of the followers from slaves to friends. They are the same people. The followers did nothing in themselves to warrant them to be called friends of Jesus. These followers did not win the lottery or became richer. They did not get promoted or had top level jobs. They are of the same stature from how Jesus knew them until that moment. Yet, Jesus recognized a change of his relationship with them. They were no longer slaves but now his friends. The shift could mean many things but obviously it means as slaves, they belonged to a lower relational level with Jesus but now elevated to a higher relational level of being Jesus’ friends.
It is an interesting thing to ask the reason for the shift in the relationship. Looking closely at verse 16, Jesus said that he chose and appointed his followers to be his friends. It was not from their own doing. In his commentary, Barnes said that Jesus calling his followers as friends “refers here, doubtless, to his choosing or electing them to be apostles. He says that it was not because they had chosen him to be their teacher and guide, but because he had designated them to be his apostles.”
I am interrupted by a thought from a fellow co-worker, “so what does this mean to us?”
It is often the most difficult part. As pastor and friend of Jesus, I am expected to offer some insights to my colleagues how does the Gospel speak to us today.
I was thinking this. As Christian workers in the hospital, we are the followers of Jesus. Jesus called us to be his friends not out of our own reasons or doing. We are his friends because Jesus chose us to be his friends. Not because we are doctors. Not because we have helped many sick people. Not because of our good deeds. Nothing from our own merit is the reason. It is simply because of Jesus.
Now I realized, I do not have to be the one always sharing reflections on the Bible. We are all friend of Jesus and you all also have the same mind of Christ. So, FRIENDS, tell me… what does the text mean for us today?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

BV (Branch of the Vine)

This weeks Gospel lesson is from the Gospel According to John 15:1-8.
15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.
15:2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
15:3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
15:4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Becoming a better Christian in the workplace has many unique challenges especially in the hospital. One of the common scenes we find in our job as doctors is the trust and appreciation our patients, especially when they get cured from their illnesses, give to the word MD (Medical Doctor). Don’t get me wrong, it is not wrong to trust and appreciate the doctors, in fact trust is important and the appreciation doctors receive is also appreciated. But what become problematic are the overflowing trust and the never ending appreciation that encourages doctors to begin looking at themselves highly for having an MD attached to their name. For oftentimes, an MD seems to give doctors license to glorify themselves.
Doctors are supposed to improve the health of people, cure the sick and heal those hurting. This is the task that the general population expect us to do. Of course, as MD we will do that. But for us Christian doctors, we know that we are mere instruments of God’s healing ministry. It is the touch of God that heals the brokenness of the human body. It is the One True God of Medicine who is the Ultimate Physician where we only take part. We doctors should not glorify ourselves for having an MD because we know we are just BV (Branches of the Vine). It is only through the vine where we the branches can bear fruit.
As Christian Doctors, we are reminded that our task (healing) in the workplace is to be part of the healing ministry of Jesus – to be the branch of the vine (BV). The overrated recognition of the doctors’ superb knowledge and skills in treating patient neglects the fact that the doctors’ gift is possible only because of God. The Christian Doctor knows that the good fruit of healing the sick comes only from being a branch connected to the vine who is Jesus Christ. The recognition the doctor receive should be given back to the source of the gift. Glory must not be to us doctors but we should tell our patients and their family to bring back all the glory and praise to God. For it is only being connected to the vine of Jesus that we doctors, the branches, can bear good fruits. The text reminds us as we bear witness of our faith in the workplace, that an MD does not give us reason to glorify ourselves rather it is our witness that we are a BV.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What I think as the General Conference 2012 ends

As the General Conference 2012 concludes today, many people will have mixed feelings. Some will reflect on what happened and some will be disappointed. Others will be hopeful for the 2016. There will be different responses about the GenCon that has been and the GenCon that will come in the next four years. But for me, my concern will be the safe trip of my family. My prayer is that my sick mother will have the strength to travel halfway across the globe with a failing kidney. That my now-retired father will still have enough physical, mental, spiritual and most especially emotional strength to face the several scheduled Annual Conference after the very tiring General Conference. And that my sister will be able to bear with the two. God bless us all.