Tuesday, 7 December 2021
Title: All Aboard The Final Flight?
By: Pastor Chong Cheng Cheung

“…. the time of my departure is imminent….” (2 Timothy 4:6)

“In Flanders Fields” is a poem written in 1915 by the Canadian poet, soldier, and physician John McCrae, as a memorial to those who died in a World War I battle fought at Ypres, Belgium. Amongst its many themes are the tragedy of the soldiers’ deaths, as well as questions of life, nature, and war.

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The poem is written in the voice of a group of soldiers (collectively “The Dead”) who have recently died in battle, in this same place. These deaths were untimely and tragic. The phrase “short days ago” emphasizes how recently these deaths occurred, while the warm imagery of “dawn,” “sunset,” and “love” underscores just how much “The Dead” lost when they died. This sense of death without peace continues throughout the poem’s final stanza, with restless imagery such as “failing hands” and dead that “shall not sleep.”

All of this, in the name of a cause; in this case, war. The poem stops short of saying whether the soldiers’ deaths, though noble, achieved anything enduring.

Even today, in many ways, those who leave this earth without Christ pass on “In Flanders Fields”. Because of sin, “dawn” and “sunset” have lost its warmth. Now, the spectre of senseless loss, through armed conflict or otherwise, once again looms.

How different the above scenario is for Christ’s disciple as we read a portion from one of Paul’s last epistles and what he declares as he awaits his departure. The sense of hope, of mission accomplished and of anticipation are there for all to read.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is imminent. I have fought the good fight, I have completed the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, the crown of righteousness is reserved for me, that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 6-8)

We can read the sense of hope in his words. He can think of no greater privilege and honour than to be an offering to his Lord. For some, death means a hopeless end; they do not know where they are going. For Paul, he is entering a realm of endless hope, he looks forward to departing from the physical to the spiritual; to be with the beloved Lord he has served with such devotion.

We can read the sense of completion in his words. For Paul, it has not been the 100-metre sprint where it is all over in ten seconds. But it has been the marathon – 2 plus hours of sustained, intense pressure on his heart and every muscle in his body, requiring strategy adjustments during the race and calculated stamina. The race has been mentally stressful and physically demanding. Yes, it may mean for some of you – thirty, forty, fifty or even more – years of faithful consecration. For him, it meant endurance and stickability and he could at last see the finishing line.

We can read Paul’s sense of anticipation. Given Paul’s years of dedication, persecution and suffering for the sake of the gospel, he looked forward to his glorification in accordance with God’s promises. And, of course, a well-earned rest and the Lord’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Finish your work, then rest,
Till then rest never,
Since rest for you with God
Is rest forever.
(From “Streams in the Desert” – Mrs LB Cowman)

My Prayer today

Heavenly Father and God of the universe, what is man that You are mindful of him? Yet Your roving eye scans the corners of the earth to seek the heart that would desire not to perish, as those who did, in Flanders Fields. We are grateful that You are not a punitive God, seeking first to inflict judgement. You are a loving God, seeking us as Your sheep like the Good Shepherd, to bring us back into Your fold. I pray those who hear Your voice will respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

星期二, 2021年12月7日


1915年,加拿大诗人、军人和医生约翰.麦克雷(John McCrae)写了一首诗《在法兰德斯战场》。这首诗是为了记念第一次世界大战中在比利时伊普雷斯(Ypres)战役中牺牲的人。诗中的许多主题包括士兵死亡的悲剧,以及生命、自然定律和战争的问题。




这首诗是用一群士兵(统称 “逝者” )的心声写成的,他们最近在同一个地方阵亡了。这些死亡是不合时宜和悲惨的。“数天前” 这一词强调了这些死亡事件是如何发生的,而 “曙光”、“日落” 和 “爱” 的温暖意象则强调了 “逝者” 在死亡时失去了多少。这种没有平安的死亡感觉以不安的意象如 “垂落的手” 和逝者的 “永不会安息” 贯穿了整首诗的最后一节。
即使在今天,在许多方面,那些没有基督而离开这个世界的人在 “法兰德斯战场里” 逝去了。因为罪恶,“曙光” 和 “夕阳” 失去了温暖。 现在 ,由于武装冲突或其它原因而造成的无谓损失的阴霾再次浮现。
“我现在被浇奠,我离世的时候到了。 那美好的仗我已经打过了,当跑的路我已经跑尽了,所信的道我已经守住了。从此以后,有公义的冠冕为我存留,就是按着公义审判的主到了那日要赐给我的;不但赐给我,也赐给凡爱慕他显现的人。”(提摩太后书4:6-8)
我们可以从他的话语中读到 “希望的感觉”。他想不出有什么比向主献己为祭享有更大的特权与荣誉了。对一些人而言,死亡意味着绝望的结局;他们不知道自己要往哪里去。可对保罗而言,他正在进入一个永无止境的希望境界,他期待着离开肉体进入属灵的转变;并与他至爱、殷勤侍奉的主同在。
我们可以从他的话语中读到 “完成使命感”。对保罗而言,这并非是十秒就结束的100米短跑;这是一场马拉松——他的心脏和身体的每一块肌肉都承受着2个多小时的持续操劳、剧烈的压力,需要在比赛中调整策略和计算能力。这场比赛的精神压力和体力要求都很高。是的,这可能意味着你们中间的一些人——三十年、四十年、五十年甚至更多年忠诚的奉献。对他而言,这意味着毅力和忍受力,他终于可以看到终点了。
我们可以从保罗话语中得知 “期待感”。保罗多年来为福音奉献、也因着福音的缘故遭受迫害和痛苦,他期待着按照上帝的应许得着荣耀的冠冕。当然,还有一个应得的安息与主的称赞,“做得好,忠心又良善的仆人”。
(摘自《荒漠甘泉》— LB考门夫人)