This weekend and next I'm down in Seattle speaking with my parents at the missions conference of my old home church, ECC. Even just in the couple days I've been down here so far, such a flood of emotions has swept me up; I haven't had a chance to catch my breath until today. Coupled with chronic lack of sleep this school year, it was a bit overwhelming (but joyous!) for me. Thankfully, this week is our spring reading break, so today I got a chance to sleep in and let my body recover. The photo above is from Dennis' lovely nature-filled backyard, surrounded by Douglas firs and cedars, set to the tune of chirping birds, awash in the warm light of the setting sun.
ECC is the church I was born and grew up in; I have a lot of good memories here, and still have a lot of aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters in Christ here -- real family! Just to see the faces of those old friends, and to know that they're still faithfully serving the Lord, is so incredibly powerful and moving.
And yet, I'm also aware of the myriad problems within the church -- so very similar to the problems at the large Chinese churches I'm involved with back in Vancouver. So much structure, but so little communication. So many full-service programs, but so many people running on empty. Living in the lap of luxury, yet still needy, demanding, complaining. The "silent exodus" of second-generation Chinese.
Several here have made no secret about wanting me to come back, say as a youth pastor at EKC -- my Uncle Peter is already there leading things. It would be such an honour to be working alongside the likes of Willy and Nate, who were my youth counselors when I was high-school age! But, as the saying goes, you don't just marry one person, you marry into a whole family. And if I were to be on staff anywhere in the ECC system ... oh boy, that would, shall we say, require a lot of prayer....
I care deeply about my home church here. I remember her in prayer, and though I feel quite helpless, I know she is Christ's bride, and He is the one who will clean her up. It was such an immense privilege to stand before my own extended church family and share the word of God last Sunday at the EKC campus. The English congregation has grown tremendously! I'm a little nervous now about next Sunday, when I'll be preaching in English service at the Seattle campus -- I'll be addressing many of my uncles and aunties, many of whom changed my diapers when I was small! :)
ECC-EKC is very efficient about getting their sermons posted online; here is the audio recording of my sermon from Isaiah 61:1-4, titled, "FREEDOM!" (12MB 52min wmv). It starts from Elton's congregational prayer, then runs through my (slightly over-time) message, wrapping up with the response song that Kelvin graciously let me lead for the congregation. I always get a bit scared and embarrassed to listen to a recording of myself! (Is my voice really that squeaky?) :)
Update: The following week I got to speak at the main Seattle campus of ECC -- it's the very sanctuary and congregation I grew up in, and it was pretty emotional for me. Here's my sermon from Isaiah 58, "Missions and the Sabbath" (9MB 38min wmv).