Sunday, December 06, 2009

Free from Persecution. Only Love. (in memory of Hannah Faith Chan)

In today's sermon, Pastor Keith talked about the last Beatitude, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5: 10). He gave a lot of examples of how we as Christians face persecution every day at the workplace, at home, on the street, and so on. He closed by talking about John's words in the Book of Revelation. John talked about how there will be no more sea, no more pain, no more suffering. This reminded me of the lyrics in the song, "Hold Me Now," which I had first heard at Hannah's funeral.

Then it occurred to me that Hannah's life was only ever filled with love. She lived for a very short time, but she lived a life purely filled with love. She never had to experience pain, suffering, or persecution. She'll never have to feel rejection, mockery or shame.

Knowing this, is very comforting.

I thank the Holy Spirit for bringing me this message.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Little Hannah is With the Heavenly Father Now

Oct. 6, 2009-Nov. 29, 2009.

The funeral service for Hannah Faith Chan 陳凌雪 took place today at 11am at North York's York Cemetary and Visitation Centre.

Helen and I were the only members of the Care Group who were able to attend. Annie, Catherine, and Thai would surely have been there had the various circumstances not prevented them from doing so.

The Chan and Thang families were all in mourning, but at the same time, they each exhibited a quiet composure. Many of Alvin and Sze-sze's relatives, friends and co-workers also were in attendance.

At the beginning of the service led by Pastor Peter Ma, we sang a couple of hymns. Then there was a scripture reading, followed by a sermon in Cantonese, translated by Pastor Howard. It was a very meaningful sermon, one that, on recollection to the Care Group meeting last Friday night, was a sign from God to assure us that all of this is a part of His greater plan. We may not understand the full impact of Hannah's passing right now, but in the fullness of time, God will reveal it all to us who knew Hannah.

Last Friday, we had a Care Group meeting at Helen's place. Alvin led the Bible study, and he had misunderstood the writing on a post-it note that was placed on the inside cover of the a Bible study guide. Annie and Helen informed him of the error, and so Alvin had to abandon the lesson he had originally planned. In its place, he led the study session on Matthew 10. A lot of this chapter talks about how Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, forecasting the hardships that they would endure, and giving them encouragement and reassurance.

Jesus said, "29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care." The analogy is this: two sparrows are so worthless that you can buy two of them with a penny. Yet, our Heavenly Father still cares about them.

This is one of the verses that Pastor Peter quoted in his sermon today. The message is this: God plans for everything to unfold the way they do. Not one single event in our lives happened by accident. If God cares so much for two worthless sparrows, would He not care so much more for us, his children? Of course!

Jesus also said, "30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

God has counted the number of hairs on our heads. He *can* count the number of hairs on our heads. We can try as we might, but we would never be able to count it correctly. We don't have the greatness of wisdom to do so. But God does.

Last Friday, when Alvin was discussing this scripture with us, I only understood the surface meaning. Today, I now understand what God wanted me to learn. This is the first blessing.

After the sermon, Hannah's parents gave the eulogy. It was very moving, and hearing her father's sobbing brought many of us to tears. Next was a lady named Janice who was with Hannah the night before she passed away. That night, Hannah was crying incessantly, and Janice sang to her and finally lulled her to sleep. Janice sang this song to us today, and amidst her weeping, we were able to fathom a little bit of the sorrowful grace that Janice must have felt as she sang:
"No weeping, no hurt or pain,
No suffering, You hold me now, You hold me now.
No darkness, no sick or lame,
No hiding, You hold me now, You hold me now."
How could she have known that singing this song to Hannah for the first and last time that night would foretell the baby's passing?

Janice's experience with Hannah is the second blessing from our Father.

Last Saturday night, the families of Thang and Chan gathered together to celebrate the with the twins, and that was their last time spent with Hannah. The next morning, Hannah passed away. This is the third blessing.

Two weeks ago, Helen and I met up with Alvin and Sze-sze and the babies for a wonderful dinner made by Mrs. Thang for us. This was an unexpected and last minute arrangement, and it was a very enjoyable and quiet evening. Helen and I got to hold Hannah that night. Like her mother said to us today, not many people had the opportunity to meet her and hold her. I did, and I count this as the fourth blessing.

There are fifth and sixth and seventh blessings of which I have no knowledge right now, and there will be many more after that for which I may never know at all. But I know that Hannah's life has and will continue to bring to many people many blessings.

Her father said to Helen and I today, to pray for the impact that Hannah's life and death could have on others in bringing more people to Christ. Even on a day of such sorrow, Alvin was thinking of God in his heart, and he was serving God in his appeals for prayers. The prayer he wanted us to utter was not for comfort or strength or peace for himself and his wife, but for the many people who came to the funeral service who are non-believers, that they may know Christ through Hannah. For many parents, the sudden death of their child may very well become the reason why they start to hate God. For Alvin and Sze-sze, this is the total opposite. Their selflessness and fortitude is inspiring in the utmost.

May the Lord bless Alvin, Sze-sze and Little Michael.