Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Acts 6:1-7:2a, 14-60 April 18, 2021 TLC  

    We Push Back; God’s Spirit is on the move

    使徒行传6:1-7:2a14-60 2021418日TLC


    One of the gifts of the pandemic, if we don’t consume every waking hour with social media and streaming videos, and allow ourselves some silence, is the chance to reflect.  With daily testimony at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin this week aired on Global News and the grief of Daunte Wright’s mother, racial injustice is blaring a horn into our waking moments. With yet another senseless death of Daunte Wright, at the hand of Minneapolis police, we wonder what it will take to bring change to unjust systems across North America. Certainly, deploying the National Guard on crowds desperate for change is not the long-term solution. How might the church universal be called to help bring about societal change, including our little church along the banks of the Fraser River in North Delta?


    如果我们不把每一个小时都花在社交媒体和流媒体视频上,让自己保持沉默,这场流行病的礼物之一就是反思的机会。随着本周《Global News》播出了前明尼阿波利斯警官德里克乔文(Derek Chauvin)受审的每日证词,以及Daunte Wright母亲的悲痛,种族的不公正在向我们清醒的时刻吹响号角。Daunte Wright又一次在明尼阿波利斯警方的手上被无谓地杀害,我们想知道怎样才能改变整个北美不公正的制度。当然,在渴望变革的人群中部署国民警卫队并不是长久之计。世界教会如何被召唤来帮助带来社会的变革,包括我们在North Delta弗雷泽河畔的小教会?


    As a parent, have you ever asked your child to do something, and they say ‘NO!’ As a spouse, has your partner ever refused to follow your lead? As an employee, have you ever publicly questioned the boss’s direction? As human beings, we are geared to push back when something doesn’t seem right, or when we don’t want to get in line. Sometimes this push back is due to laziness or stubbornness. Often it is because we are afraid of change. But sometimes it is the most important thing we will ever do. Over the past year of pandemic, we’ve all been pushed into changing our behaviour. Some are still pushing back; as the anti-masking looters did in Montreal, destroying storefronts and restaurants. But many of us have agreed that protecting our neighbours, family and ourselves is important, to the best of our ability. Those who wear masks may never fully understand those who refuse to. But we are still called to treat all as neighbours, even those who refuse to do the same.




    In today’s scripture from the Acts of the Apostles, we learn how God’s beloved people push back as they have done for generations, push back against God’s dreams for the human family, push back against Stephen. The people resist but the Holy One never gives up on us, keeps moving out for the sake of love, inviting us to join.




    Acts is the sequel or ‘part two’, the rest of the story, of Luke’s gospel. The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written by the same person; the writer whose identity is unclear, continues to tell the story…what happened after the empty tomb? Acts of the Apostles answers that question for the first century. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to Theophilus, a name that means “friend of God.” Some scholars think this name is generally referring to everyone who follows Christ. Others say Theophilus was a wealthy person, perhaps a Roman official who paid for the recording and copying of Luke and Acts. Either way, the book of Acts is intended for many people to hear. Likely the first readers of Acts were Gentiles and Jews living on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Acts traces the growth of the church from a small group of Jewish followers of Christ in Jerusalem to a worldwide movement that includes Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles). It was written likely around 80-85 C.E. just as the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem for the last time.




    Stephen is one of the immigrant Greek speaking Gentiles who has become a Christ follower, joining the local Aramaic speaking Hebrew church. Aramaic is the language that Jesus spoke, so naturally many of the first Christ followers spoke Aramaic.  Curiously enough, we meet Stephen because he is part of the way the early church repairs a wrong done to some of the immigrant widows.  One of the first conflicts in the church has erupted not over theology or money, but of all things, over meals in the kitchen! The leaders of the church get wind of a complaint about how the meals are delivered once they leave the kitchen. The immigrant Greek speaking Gentiles are saying that their widows are being neglected in the daily meal delivery. When they bring it to the attention of the 12 disciples, the core leadership team of the early church, it is easily settled.



    The disciples choose seven men from the immigrant Greek speakers to become deacons, which means they serve the practical needs of the community such as cooking and delivering food to the widows. Stephen is one of these chosen as a deacon, serving the community beyond the walls of the church. As Stephen moves out of the kitchen and into the community, he performs signs and wonders, starts preaching about how things are changing. Tension grows through his words, and a group of people begin to conspire against him. Stephen was accusing the Jews of crucifying Jesus; his words recorded in Acts have been used down through the centuries to fuel anti-Jewish movements, including the Holocaust. It is important that we interpret Stephen’s accusations as historically incorrect. Roman soldiers, not first century Jews, crucified Jesus. Stephen’s way of speaking fuelled violence; resulting in his death by stoning from the enraged crowd. In many ways, his unjust death is mirrored in our news today.




    As we listen to testimony from both the prosecution and defense in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and media interviews of his brothers, I don’t’ know about you but I’ve been riveted by, yet another murder of an unarmed Black young man named Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb a few miles from where my family lived when I was in elementary school. Crowds taking to the streets in just, peaceful protest turned violent, and were met with armed National Guard troops. Seeing such violence, hearing Daunte’s mother and father speak about his murder, echoes how Stephen took a knee when the crowd came towards him with stones. Somehow Stephen cried out, as Jesus did from the cross, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” As Daunte’s parents name the senseless injustice of their son’s death, calling for change, does this not bring us to our knees, confessing the sin of racism. As Christ followers, we are called to be part of the change that leads to an end to police violence; societal change that no longer privileges lighter skin over all others.



