Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Colours of Lent in Hong Kong

Lent 2013 has come with an explosion of colors and holidays in Hong Kong:

Chinese New Year with vibrant, springtime reds.

Chinese Hibiscus Feb. 14, 2013
Valentine's Day, and what I've called "Valentines from God"

A Red-Whiskered Bulbul Feb. 14, 2013

Chinese University, HK, Feb. 14, 2013

and, of course, the Christian season of Lent, with its

purples and deep blues of contemplation, fasting, prayer, Bible study.
Lenten colours captured at Kadoorie Farm, Hong Kong Feb. 15, 2013

It's an extraordinarily busy time... Wayne is starting the harrowing process of editing long dissertations from students whose primary language is not English (often English is their third, fourth, or even fifth language!)

and I have begun receiving the deluge of new international student applications, which is exciting, and challenging. Each new application demands a huge amount of time, downloading files and checking the paperwork, and next week I'm off to Myanmar again, to do personal interviews with potential students. Me? Discerning which candidates would be best suited/best helped/best served/best at returning the enormous resources invested in each student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong? I'm overwhelmed with the responsibility.

Similarly Wayne is nearly overwhelmed with the responsibility of helping students through the doctoral process, since these students will return to their home countries - Myanmar and Indonesian students are scheduled to graduate this year -- as "experts" in the field of pastoral ministry. Lord have mercy!

It's a season where we ask ourselves, what is it all for? Is it worth it? Is this what we are supposed to be doing with our lives? Are degree programs in theology actually helpful for churches in cultures so different from that of the West? Are we doing it right? well?

And this Lent it turns out that both Wayne and I are involved in Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. This week's Scripture verses included Jesus' deep compassion for a woman whose son had died (The widow of Nain, Luke 7:11-17 ) and also a passage from the Psalm 8, rendered here in a slightly different translation than the one I'm used to:

When I look up at your heavens,
    shaped by your fingers,
at the the moon and the stars you set firm -
    which you have set in place,
 what are human beings that you spare a thought for them,
or the child of Adam that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,
you have crowned him with glory and beauty,
made him lord of the works of your hands...   -- Psalm 8

And so we are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus... observing and imitating his deep compassion... and we are reminded to keep our eyes also on those works of creation God has entrusted to us....

I'll be reporting next on my trip to Myanmar!

In Lenten Peace, with Lenten eyes watching for Lenten colours and signs of Jesus --


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Year of the Snake!

Happy Chinese New Year (also known by some as Vietnamese New Year! :) )
Did you know the early Christian church was known for the coming together of cultures, and its JOY?! At Lutheran Theological Seminary we get that! 

Playing "rock, paper, scissors" - did you know this game
was invented by the Chinese?  
At one point during our International Student's Chinese New Year Party, I laughed so hard I thought, oh oh, I've had too much to drink... only to remember there was absolutely nothing alcoholic at the party.

My other joy this week is that I finally went in person to the Hong Kong Immigration Dept. to help plead the cause for one of our Mekong students applying for a renewal -- and we made it through the system!!! His approval should be arriving in the mail in a couple of weeks, which is great since the student in question is exactly the kind of good-hearted, smart, and culturally observant pastor who can benefit the most from the LTS education... and go back to benefit his community and the Christian witness in his home culture (of Cambodia).

So, as of Sunday, it's officially the Year of the Snake!! Despite the bad press snakes get from that early story of the serpent in Genesis, there are actually several positive pictures of snakes in the Bible, including Jesus' own teaching to his disciples, as he sent them out:
“…be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16b)

May we grow in wisdom, innocence, and joy in the Lord this year.
Happy New Year of the Snake!