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August 2019
Issue No. 304

St John’s Cathedral holds Blessing Hong Kong service

Some three hundred people attended the Blessing Hong Kong Service at St John’s Cathedral on 30 June despite the pelting rain and overcast sky.

Hong Kong was rocked by social disturbances since 9 June because of the proposals of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on 9 July at a press conference that “the bill is dead” and said that the government’s work in amending the law was a “complete failure”.

The Blessing Hong Kong Service was officiated by the Most Revd Dr Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong, while the Rt Revd Dr Timothy Kwok, Bishop of Eastern Kowloon, preached the sermon.
Bishop Kwok said that the cause of the controversy was the deep-seated conflicts within the society. These conflicts had surpassed the ideological and cultural differences between mainland China and Hong Kong. He pointed out that since the handover, there had been fear and suspicion among the citizens caused by these differences. The recent conflicts were believed to be caused by the fact that such fear and suspicion became the subject of major public discussions. Recent conflicts also led to the division of the society and resulted in confrontation.

To find a way out of this difficult situation, Bishop Kwok suggested congregants start off by considering the problem from the perspective of the Trinitarian God’s love. God, who has love, rationality, and mercy, created humankind in his image.Therefore, humans are also bearers of these qualities.

Furthermore, out of love, God gave humankind the freedom of choice. Humankind can even choose not to respond to God’s love for them. Similarly, humankind has the freedom to decide whether to resolve conflicts with love, reason, mercy, and justice.

Bishop Kwok stressed that because God created humankind in his image, kindness is our nature and norm; as long as people could rediscover their nature, it could influence the way they interact with people. As long as we keep our conscience, the kindness within us will manifest again. When people are in conflict, they can no longer conduct rational discussions and the image of God begins to blur. Bishop Kwok reminded us that “as long as we pray to the Holy Spirit, our hardened hearts will be touched, and the qualities that made us images of God will reappear. We can then communicate with others and resolve the difficulties faced by each other.”

Bishop Kwok hoped that the congregation would not lose faith in God, because as the creator of everything, he steers the direction of history and walks with the people. In whatever circumstances, he can turn darkness into light and chaos into order and has the power to lead Hong Kong out of this difficult time. Bishop Kwok called on the congregants not to lose faith in humanity either. In these times of strife, “if everyone could calm down and allow ourselves to be touched by the Holy Spirit, we may rediscover the good nature bestowed upon us by the Lord, and we could choose to resolve our problems with rationality and our conflicts with love.”

Superficial harmony and cheap reconciliation are not what people are looking for, Bishop Kwok pointed out. Therefore people need to understand and respect the differences between each other and start a dialogue to resolve problems through interactions with love and care.

“The bigger the difficulties, the more the graces will be bestowed. Hopefully, with God’s grace, Hong Kong could overcome the challenges today,” Bishop Kwok said.

After the sermon, the two bishops, together with Bishop Andrew Chan of Western Kowloon, knelt before the cross and led the congregation in praying to the Lord “to come among them and heal the brokenness”. Still on their knees, the bishops also led the congregation in repenting for “having seen the injustices done to others but have been slow to go to their aid”, “turning a blind eye to evil and dishonesty in our society”, “having heard the good news of Christ, and had kept it for ourselves”, and for “failing to live out the teaching of the gospel”.

At the end of the service, the Revd Robert Martin asked the congregation to write down words of hope on a paper cross they had been given before the service, and place it on the Good Friday Cross in front of the altar.

Among the congregation that day were representatives from the six religions. Other guests include Mrs Esther Blythe, Deputy Head of Mission, British Consulate-General Hong Kong; Mr Kurt Tong, Consul General of the United States of America to Hong Kong and Macau; and Mr Joshua Law, Secretary for the Civil Service.

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 304. Please click here>