Hi everyone. I am Alan. I’m very thankful today for the opportunity and the calling to be baptized.
My path in faith hasn’t been without difficulties and being a follower of Jesus didn’t solve my personal issues. That is not why I’m here today. I echo the same reasons like many parishioners here in BMCC, that is not why we choose to follow him.
What we do believe in is Logos made flesh — God’s love in the form of Jesus and all that he has done. His vision for a world of love and justice gives me hope and courage to continue Jesus’ movement.
I want to thank Catherine So, my senior from my university days. In 2013, when my emotions were the most fragile, she introduced me to Christ.
She may not completely understand how I feel as a member of a sexual minority, but she sensed my soul scattered and heart in broken pieces. She didn’t try to change my sexual orientation because she knew that wasn’t where the problem lies. When other friends and family pointed me to indulge my senses with lavish goods to find my reason to live, I freeze in my own tracks. At my deepest core as a person, I couldn’t accept myself. I felt like my creation is a mistake and my only redemption is to have a “successful” life to correct that mistake.
Surrounding myself with beautiful objects and the endless race to maintain such a lifestyle didn’t bring me real peace nor joy.
Catherine was by my side patiently as I wept and her companionship was very powerful. Jesus is also that great companion and I feel His presence in her gently rebuilding my soul. From the depths of lamentation, I slowly found the strength to stand once again and accept myself.
My life is a testimony. My existence is worthy and so is my creation. God has made no mistake and my life is worth celebrating. One day I will stand strong like Catherine and bring the same warmth and peace to those who need it.
The next part is dedicated to my friends at St. Ann & Holy Trinity Church at Brooklyn Heights New York. The moment I first stepped into the space I felt the warmth and love from the community. There is diversity in every corner and dimension, from culture, tradition, and thought.
There are no roles restricted by gender or age and no preconditions to come near the altar for communion. I saw the uniqueness we each bring to serve God and how we embrace all those forms of expression. I enjoyed serving at the altar guild cleaning the chalice as much as the finance committee comparing investment choices and allocating asset. That is my true self and the many ways I connect with God.
(Holding the corporal in hand)
This is my gift from the Altar Guild, a corporal. This symbolizes the fabric that covers and enfolds the body of Christ. I was told at certain churches I am not fit to serve because of my sexual identity, so I never thought about the importance of serving because I’m not qualified. Jesus spent his life tearing down these man-made barriers separating those who are marginalized. Many churches talk about it, but St. Ann’s has done it.
When I am invited to serve at St Ann’s I finally understood what a church is made of. This spirit of inclusiveness is inseparable from God’s kingdom. Faith is not only a mental state of belief, it is also a practice that impacts the very world we live in. Embrace the lives that are different from us because God’s image is in every one of us.
My soul is truly liberated at St. Ann’s and I’ll never take my days there for granted. I will witness and participate in building these values everywhere I go.
God will bring me to where I need to be and in March 2017 I found BMCC. It’s a place that is honest to embracing the true self and practices it with courage. I have finally found a place where I can be my honest self, a sanctuary.
I have seen the public misconceptions here in Asia and other developing countries. The stigma is deep and troubling but I’m not angry at those who cannot accept our identity. The society must learn to accept diversity, which is the reality in any groups of human.
This takes not only time but also guidance from those who have the courage to expose the problem of prejudice and discrimination. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Generations of misinformation and defamation have fueled the stigma that the current marginalized community has to bear.
Jesus spent his life tearing down these invisible walls and calls for us to follow what he has done. The foundations of a righteous kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) are not built by him alone. It has been and always will be an ongoing mission by all those who share his vision. Christian and otherwise.
If you have the freedom and the courage to stand up for the fellow oppressed, please do so. If you cannot, due to the many limitations in life, fear not. As a part of Christ’s body, you are not alone, someone has heard your cry and will protect you.
This is why I’ve joined the Social Justice Ministry at this Church.
A couple months ago I was at a spiritual direction retreat at Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre (a century-old institution founded by the Norwegian missionary Karl Ludvig Reichelt). During a session, I received an intriguing vision.
I saw Jesus in the form of a child next to a gently flowing stream holding my hand as we enjoyed the day. By night, the child needed my protection as I embraced him in the cold outdoors. When I became exhausted and unable to protect him anymore, Jesus grew into an adult and I transformed into a child. I laid my head on his lap to rest.
The foundations we build today are daunting but they are the shelters for us tomorrow and for many others to come. Christ is calling me to protect His body and perhaps this is your calling too.
If you have time, give some time.
If you have treasure, give some treasure.
If you have talent, use your talent.
Jesus, I’m willing to enter into this union with you to die and be reborn together.