Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Matthew 20:1-16, Jonah 3:10-4:11,

    Sept 24, 2023 TLC

    Economics of Discipleship


    马太福音 20:1-16, 约拿书 3:10-4:11



    Driving home recently, my daughter Eva said, “You know what, Mom….some grandmother of a NWSS student gave her granddaughter $20,000 on her 16th birthday, so that she could buy a car. And she couldn’t even drive yet! The granddaughter did nothing to earn this gift; perhaps it’s more than she deserved. But this gal is no slouch; she wisely invested it for a year, and it earned interest, so she by the time she bought a car, she could still keep some invested. “Huhhhh! It’s not fair!” Eva says. I bet that a lot of teens who are learning to drive are envious because that grandmother was so generous. I’ve become a middle-aged parent because my response was something like: “Money won’t make you happy. You are rich in love. That is what matters (picture the eye roll (;” And then… “My dear, I rode my bike to get to my first job in high school: 7am prep cook at Pizza Hut several miles from home. That same bike, I brought to university and rode to all my jobs during university. I was probably the last among my college graduate friends to get a car, bumming rides from friends, walking or biking, until I had saved enough money from working fulltime at a publishing company. The last will be first and the first will be last.” Another, “Huhhhh…with an eye roll.”





    In Matthew’s gospel just before today’s reading begins, Peter says to Jesus, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?” Jesus responds to Peter by telling a story that is a church treasurer’s nightmare…am I right, Lucy?




    After hiring all of these laborers at various times of day, the landowner starts to go crazy…

    they throw out the budget, abandon any prudent business sense, and start giving paychecks to people who laid around all day and barely lifted a finger. Those laborers didn’t earn that paycheck; they end up getting WAY MORE than they deserve. I mean, it’s ridiculous and irresponsible…those who only worked a couple hours are paid the same amount as those who put in a full day’s work.




    Maybe the landowner is just trying to stir up trouble. Those who started working before dawn see what’s happening and start to complain: “Hey, That’s not fair!” The manager says “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. We agreed on your day’s wage, didn’t we? So, take it and go. I choose to give to this last the same as I gave to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Can’t I do what I want with my money? Or are you envious because I am generous? It’s the Great Reversal; the last will be first and the first will be last.”




    Last month, the council voted to invite one of you to share a faith story one Sunday a month; this allows us to grow in faith together and gives me a chance to coach and encourage each person as they discover connections between their life and God’s mending of the world. Our first storyteller is Kenneth Kwan.  As you know, Kenneth stepped up in January to assist Brenda with worship leadership. But did you know that he prepared by studying the last YouTube video in which I had led worship, then told Brenda he thought he could help. Kenneth has the spiritual gift of service in spades, where he first notices the gaps around him. He believes in stepping up to fill in those gaps. For many years, working with young cadets, being involved in Toast Masters and caring for his dearly departed life partner, Sylvia, of whom he says: “We were a team…if one fell, the other came along to pick them up. Without her, I’m learning to figure things out as I go along.”


    上个月,教会议会投票决定每月邀请其中一位分享信仰故事的人,这让我们能一起在信仰中成长,并给我一个机会来指导和鼓励每个人,在他们的生活与上帝对世界的医治之间发现联系。我们的第一个讲述者是肯尼斯关。正如你所知,肯尼斯在一月份 stepped起来协助布伦达领导崇拜。但你知道吗,他通过研究我领导崇拜的最后一个YouTube视频来做好了准备,然后告诉布伦达他认为自己可以帮助。肯尼斯在服务方面有着非凡的属灵恩赐,他首先注意到周围的空缺。他相信要站出来填补这些空缺。多年来,他一直与年轻的学员合作,参与了演讲大师和照顾他亲爱的已故生命伴侣席尔维亚,他说:“我们是一个团队...如果一个人跌倒了,另一个人就会过来帮助他们站起来。没有她,我正在学着边走边想办法。”


    In some ways, Kenneth was one of  the last regular worship guests to start worshipping at TLC and he was one of the first to step up and help when I was injured. The last shall be first…But he seemed to come out of nowhere. How did Kenneth end up here anyway?





