Friday, September 16, 2005

Singapore Ultimate Open and Colleague's Funeral

Excellent! The Singapore Ultimate Open 2005 is here! And the forecast is clear blue skies and sunny days!

Singapore Open 2005
Click on box to download cheesy trailer.

NUH Orthopaedics will be there for some handholding. Wonder if their sports massages are as good as those by that Norwegian lady at Singapore Sports Council's Sports Medicine place at the National Stadium.

It seems a bit bipolar schizophrenic to be celebrating youth, life and energy with mad parties just after an extremely depressing funeral. Ah well, c'est la vie.

A strange ang moh pastor (SAMP) was helming my colleague's funeral.

General thoughts of attendees (GTA): GCA was Christian meh? Not like him. He never ever said anything all those years we knew him. May be we didn't know him that well after all...

SAMP [in an American tele-evanglist drawl]: I wish I'd known [pauses to look at name in his notes]...GCA...

GTA: Har? Don't know GCA? Stand there for what?

SAMP [continuing in an American tele-evangelist drawl]:...GCA was a kind, generous man who loved to joke. He was a good father, brother, husband and colleague...

GTA: Didn't you just say that you didn't know him? Such generalities can be said of any normal person what, as long as they didn't massacre many people. Hmmm...actually, even Pol Pot's wife said he was a good man so actually, you can say that even about evil-dictator-mass-murderer types! And what are you doing up there if you didn't know GCA?

SAMP: I am glad that GCA accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour in his last days...

GTA: !!! What folly is this???

SAMP: GCA lay on the bed, unconscious, his wife and son had the opportunity to ask him once again to put his trust in Jesus. He indicated that he wished to do so, so we stand here today not in hopelessness but in the hope that GCA has gone to be with our Lord Jesus Christ...

GTA: Hullo? You just said that the man was unconscious! Si mi indicated that he wished to accept Christ?! Are you pulling a fast one on us?

SAMP: Just the other day, my wife went to...[relates some boring illustration]

GTA: Ok...what's happening here? We're not here to listen to you relating your wife's tai-tai schedule. When are you getting to the bit about GCA?

SAMP: ...there was hopelessness at that funeral, but I don't sense that hopelessness here today because GCA is with the Lord. You see, unlike many of those Asian religions...

GTA: *^*%#@ chao ang moh! Don't know GCA still hog the mike. Don't know bluff or real tell us that GCA is Christian when we all knew him and knew he was not. Now come and insult Asians?!!! #$(@)*!

SAMP [rambles on for some time]: [blah blah blah]...God... [blah blah blah]...Jesus... [blah blah blah]...Jesus... [blah blah blah]...Jesus... [blah blah blah]...grace...

GTA: Grrr. When are we getting to the part about GCA?
[stretch necks to look at how the family is taking this. They seem fine.]

GTA: Grrr. Ok, chao ang moh. They don't seem to mind. Maybe you brainwashed them when their defences were low. Ne'ermin. Give you face this time.

SAMP: I am not seeking to capitalise on the situation, but I would like to offer every one of you today an opportunity to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today...[proceeds to pray Sinners' Prayer]

GTA: Ok ok... If you sincerely believe that's what's important for us that's fine. But get on with it and stop hogging the airtime.

SAMP: Thank you. Now please pay your last respects to GCA.

GTA: What?! You who didn't know GCA took up all the time talking about your God and your Jesus?!!! What about GCA? Ok, the tenuous link from GCA to your God and your Jesus is that he apparently accepted them on his deathbed but still!!! *&;#%@ Christians!

I am Christian. And I fully appreciate the urgency of telling people the danger they face and the rescue that is available to them in Jesus. But there are ways of doing that that are not impersonal, arrogant, high-handed, abrasive and ultimately, a stumbling block to those who do not yet believe. Sure, we preach Christ in season and out, because of the importance of the message of the gospel. So funerals are no exception. But if we love people, then we love them not generally and distantly but warmly and intimately. We grieve with those who grieve, and rejoice with those who rejoice, not by thrusting the gospel in their face via some stranger but by also celebrating the life of a human being who was so valuable in God's sight and so loved by him that he sent his son to die for him. And who better to celebrate that life and, as they believe, his afterlife than the people who knew and loved him most intimately.

As GCA's shell of a blotted body was wheeled out to be cremated, his sister-in-law brawled out repeatedly in Hainanese,"I want to talk to you! I want to see you! Where are you?!"

There was not a dry eye in the room. The hall was deathly silent. White lilies never smelled more sickly and cloying.

Was hopelessness really absent in that place?

But I trust God to work, even in our weakness and unlovingness and good intentioned-folly to do his will. May his will be done.

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