Amidst the Gloom, Love Without Limits: CWM Staff Greet the New Year

by Cheon Young Cheol

The Council for World Mission (CWM) welcomed the new year with a Staff Communion Worship Service held 8 January in the CWM Singapore Office. The service was attended by both local and overseas staff, the latter participating virtually.

Rev. Julie Sim, Mission Secretary – Mission Programme and Partnership, East and South Asia, opened the service and, together with Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula, Mission Secretary – General Secretariat, served the Holy Communion elements to the local staff. The Communion Service allowed the staff to not only remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but also renew their commitment to CWM’s missional work to foster life-flourishing communities globally.

CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum delivered a sermon that referred to the apostle Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 which read, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (NIV)

Even though 2023 ended with notes of gloom amid a myriad of global conflicts and bloodshed, Rev. Dr Keum’s message encouraged all staff members to continue to take heart in the life-giving, life-transforming work of Christ and to live as a people of resurrection—raised up, undaunted, and undefeated as described in the words of Paul.

Christ’s resurrective hope

“Jesus’ resurrection opened up a horizon of hope to all who trust in Him,” said Rev. Dr Keum who reminded the staff members present that even though Christians throughout the world continue to face adversity and grapple with death, death itself does not have the last word.

To underline his point that earthly death and supernatural resurrection are inextricably linked, Rev. Dr Keum shared his experience with a friend. He illustrated how the man was struggling with detaching himself from the loss of his child.

“He tried every means to overcome the pain of losing his son but failed. As humans, it is impossible for us to detach ourselves from suffering on our own,” explained Rev. Dr Keum, “because we are not gods.” He added that, to fully confront loss, pain, and suffering that exist in this world would require one to rely on a supernatural God and to understand His promise of a resurrected life upon which man can draw hope, hope that comes from none other than the living Christ.

“The belief in a resurrective hope is not illusory but one that is grounded in reality upon which the New Testament bears witness,” declared Rev. Dr Keum. As witnesses to such a biblical hope, Rev. Dr Keum exhorted CWM’s staff members to go into the world and proclaim it and wrest it from the powers of empire that seek to impugn it.

“In this way, we Christians can bring a passioned sense of urgency to the moral challenges of our time,” surmised Rev. Dr Keum.

In closing, he called for staff members to continue to love without limit, that the work of CWM is to bring forth hope-filled possibilities to peoples and regions bereft of it.

“The calling of Jesus’ first disciples was set in the context of the forces of Empire that tempted Him against the principles of obedience and faithfulness to God. Jesus, having resisted these temptations, presented Himself to the community as one not given to the scandal of seduction. His command to follow Him is both a statement of rejection of the status quo and the creation of an alternative love for His sake,” preached Rev. Dr Keum, “therefore, in the new year ahead, let us strive to love each other and share God’s love to the world.”

The service was closed by Rev. Dileep as he pronounced God’s benediction over all CWM staff.

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