Dying for Rebirth

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk, on June 22, 2014.  Taken from Matthew 10:24-39.

This morning’s New Testament lesson from Matthew is a challenging word. I didn’t choose it. It was the assigned Gospel lesson for today in the Revised Common Lectionary. This passage is a hard teaching of Jesus that challenges my tendency to see him solely in comforting, pastoral terms. But Jesus declares some sobering realities to his disciples. In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus had just sent out his twelve disciples to the nearby Jewish towns and villages on a mission of preaching and healing. Gone were the comforting days when these students were nestled in the cocoon of Jesus’ protective care, being fed by Jesus, watching and learning from Jesus their teacher. Now, Jesus is pushing his students out into the world, and Jesus is preparing them to face resistance and persecution as a result of the mission. This resistance will come not just from outside, from those who are not yet believers. No, the resistance may also come from within, from family members, and yes, even from themselves. Many times, “resistance” is too strong a word. “Concern” might better describe the feelings of those who need more information, who need greater clarity before going on mission. After all, Jesus himself advised his followers to “count the cost” before embarking on an important venture.

In the past couple of weeks, I have received comments and thoughts from some of you regarding my idea of launching a second service for the purpose of reaching out to the university community. Thanks to your input, I’ve come to realize that I need to explain and clarify more about what I’m proposing. Allow me to offer these thoughts for your consideration. read on

Different Gifts, Common Good

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk,  for Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014.  Taken from Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3-13.

For those of us who are parents, we remember the birth of our children. On the morning of the day that Thea was born, Beth and I went to visit a church friend at Martha Jefferson Hospital because she had just given birth to a son. On the way back home from the visit, Beth’s water broke, and I turned the car around and hurried back to Beth’s obstetrician. Thankfully, his office was right across the street from Martha Jefferson Hospital (the old one on Locust Ave.), and he immediately admitted Beth to a room. The nurses at the birthing wing were surprised to see Beth again, this time sitting in a wheelchair and in full labor! An hour or so after we casually visited our friend’s new baby, we had one of our own!

For me, that experience was chaotic and disorienting, as I felt like a helpless bystander in a whirlwind of activity. I tried to support Beth the best that I could, but there was little that I could do. Beth’s labor came so quickly, she didn’t time for an epidural. So she experienced the full labor and the full pain of childbirth. But when the nurse brought Thea into the room for Beth to hold in her arms for the first time, we saw that living miracle and we knew that our lives would never be the same.

Little did we realize just how much our lives would change! read on

Responding to a Wake-Up Call

Sermon preached by Michael Cheuk, Sunday, February 16, 2014.
Matthew 6:26-33; Matt 16:13-19

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to offer a “State of the UBC” address at one of our Wednesday night suppers.  But every time it’s on the schedule, we’ve had to cancel for bad weather or icy streets.  Some of you have told me, “I don’t think God wants you to give that talk!”  But I’ve found a way to fool God – I’m going to sneak it in to my sermon this morning.  If a blizzard comes out of nowhere or we lose our power in the next fifteen minutes, we’ll know that God really didn’t want me to give this talk!

All I want to do is give a report of what I’ve observed during my first year as your Senior Minister.  One thing I’ve noticed is that we’re a busy church, and there are lots of important and significant ministries taking place.  We just finished PACEM, opening our church to homeless men for the past two weeks, including some very, very snowy nights. Thanks to all of you who changed your schedules or gave an extra effort to sustain this ministry despite the weather.  As we hope to leave winter behind and head to spring, Alba is working on Jubilate’s upcoming tour during spring break.  Every Sunday morning, we offer English lessons to people from around the world. These are just some of the ministries at our church that are longstanding and important.

There are also some exciting new developments.  read on