Today we attended the Anglican Church of Cambodia called Church of Christ Our Peace. That is a mouthfull. I see why they abbreviate!
Our English service was at 10am. The Khmer service took place at 8:30am. That would have been interesting. There were over 200 in attendance and many children. We sat with Ike who is from Nigeria but works in Cambodia.
The pastor seemed really in tune to visitors and first timers. He explained what one needed to do to engage in the service: where the worship booklets are located, pray that God would speak to you during the service, etc. If you are not sure why you are here, pray, “God, if you are real, reveal yourself to me.”
I think that this is refreshing. I believe that we churched people don’t realize that the lost are lost when it comes to worship as well. Many are interested and may have wandered in to the church to learn what happens here. The church needs to be forever sensitive to this. We were all lost once!
There is an Old Testament reading, then a new Testament reading, then a Gospel reading. Oftentimes, it does not correlate to the sermon but is refreshing when it does.
1st reading: Daniel 7:13-14
I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom,
that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away;
and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.
We stood and sang before and after the Gospel reading:
Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
During this time, the pastor was praying with Ethan Helm who is a physician who will be delivering the sermon. He is studying Khmer and is at Level 8.
At 19, he was struggling with his faith and God’s gentle hand guided him to His Word. He read the Bible front to back, but he acknowledged that no one can ever really finish the Bible. It reveals more each time that one reads it.
Revelation is less about prophecy and more about the gospel. Its audience is the persecuted.
You may feel persecuted if you are far from home. Khmer families may be persecuted here at home.
John was the beloved fisherman disciple who was entrusted with care of Jesus’ mother. He was exiled after the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem. The time of persecution by Nero was over but another had begun by Domition. Domition tried to kill him twice. According to tradition he was burned but he walked away unscathed, and then he was made to drink poison which had no effect. Finally, he was exiled because each death defying result produced more followers. John faithfully proclaimed the gospel… Jesus has overcome.
In Revelation 2, Antipas was murdered. Persecution was here and now to the readers when The Revelation was first written.
Christians refused to worship the Roman Emperor and ironically the church grew.
The same persecution happened earlier in Acts. Stephen was murdered, but God used his death for His glory. Once this happened, Christians left Jerusalem, and the gospel spread.
The Revelation letters were written to those who lived far away from Jerusalem. If one drove by car nonstop from Jerusalem to Ephesus, it would take 23 hours.
When God inspired John to write to the churches, he addressed not only the churches but also their individuals in Turkey. He speaks to churches and individuals today as well.
2nd reading and Sermon Scripture: Revelation 1:1-8
1.The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,
2. who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
3. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
4. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
5. and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood
6.—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
8. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Revelation 1:2-3 tells how was the early church, and the church today is blessed by this book.
The gospel is true, and He is coming back. We have overcome with Him. This is the only book that involves a blessing. Remember the context and the audience.
In Revelation 1:4-5, seven is used twice. Seven is used many times in the Bible which refers to completeness. Letters to the seven churches are for all Christians then and now.
And here is what he said to those seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
Thyatira and Pergamom and Sardis was called out for their reversion back to paganism, sexual immorality and blasphemy.
Ephesus knew God’s theology but had gone into legalism. They forgot their first love (Jesus). They were alive but now are dead.
Laodicea has more trust in their prosperity than in their faith.
Smyrna was afflicted and poor. This may affect their ability to be faithful unto death.
Philadelphia endures and obeys but is weak.
In Revelation 1:5b-6, John uses “us”. We are identified as followers of Jesus. We can talk directly to Him. He is our only hope, and He is the only hope for the world.
Revelation 1:7 tells of Jesus’ return which is a central part of the gospel. Jesus is coming back!
The eternal nature of God is repeated in Revelation 1:8 referring to Him as the Alpha and Omega. He has always existed. He is the King now. And He will reign tomorrow.
In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and he asked his magicians to tell him the dream AND its interpretation. They could not and claimed that no one could.
Daniel and his friends prayed to God and asked for mercy. Daniel explained to the king that no one can explain dreams but only God reveals mystery, and he proceeded.
The dream was of a large statue of which the head is Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. A rock strikes the statue and it crumbles.
Daniel 2:44 says that there will be a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
Jesus is the rock. We are a citizen of this kingdom. Jesus is the eternal king which will never be destroyed. This must have been encouraging to the friends of Antipas.
Psalm 89:26-29 tells of the firstborn from the grave and the king of kings. All earthly kingdoms are in his hands. That’s good news!!
He will cry to Me, “You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.” I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My loving kindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven.
God is patient. God lives outside of time. He wants everyone to acknowledge Christ as Savior.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Believers have been trusted with a commission. We have a job to do. This is not an option, or for others or missionaries. This is what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ. A citizen of an unshakeable kingdom.
When Christ comes, the time for patience has come to an end. Everyone will have made their decision. The wrath of God will come. This truth of God helps us know how truly awful sin really is. Understanding the wrath of God is the beginning of wisdom.
If He hates sin, He must do something about it…and He did.
After the sermon, the pastor instructed the congregation to be still before God and allow the sermon to speak to you. I love this and often feel that this is a critical time for spiritual development to process what God has spoken into your heart.
But what followed was bizarre. We were asked to share the Peace of Christ. The pastor explained that when we share the Peace of Christ this demonstrates unity and says if I sin against you, I will repent and ask forgiveness, and vice versa.
So turn to your neighbor and say “The Peace of Christ be with you.” And the response is “And also with you.”
I have experienced this before and some people like me say this to people on each side and in front and in back. In other small churches, everyone greets everyone. (For germaphobes, this is a painful event and even prevents church attendance.)
However, in this church, people stood up and talked over ten minutes. Some rushed outside to visit and get a refreshment like it was halftime of a sporting event or intermission at a play.
Most people were working the room and chit-chatting. Some people, like us, remained in our seats waiting for the worship service to continue. I tried to pray during this time but it was too loud. It felt very odd and irreverent.
The pastor tried to reel everyone back. He expressed happiness that everyone is so good at passing the peace. Does he really think that is what was happening?
Everyone returned for announcements followed by communion.
The welcoming team needed more participants. Team Kiwi is a fifteen person mission team from New Zealand and is now returning home after spending four months here.
We went forward for communion while we sang songs. I am used to taking this time to personally thank Christ for his sacrifice. However, I must admit that it serves to keep the corporate mind on communion.
Communion was by intinction which means that one takes the bread and then dips it in the wine.
“The body of Jesus; the bread of love.”
“The blood of Jesus; the cup of sacrifice.”
Christ is our example of sacrifice and we give sacrificially.
and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:2
When we left the church, Rob pointed out the baptismal font. It was like a small swimming pool at the outside entrance to the sanctuary. There was no water in it but it sure would be inviting on a hot humid day.