    Kenneth’s Faith Story:



    A few weeks ago Pastor Jennifer asked me to share with you “What lead me to this church.”



    So that day while riding on the bus, my mind was thinking “What lead me to this church”, “What lead me to this church.”



    Then I got an Aaaaahhhhh moment (#1 – Light bulb slide). Transit.

    然后我有了一个“啊哈”的时刻(#1 灯泡亮了的幻灯片)。公交。


    Transit lead me to this church.



    I take a trolley bus (#2 – Trolley bus slide) then skytrain (#3 – Skytrain slide) to Scott Road station follow by another bus (#4 – Diesel bus slide) which drops me off at the front of the church.

    我搭乘有轨电车(#2 有轨电车的幻灯片),然后搭乘天空列车(#3 天空列车的幻灯片),再搭乘另一辆巴士(#4 柴油巴士的幻灯片),将我送到教堂前面。


    This is part of my story.



    Some of you have heard me mention the name Sylvia but have never seen her before. You may be asking does she really exist or is he just making this up.



    Let me show you a picture (#5 – Military Dinner). In this picture on my right is a red hair lady in a red shawl. This was my Sylvia.

    让我给你们看一张照片(#5 军事晚宴)。在这张照片上,我右边是一个戴红披肩的红发女士。这就是我的西尔维亚。


    How did we meet?



    Let me take you back in time.



    The year was 1998, I was a junior officer at the Navy League Cadet Corps located at the Naval Reserve Base in Stanley Park.



    I was the Commanding Officer at that time.



    One Friday evening of Sept 1998 I was down at the base doing paperwork.



    When I was finish with the paperwork and was returning the keys to the gate house I hear a voice calling out “Excuse me, sir!!”, “excuse me, sir!!”, “excuse me, sir!!”.



    I did not pay much attention as I thought she was calling to someone else.



    After I dropped off the keys and went back to my car I still hear “Excuse me, sir!!”, “excuse me, sir!!”, “excuse me, sir!!”.



    By this time my curiosity got to me. I looked around did not see any other person, so I asked her “Are you talking to me?”.



    She replied “Are you leaving the park, can I get a ride with you?”.



    As we were leaving the park, I asked her where she was going.



    She asked me to drop her off at Main St skytrain station, which was not a good place to be at night.

    她要求我把她送到Main St天空列车站,那里晚上不是个好地方。


    I dropped her off at the Nanaimo station.



    That evening Sylvia along with other navy reservists were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Naval Reserve (#6 – Sylvia in uniform slide).

    那天晚上,西尔维亚和其他海军后备一起庆祝海军后备的75周年(#6 西尔维亚穿制服的幻灯片)。


    Our path crossed a few times at the base and I got her phone number.



    One late afternoon we met for coffee after work and that was how our friendship began.



    To make a long story short, our friendship evolved and we became supper buddy.



    Sylvia used to enjoy going to the flea market in Surrey.



    There she met Connie who is a member of TLC.



    Connie told her about this church.



    Sylvia being a former army person, made a recce (reconnaissance) on her own to find this church.



    That day when she came back home, she told me it is white church located near the river. She was head over heels about finding this church.



    In Dec 2017 we came to this church to meet Pastor Jennifer the Sunday after Christmas.



    This was our first trip to the church taking the bus. While on the bus Sylvia was telling me the route the bus would take.


    She would say “the bus will go up a slight incline then a bend and then another incline and another bend. When you see the church is where we get off the bus.”



    We watch as the bus move along the route, then Sylvia see the church and she got excited saying “ring the bell, ring the bell.”



    We did not know Pastor Jennifer was away that day.



    We stay for the service.



    After service we had coffee, snacks, and talked to people.



    As we were waiting for the bus, Sylvia said “Did you notice how friendly the people are and they have coffee!!”.



    We came back to the church a few times but our path with Pastor Jennifer did not cross.



