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We thank God for our 14th Anniversary/Thanksgiving Service today.  Truly, it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are able to gather for this meaningful time of celebration in these days of turmoil and uncertainty.  

Around April last year, our government implemented strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, one of which was to suspend all religious services and congregations.   With this restriction, we conducted our worship services and prayer meetings virtually.  However, with the subsequent easing of COVID-19 safety measures, we were able to return to physical worship on 4 October last year.  

This year’s Thanksgiving Service is significantly different from that of previous years because of the pandemic.  In recent weeks, with the spike in infections, the COVID-19 Task Force has decided to implement more stringent measures which took effect yesterday – one of which is the prohibition of congregational singing.  On this happy occasion, however, let us not allow this restriction to deter us from rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness to us as a church.  Though we are not able to sing aloud, let us sing in our hearts to the Lord Who has faithfully sustained us for the past 14 years.  

Despite these stricter curbs, we thank the Lord for watching over us during this crisis.  Though we may sometimes find the containment measures inconvenient or restrictive, let us be mindful that they are for our good and are needful to curb the virus.  We thank God for members of the COVID-19 Task Force who have laboured ceaselessly to contain the virus spread.  Indeed, we are blessed to be living in Singapore in these troubled times.  

We are grateful to the Lord for His grace as we make adjustments based on the government’s advisories.  Though there are still many uncertainties, we who belong to the Lord can rest in His providential care.  Our sovereign Lord is still in control:  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8: 28).  

As we ponder on the COVID-19 pandemic, one thought comes to mind:  Could the pandemic be one of the end-time signs before the return of our Saviour Jesus Christ?  Though there are many speculations,  no one really knows for sure.  As God’s people, let us not be passive or idle.  Rather, let us prepare ourselves to meet our Lord.  

In the parable of the talents (Matt 25: 14-30), Jesus emphasised the importance of employing our talents diligently in our present work and service.  The Lord commended the first two faithful servants who did well by doubling their talents through trading (vv 21, 23).  But to the idle servant who hid his talent in the earth (v 25), the Lord had sharp words of rebuke – “Thou wicked and slothful servant” – and condemnation – “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv 26a, 30). 

Brethren, our Saviour’s return draweth nigh.  The apostle Peter describes Christ’s coming “as a thief in the night” – unexpected and unannounced (I Pet 3: 10).  Let us be ready to meet our Lord when He comes for us.  Be diligent to apply the gifts and talents given us by the Lord for His service and glory.  While He tarries, let us be faithful in our Christian duties.  Love and serve the Lord while there is yet time.  Resolve to love the brethren as commanded by our Saviour (Jn 13: 34-35).  May we also “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5: 15-16).  Amen.