Monday, June 25, 2007

Where's My Seat?

This past Sunday, I visited a church as an import translator for their Chinese service. Thanks to an extremely early driver who arrived at our parsonage two hours before the worship service, I arrived at the church far ahead of schedule, thus indirectly obliged to attend their English service.

Now, I was invited over for the second service, where lots of people recognized me, knew me, and adored me. To them, I was the gifted one and only daughter of the beloved Rev. Danny. For them, I was like a young guest of honor, someone a specialized driver picked up for the translator's position on the pew and in the pulpit. That's what I had expected.

What I didn't expect, was to be greeted as a late-comer by an English service usherette who reacted to my formal business attire. Since I was just waiting for the next service, I opted for a back seat. There I sat, anonymous and quiet, no high-profile, no people reacting with smiles to my presence. It felt weird.

My comfort was restored with the turnover to the Chinese service. Sitting up front, standing on stage, having everyone know me, I felt everything to be back to familiarity...but I had realized one truth already.

Over all these years of nearly living on stage every Sunday, I've been allowing my ministry rather than my Christianity to define me. I'm used to having a seat every week, on the first row as translator, at the front pews as worship team member, or perhaps with the choir. I'm too used to doing something, too used to letting ministerial posts identify me. Whether in my church or another church, when I'm all alone without any "service" to do, I don't even know where to sit.

That experience was quite a wake-up call from God. I know my duty is to worship Him, and that includes the times when I am alone with no church duties at hand. When I'm beset with numerous duties in "worship" service, I sometimes lose the ability to be a pure and simple worshipper, one who worships in spirit and in truth, regardless of the job, regardless of the seat.

This is no dramatic experience, nor is it any beautifully-written incident of an encounter with God. This is just a post about another reminder from the Lord, a reminder that I think I need more often. I am a Christian, who serves on stage...not vice versa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Honoring My Folks

I have been attending quite a few weddings recently. For most girls, weddings are times for dreaming, and I cannot claim to be an exception. Weddings are so romantic, so sweet, so emotional...and so filled with an atmosphere of love that makes every girl dream of what she would do with her own special day.

As a pastor's daughter who grew up witnessing countless weddings a year, however, I have a slightly different perspective. The gowns, the flowers, the music, the candles, and the rings are all wonderful, but I seek for the meaning of the covenant more than the romance of the event. For me, my favorite wedding items are the promises, the vows, and one item that is not always present--the tribute to the parents.

In our church, the groom and bride often give verbal tributes to their respective parents before exchanging vows themselves. Right before they become an independent unit before God and man, it provides a chance for them to express their gratitude towards those who had raised them.

For me, I often dream of what I would say to my parents on my wedding day. I would thank my mom for her time, her love, her teaching, and all the skills and traits that she had passed on to "Hensie jr." Then I would thank my dad for his provision, his love, his guidance, and his amazing model of a heavenly Father's love. I would be such a teary-eyed daughter whipsering words of heartfelt gratitude.

During a wedding last Saturday, a truth hit me.

Even if such words on my wedding day would be based upon absolute sincerity, they would be meaningless if my life does not manifest the gratitude that I profess to have. If I truly understand what my parents have done for me, then I must respond by respecting and loving them through my everyday life.

A very good friend once agreed with me, "The more you grow, the more you love your parents." True, maturity will help us to see what our parents have done for us. However, it doesn't stop there.

Do I love my parents with the way I live? I don't know. It is easy to use flowery statements to say that I thank them, but it is a greater challenge to serve and honor them in my daily life.

This is a lesson that I hope to always keep fresh in my mind. May I learn not only to thank my parents with pretty descriptions sometime in the future, but may I truly live with such gratitude today. They are, after all, among God's greatest channels of blessings to me.