    Then one day Sylvia got to meet and talk with Pastor Jennifer.



    She came home with a big smile on her face and said “guess what, I got to meet Pastor Jennifer and we talked. She is a wonderful lady. You need to meet her.”



    My chance did not come. Instead, I caught Covid-19 and did not even know.



    Going to a medical clinic was how I learn about my symptom. Sylvia came with me.



    I got to go on an ambulance ride to a hospital. At the same time, I scare the heck out of Sylvia cause she did not know what was happening and I did not have much time to explain to her. The paramedics wanted to get me to the hospital as soon as possible.



    We said our goodbyes, told her I will be okay and will be home soon.



    During my stay at the hospital is when I learn how sick I was. The doctors perform an x-ray of my chest and told me I lost 1/4 of my upper lung tissue in each lung from the Covid virus.



    The doctors told me that I needed to be on a ventilator. They would put a tube down my windpipe and I fear I may try to yank it out while I am conscious.



    Told the doctors I will agree to the ventilator if they will sedate me during my time on the ventilator.



    In the end we made an agreement. The doctors was able to put a ventilator down my lungs and I had a great sleep from sedation.



    While at the hospital, Sylvia was scare that I may die.



    During my hospital stay, I did not know that Sylvia asked Pastor Jennifer and everyone at the

    congregation to pray for me. I learn about this when I came back home.



    I am grateful and thankful to each and everyone.



    Now we move forward in time to the year 2022.



    In early Feb 2022, I came home to find Sylvia fallen at home.



    Paramedics came and took her to VGH.



    Every day after work I went to see her, assisted her with feeding and any other needs (#7 – Sylvia at VGH slide).

    每天下班后,我都去看望她,帮助她喂食和满足其他需要(#7 VGH的西尔维亚幻灯片)。


    Doctors diagnosed her with brain cancer. After consulting with the doctors she made the decision to let the cancer take its course.



    In March 2022, Sylvia was moved to a hospice.



    One evening when I went to see Sylvia after work, there was Pastor Jennifer visiting my Sylvia. This was my first time meeting Pastor Jennifer in person.



    On May 13,2022 Sylvia became an angel (#8 – Angel slide).

    2022513日,西尔维亚成为了一位天使(#8 天使幻灯片)。


    I contacted Pastor Jennifer with Sylvia’s outcome and we made arrangements.



    On July 30,2022 I said my final good bye. With the help from Pastor Jennifer we held a Celebration of Life for Sylvia (#9 – Celebration of Life – 3 slides) at Trinity Lutheran Church.

    2022730日,我告别了西尔维亚。在詹妮弗牧师的帮助下,我们在三一路德教堂举行了西尔维亚的生命庆典(#9 生命庆典 3张幻灯片)。


    To this day I still struggle with my lost.



    After the service Pastor Jennifer invited me to come for Sunday service.



    In October 2022, I started to come to TLC thinking I will sit in the back row and listen and learn.



    However, I now think God had other plans for me.



    It started with helping out with communion.



    Then when I learn that Pastor Jennifer was injured and seeing Brenda leading a few Sunday service by herself, I decided to step up to the plate.



    These are the events that lead me to this church, along with the transit ride.




    We wouldn’t have met Kenneth if Sylvia hadn’t randomly called the church a few days before Christmas in 2017. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about meeting Sylvia for the first time. It felt risky, a bit like I was being set-up for a scam. Picture this:  a pastor a bit worried about a possible church deficit a few days before Christmas in 2017 and this woman calls and offers to give money to the church…a total stranger asking me to meet her in person at the food court at Central City Mall…I chatted with her a bit on the phone, trying to get a read on her motives. In the end, decided to go meet her. Told Jenn my office admin. where I was going and what I was doing, just so that someone knew my whereabouts if the police need to be called. Waiting near the A & W at the food court, after 20 minutes, I thought, it’s a scam and I should’ve brought my notes and computer to work on my Christmas sermon. Then my cell rang, Jenn said, “Sylvia’s at RBC bank…go find her there.” Starting to feel like a wild goose chase, but I found the bank and Sylvia in the teller’s line…getting her cheque for TLC, a $5000 cheque that cleared the bank…and she called a few days later, when I was visiting family in Minnesota, wanting to give more. Her generosity continued every Christmas until her last breath.