    当我们听到控方和辩方对前明尼阿波利斯警官德里克乔文(Derek Chauvin)的证词,以及媒体对他的兄弟们的采访时,我不知道你们是怎么想的,但我被另一起谋杀案吸引住了,这起谋杀案是一名手无寸铁的黑人年轻人,名叫道特赖特(Daunte Wright),发生在布鲁克林中心,距离明尼阿波利斯郊区几英里就是我上小学时家里住的地方。民众走上街头,进行公正、和平的抗议,演变成暴力,并遭到武装国民警卫队的袭击。看到这样的暴力,听到达恩特的母亲和父亲谈论他的谋杀案,与斯蒂芬在人群拿着石头向他走来时屈膝相呼应。不知何故,斯蒂芬像耶稣在十字架上所做的那样,大声喊道:“主啊,不要把这罪加在他们身上。”正如达乌特的父母所说,他们儿子死后的毫无意义的不公正,呼吁改变,难道这不会让我们跪下,承认种族主义的罪恶吗。作为基督的追随者,我们被呼召成为变革的一部分,这将导致警察暴力的终结;社会变革不再优先于所有浅肤色的人。


    How is the church called to be part of the change; our white steepled church on the banks of the Fraser River stands empty these days. The building is empty, but the church is each of you, God’s own beloved people, filling the community: out there, in your homes, at the grocery store, on the sidewalk, at your workplace, wearing masks, getting vaccinated week by week.




    Before he is stoned, Stephen speaks about how God’s people have pushed back against God’s Spirit, revealed first to Abraham and Sarah, who pushed back by laughing at the divine promise to provide a son and descendants who would bless all families on the earth. Abraham and Sarah laughed at God’s promise; doubting it could happen. And through Moses, great grandson of Abraham, God led God’s people out of generations of slavery in Egypt, traveling with them in the tent of testimony through the wilderness. God provided manna, enough for the people to survive, but they pushed back and hoarded it, so that it would rot. Down through David, who wanted to build a dwelling place for God; his son Solomon building the Temple, a house for God. “Yet,” Stephen says, “the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet Isaiah says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’




    Following Christ is not about our building on River Road, as we’ve come to realize during this pandemic. Church is about people walking together in Christ, a network of relationships with one another and the earth, walking the way that leads to generosity extended even towards one’s enemies, the way that leads to deep regard for every human being regardless of the colour of their skin or whom they choose to love.


    跟随基督并不是我们在River Road上的建筑,正如我们在这次大流行中所认识到的那样。教会是关于人们在基督里一起行走,一个于彼此和于地球关系的网络,走一条通向慷慨的道路,甚至延伸到你的敌人,这条道路导致对每个人的深切关怀,无论他们的肤色或他们选择去爱谁。


    Stephen was talking about a change in how people meet God. The Temple built by Solomon and rebuilt by Babylonian King Nebukadnezzar, had been destroyed by the Romans by 85 C.E when the book of Acts was written. So, everything had changed. Through Christ dying and rising, God now goes everywhere with us, with the anti-maskers, with the parents of Daunte Wright, with the family and jury of George Floyd, with the hundreds of parents whose children have been killed at hands of police, and the tens of thousands who live in fear that the same will happen to their children. As Christ followers, we are called to push back against deeply engrained systemic racism in our culture; this could start with grieving alongside Daunte’s mother.




    Here at TLC many of you have become deacons, tending to the practical needs of the church, cooking in your kitchen and delivering meals to any who have need. As I stopped by Liz’s home this week, to pick up some of her meals and deliver them, she mentioned she is reading CNN anchor Don Lemon’s newly released book, this is the Fire: What I say to my Friends About Racism, by. Her daughter Miriam bought it for Liz’s birthday. Liz intends to loan it to whomever would be willing to read it. Liz says she is learning the story of the Black community for the first time through Don’s stories; it is changing her heart and mind. God’s Spirit is on the move through Liz and invites us to join her. Following Christ is not about our building; it’s about listening to one another’s stories and discovering where we might be called.


    TLC,你们中许多人已经成为执事,照顾教会的实际需要,在厨房做饭,给任何有需要的人送饭。本周,当我路过丽兹的家时,去拿她的饭菜并送过去时,她提到她正在读CNN主播唐莱蒙(Don Lemon)最新出版的书《这就是火:我对朋友们关于种族主义说的话》。她的女儿米里亚姆在丽兹生日时买的。利兹经常把它借给任何愿意读它的人。利兹说,她是第一次通过Don的故事学习黑人社区的故事;这改变了她的心意。神的灵藉着利兹在移动,邀请我们一起加入她。跟随基督并不是建造我们的房屋,而是聆听彼此的故事,发现我们在哪里可能被呼召。


    As you take time to reflect these days, would you consider using a resource to guide your reflection, generously created and shared by Pastor Kimber from Halifax Lutheran Church. This reflection guide will help the council and myself to listen to your story, listen for the Spirit’s lead, and move into the Easter season, trusting Christ will raise us all up to new life. It’s posted in our newsletter.




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