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April 2021
Issue No. 308
 

The Rt Revd Matthias Der enthroned as Bishop of Hong Kong Island

(© 教聲/ ECHO) 

The Rt Revd Matthias Der was enthroned in St John’s Cathedral as the third Bishop of Hong Kong Island at 10:30 a.m., 2 January 2021 (Saturday, the Feast of SS Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus). In his sermon, he appealed to Christians to pray for a stop to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the infected, the deceased, the quarantined, and all health workers.

The enthronement service took place as a morning prayer. Bishop Der knocked on the door of St John’s Cathedral with his pastoral staff three times and was welcomed into the cathedral. He then petitioned the Acting Dean; canon, chaplain and lay representatives of the Cathedral; General Secretary of the Diocesan Synod; clergy and lay representatives of the diocese for his enthronement. After that, Bishop Der presented the Letter of Consecration to the clergy and lay representatives of the diocese and promised that he would faithfully observe the laws and customs of the Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist and that he would teach and maintain the faith of Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine and discipline of His Church as accepted and acknowledged in the Diocese of Hong Kong Island. Bishop Der also declared that he assented to the Constitution and Canons of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, and agreed to govern the diocese according to the Constitution and Canons with truth, justice, and charity, not lording it over God’s heritage, but showing himself in all things an example to the flock.

After the Word of God and the Apostles’ Creed, the Acting Dean together with the clergy and lay representatives of the diocese led Bishop Der to the cathedra to receive the pastoral staff and be enthroned.

In his sermon, Bishop Der mentioned that citizens of Hong Kong have undergone a time of great worries and fear, disappointment and frustration, and many people—especially the younger generation—wonder what their future holds. At this time, we are also seeing drastic economic downturn, which has affected the livelihoods of many, and the number of people who suffered from signs of depression has gone up.

“In a time when the trust between people has shattered and suspicion has become the first reaction we have for others, what meaning does today’s service bear?” Bishop Der asked the congregation.
He then explained that an enthronement service is not just about the bishop but about everybody. The Diocese of Hong Kong Island and its new bishop are making a covenant to each other to serve the kingdom of heaven. God is working in mysterious ways in the midst of this troubling time and is walking with the people.

Bishop Der said, “We are here to tell the world that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for all people. Through him alone, we have our hope and meaningful future. Today, we recommit ourselves to our Lord and to each other in serving his kingdom.”

Bishop Der said that although so much around the world has changed and is still changing, the truth and love of Jesus Christ remain unchanged. As a result, no one’s identity and ethos are defined by what is happening around them, whether that is the pandemic or uncertainty in our personal lives or the future of Hong Kong because a Christian’s life orientation should be defined by the core values of God’s kingdom. These core values are in turn reflected in the mindset, ideals, and actions of the people of God. “Only then can we make sense of the meaning of today’s enthronement,” Bishop Der stressed.

Bishop Der also said that one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past year is that it has highlighted how unpredictable life and the world around us can be, and that they are full of sufferings, despair and brokenness. “People are in great need of the love of God and the faith in Christ in order to trek the road ahead. God desires more people to know Him, His love and His salvation, which the Church exists to proclaim.”

Quoting the first reading, Isaiah 40:9–11, Bishop Der explained that God is the good shepherd, who knows the needs of His people and is eager to bring hope and good news to the world: “Lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings. . . . See, the Lord God comes with might. . . . He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep’.”

This is the mission of the Church today, to tell Hong Kong and even the world that God the Good Shepherd cares for them and leads them. It is only in him, and not in human leaders or any kind of systems, that we can find true meanings and purpose in life.

Bishop Der stressed that although the path ahead may be full of obstacles and that the mission of God is not easy to accomplish, he remains optimistic because when darkness gets darker, the light of Christ grows brighter. He committed himself before God to join his flock in serving His kingdom and His people.

Children represent the future of the world. God send them to bring hope to the world, and so the Church’s mission is closely related to them. After dismissal, Bishop Der lit the candles in the hands of two children and walked out of the cathedral with them.

At the door of the cathedral, he gave his blessing to the city of Hong Kong and the Diocese of Hong Kong Island by saying: “God bless this City and the Diocese of Hong Kong Island, and all who live and work here. May God in Jesus Christ visit you with mercy, surround you with love, and fill your hearts with courage, strength and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you always. ”

 

(© 教聲/ ECHO) 

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 308. Please click here>

 

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