Can We Believe in the Resurrection?


Video at YouTube; text/transcript below

“Can We Believe in the Resurrection?” sermon by Shiao Chong

Preached on April 19, 2020 for Fellowship CRC, Etobicoke; Text: John 20:1-10, 19-31

Many people today can probably relate to the apostle Thomas when faced with the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Non-believers they will probably say, “Show me the proof! Show me empirical, scientific, measurable, and something that I can see, touch and know for certain that this is true then I’ll believe it! Otherwise, why should I believe you?” And I don’t blame them. When it is something as miraculous and as far-fetched as the physical, bodily resurrection, I don’t blame anyone if they are skeptical and would like some tangible proof.

And let’s face it – the resurrection of Jesus is something that is difficult to believe. Even the apostles, like Thomas, couldn’t believe it either. Ancient people back then knew as well as we do that dead people don’t come back to life.

So, do we have any proof that Jesus rose from the dead? Or have we been believing a fiction?

Today, I will give some rational reasons that support our belief in the resurrection. We may not have proofs beyond any doubt but we do have good rational reasons to believe in the resurrection. It is not irrational. For the sake of time, I will give you three reasons why I think the resurrection of Jesus was not made-up by the early Christians. Here are my three reasons:

Continue reading “Can We Believe in the Resurrection?”

Peace on a Donkey (Palm Sunday Sermon during COVID-19)


This is a Palm Sunday sermon I delivered (in digitally pre-recorded slideshow video) for Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, Etobicoke, ON on April 5, 2020 during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Video is above, text is below.

Texts: Matt. 21:1-11; Zechariah 9:9-10; John 14:27

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. And we have often read our Matthew 21 passage during Palm Sunday to remember and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem that marks, what we call, Holy Week, leading up to Good Friday and Easter.

Now, have you ever thought to yourself, “Why the donkey?” Why not a horse? When you think of a donkey, the first attributes that might come to mind are stubborn, or dumb, or even silly looking. You are probably not thinking of words like, beautiful or majestic. Those are adjectives more likely linked to horses rather than donkeys.

Therefore, it may surprise you – well, it surprised me at least – that a donkey in ancient times and in the Bible was a symbol of kingship and peace. A donkey was a staple of ancient Near Eastern royal ceremonies. For example, if you read in the Bible’s Old Testament 1 Kings 1:33-44, you will find there that Solomon rode on his father David’s mule to Gihon to be anointed king. There’s a connection there between kingship and the donkey or mule. Other non-Israelite or non-biblical ancient texts of the time also spoke of kings riding on donkeys for ceremonial entries or parades into cities. Donkeys, in the ancient eastern world, were symbols of royalty.

Continue reading “Peace on a Donkey (Palm Sunday Sermon during COVID-19)”

Becoming a World Changer


My fifth and final teaching video for now, Becoming a World Changer, lists out five major themes for Christians to be a Christ-centred agent of change.

I believe that Christians are called to join in God’s mission to not only “save souls,” so to speak, but also to reconcile “all things” to God, to bring about God’s shalom in the world.

Below the video is a PDF handout for group discussion.

Becoming a World Changer by Shiao Chong

To download an accompanying pdf discussion handouts suitable for a short workshop or a small group, click here: Becoming a World Changer

 

God’s Big Story and You


My fourth teaching video, God’s Big Story and You, is my attempt at giving a panoramic summary of the Bible’s grand narrative. I am trying to summarize it into a worldview story that can help us make sense of our world, and find meaning and purpose for our lives. And I am using the concept of “shalom” as the lens through which I summarize the bible’s story. May you find it helpful and encouraging.

Below the video is a PDF handout for group discussion.

God’s Big Story and You by Shiao Chong

To download an accompanying pdf discussion handouts suitable for a short workshop or a small group, click here: God’s Big Story and You

Helping Those Who Suffer


My third teaching video, Helping Those Who Suffer, focus on how, on a personal level, to be alongside people who suffer. I am not dealing here with large-scale questions of how to rid the world of evil and suffering, even though that is an important question to ponder.

But my focus here is narrow, at the level of friends helping friends face adversity or tragedy. Hence, the examples in the video are of that nature.

Below the video is a PDF handout for group discussion.

Helping Those Who Suffer by Shiao Chong

To download an accompanying pdf discussion handouts suitable for a short workshop or a small group, click here: Helping Those Who Suffer

 

Story-Making as Shalom-Making


(On October 24, 2015, I delivered this keynote address at the Christian Courier Story-maker’s Symposium, celebrating that Christian newspaper’s 70th anniversary. Give and take some spur of the moment revisions and minus introductory remarks and the power point slides, this is the presentation I gave.)

I am going to show a music video as part of my talk today. But before I do that, I am going to read three passages from the Bible. There are well known Bible passages. And then, I will give some background info so that you can appreciate the video better, then show the video. And after that, I will try and tie them all together in my talk, somehow.

Read Genesis 11:1-9; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Proverbs 14:12.

I am going to show you a music video by Sinead O’Connor. Sinead O’Connor, if you don’t know, is an Irish singer, raised Roman Catholic.

Sinead O'Connor By Pymouss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sinead O’Connor
By Pymouss (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
There are a couple of things you need to know about her in order to fully appreciate the music video I am about to show you. First is that Sinead became an international music star in 1990 when her hit song Nothing Compares to You hit No. 1 in several countries including the UK and the USA. Nothing Compares to You, which I think is still the song that most people remember Sinead for, is basically a song about a woman lamenting the departure of her lover, as nothing is the same without him in her life because, well, nothing compares to him. Its accompanying music video also became iconic, where the video comprised almost entirely of a close up of Sinead’s face as she sings the song. Remember this iconic close up shot (for the video).

A note about Sinead’s shaven head – she originally shaved it as a protest against traditional views of women, it became her trademark but also became part of her identity. She once said, “I don’t feel like me unless I have my hair shaved. So even when I’m an old lady, I’m going to have it.” [Barkham, Patrick (20 February 2007). “The Bald Truth”.The Guardian (London).]

One other thing that Sinead O’Connor is (in)famous for is her appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, where during her performance, she presented a photo of Pope John Paul II to the camera and ripped the photo to pieces and said, “Fight the real enemy.” Sinead, throughout her career, has, shall we say, a testy relationship with the church? She has often criticized organised religion although she has said before in interviews that she still considers herself a Christian. She is an outspoken feminist and had spoken against child abuse in the church.

That’s what you need to know to more fully appreciate the music video (embedded below). Continue reading “Story-Making as Shalom-Making”