Focussed on a Great Homecoming | Bishop Writes

Focussed on a Great Homecoming | Bishop Writes

ABOUT THE BISHOP

Bishop Rennis Ponniah Photo
Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah is the 9th Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore. He is married to Amir Ponniah and blessed with four children.

ARCHIVES

6 July 2018

Focussed on a Great Homecoming

By Bishop Rennis Ponniah
Photo
Filmstrip graphic designed by kstudio / Freepik; Cross photo by Kimber Shaw / Flickr; The Return of the Prodigal Son oil painting by Rembrandt
Photo

When I still my soul and close my eyes in unhurried prayer, the Lord is often pleased to give me intimations of what is on His heart. Over the last year or so, God has placed on my heart and on the hearts of several pastors in our Diocese and in the city, that He is visiting our land with grace and mercy. A vital expression of this is that God will bring an amazing number of people to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Correspondingly, we are preparing for an amazing harvest in all the seven countries of our Diocese. In Singapore, this will take the shape of the Celebration of Hope rallies at the National Stadium from 17-19 May 2019. At the May 2018 Synod, we are exactly one year away from this climactic harvest event.

It is time to be singularly focussed on ‘A Great Homecoming’.

For that is what salvation in Christ Jesus means. Through Jesus, sinners come home to God and are set free to live new lives as His children. What tremendous hope and joy this is for a dry and darkened and restless world! God has purposed that multitudes, from all sectors of society, will come home to Him and experience the new life that begins here and now, and continues past the gates of death into all eternity!

 

THE SEASON WE ARE IN

There is good news to be shared with everyone. Are you ready to be messengers with ‘beautiful feet and burning lips of love’ to go and tell others that God’s wonderful salvation has come in Christ Jesus? The time has come for us to do so with courage, joy and winsomeness. Here is how Scripture pictures God’s people when God visits a land with salvation in His wings:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes salvation.
Isaiah 52: 7

Is this wishful thinking or a vision to be embraced with faith? Is it possible that in the midst of increasing strife and flux on the one hand, and moral darkness, ethnocentrism and hardened secularism on the other, that God is preparing a mighty harvest? I believe it is, because with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 37; Jeremiah 32:17). In the midst of the engulfing darkness, God in His great love for the world and in order to show forth His glory, has prepared a day of salvation – a time of radiant, magnetic light – in many nations. This glorious light will surely shine upon those nations where God’s people are turned towards Him in repentance, faith and love. A nation will be drawn to the light of God’s glory shining through His revived people in that land (cf. Isaiah 60:1-3).

Therefore, let us be focussed in our churches and ministry points all across our Diocese on a great homecoming of many lives to God through Jesus Christ. I will share how we can do so at the May 2018 Synod and pass on the message to you.

 

THE CHURCH WE ARE TO BE

This focus on a great homecoming is much more than planning for an event. The focus on an amazing harvest that God has purposed for us is a catalyst or a means by which God is transforming our churches. And so, for example, the coming Celebration of Hope rallies cause us to get our churches in shape to be a receptacle and an instrument for God to use to bring new lives to Jesus and also to disciple them to live for Jesus.

This has caused me to ask: What kind of churches is God raising up, not only for this unique time of massive homecoming, but for long-term fruitfulness for His glory? Let me suggest the following seven characteristics for all our churches in our Diocese to aim for:

  1. Depth in Word, Worship and Discipleship
  2. Power through fervent prayer
  3. Oneness and engagement of the Body
  4. Vibrancy in evangelism and outreach
  5. Active participation in Deanery missions and world evangelisation
  6. Compassionate care for the poor and persons with special needs
  7. ‘Blessed to be a blessing’ mindset

That is my particular dream and calling: to build Spirit-filled communities of disciples (with the characteristics above) who will reach a world in need of Christ with the radiant love of God. The season of a great homecoming is an impetus for me, and I pray for every clergy and lay leader in the Diocese, to passionately and perseveringly build such a church for God.

 

We must depend on Christ alone and not look to any man or to ourselves to accomplish a great homecoming.

 

THE ONE WE DEPEND ON

It is easy to get carried away with the anticipation of a great homecoming and fall into one of two equal and opposite errors. One is to think that since God has promised it, it will happen with or without my participation. The truth rather is that God wants to work with and through you to accomplish it.

The opposite error is to think that since God has announced it, we are the ones to make it happen. The truth is that we cannot, apart from God. In one instance recorded in Holy Scripture, God tells a leader overwhelmed by the scale of the task before him: “Not by power, nor my might but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

In this vision of a re-built and revived Jerusalem, that is symbolised by a brightly-lit golden lampstand, attention is drawn to the two olive trees beside the lampstand which mysteriously supply oil for the light. In context, the two trees represent Zerubbabel, the Governor (or kingly ruler) and Joshua the High Priest - both leaders of God’s people (Zechariah 4:12-14). The two olive trees in this vision can be taken to point ahead to Jesus the Priestly King (Psalm 110:4) who supplies the nourishing life of the Holy Spirit that strengthens and makes God’s people faithful (cf. John 15:1-8).

The reality of a great homecoming cannot happen without the divine power of Jesus Christ. And the ‘oil’ He supplies is not a sudden surge from time to time but a continuous flow. We who are called to work for this amazing harvest – this great homecoming – need a supernatural empowering and a continuous supply of the Holy Spirit for the tasks at hand. Only the Lord Jesus can supply what is needed.

That is why the first and foremost step in preparing for a great homecoming is fervent and concerted prayer. It is through prayer that the people in the respective nations of our Diocese will turn God-ward. It is through prayer that Christians will become hungry for God’s glory and for souls to come to Christ. It is through prayer that the workers in the harvest field, like you and me, will be emboldened to share the Gospel at every opportunity and have the energy of love to minister to people’s needs. Hence for the Celebration of Hope, the Year of Proclamation (2019) is preceded by the Year of Prayer (2018)!

So I look forward to being with you, my God-given people, in the Celebration of Hope regional solemn assemblies of prayer as well as to joining a prayer band to intercede for the power of Jesus to bring about a great homecoming. Only the Lord can do it. And He will do it as we pray. We must therefore depend on Christ alone and not look to any man or to ourselves to accomplish a great homecoming.

A vast multitude of people from all walks of life will return to God through Christ. I believe this new wave of converts will be so captivated by Christ that they don’t become consumers of blessings but willing troops to be discipled and sent out as missionaries to the mission fields of the world. A bumper harvest!

My heartbeat is on a different tempo, sustained by Christ’s Spirit. My eyes are lifted up to God in prayer and brokenness. My lips are burning with the good news of Jesus to share. A unique season is dawning upon our Diocese. We are desperate for a great homecoming!

“Keep us focussed, O God, on Your great purpose of bringing many lives home to Yourself. May we see the brightness of a spiritual awakening in our respective lands. Lord, pour out Your Spirit. To Your praise and glory. Amen” 


(Thousands responded to the Gospel message at the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade in 1978)

*Temple Menorah Artwork by Mariano Shulman, 2001, Argentina Menorah Mosaic, Kehillat Israel, Pacific Palisades, CA, Photo: Joy Krauthammer


This message is included in the May 2018 issue of the Diocesan Digest.


About the Bishop

Bishop Rennis Ponniah Photo
Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah is the 9th Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore. He is married to Amir Ponniah and blessed with four children.

Recent Bishop Writes

6 July Focussed on a Great Homecoming
28 May Let the River Flow
26 September Welcome Message

ARCHIVES