    如果不是在2017年圣诞前几天,西尔维亚没有突然给教堂打电话,我们就不会遇到肯尼斯。老实说,第一次见到西尔维亚时,我对此心存疑虑。这感觉有些冒险,有点像我被设局陷入了骗局中。想象一下:2017年圣诞前几天,一位牧师有些担心教堂可能出现赤字,然后这个陌生女人打电话并提出要捐款给教堂...一个完全陌生的人要求我亲自在Central City购物中心的美食广场见面...我在电话中与她聊了一会,试图了解她的动机。最后,我决定去见她。我告诉了我的办公室管理员詹妮我要去哪里和我在做什么,只是为了如果需要叫警察的话,有人知道我的行踪。在美食广场的A&W附近等待了20分钟后,我想,这是个骗局,我应该带上我的笔记本和电脑来准备圣诞讲道。然后我的手机响了,詹妮说:“西尔维亚在RBC银行...去那里找她。”开始感觉自己像在追逐野鹅,但我找到了银行,也找到了银行柜台上的西尔维亚...拿着一张给TLC的支票,一张5000美元的支票,银行已经兑现了...她在几天后打电话来,当时我正在明尼苏达州探访家人,她想再捐款。她的慷慨一直持续到她的最后一刻。


    In preparing for today,  I also asked Kenneth: In what ways, if at all, have you met God through TLC?  He said, “I honestly could not tell you that. But I’ve always been directed in some way in my life. When I was sick in ICU with COVID19, one day I found myself hovering above my physical body, but I didn’t go far. It wasn’t like other people who follow a light. I was just thinking to myself, this is really cool. Then, I thought, ‘Oh, I better get myself back into my body or I’ll get in trouble. If I did meet God, that’s the closest I’ve gotten.’”




    At a certain point during Kenneth’s hospitalization, Sylvia was beside herself, afraid of losing him…she called me. We prayed on the phone that day. Then we asked the prayer chain and all of you to pray. Was this when Kenneth was hovering above his body? It’s a mystery, known only to God. But somehow Kenneth, through all this, ended up here with us.




    Having a degree in biology and business, Kenneth says, “I was telling Jeff Han recently, who also has a degree in science, ‘For sometime now I’ve believed science and religion are linked, I just don’t know how. So, is it coincidence or as pastor says, is it God working behind the scenes?”




    Last October, I told Kenneth that he was a very big asset to the TLC community because I could see his willing servant’s heart, his ability to notice and quickly befriend strangers and I’d seen his compassionate heart caring for Sylvia as she was dying. Kenneth says, he didn’t understand what I meant about him being an asset; he couldn’t see the full picture. But reflecting back, he’s starting to understand. He says, “I don’t know if God directed me here, but, it is possible.




    It’s not fair that the last will be first. It’s also not prudent business practice to pay people for work they don’t complete. Am I right? No church treasurer would agree to throw money away like this landowner, right? Though we may worry about church finances, we know that the church is not a business. God’s grace is not a transaction that any of us earn. God’s amazing grace comes without a price tag, giving us more mercy and hopeful possibilities than we deserve. The church is a not-for-profit community that exists not only for those of you who are listening right now, but for those like Kenneth, whom we have yet to meet. Those who long to know God’s amazing grace in the midst of life’s troubles. It’s not our job to decide how much grace people need. Jesus poured out ALL he had been given in the face of total rejection, letting go of the right to get even, humbling himself to the point of death, trusting that the Holy One would never let go. The cross shows us that God is not keeping some divine ledger; God would rather die than keep a ledger of who deserves what. We are here to receive the grace God offers right now and to lavishly share it, not calculate how much we or anyone else deserves. Maybe even go a little crazy as we give grace away, trusting we will have ALL we need as we let go.



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