Pastoral Perspectives

“Aha!” Moment 2021

At the beginning of the year, our senior pastor Rev Lee shared at the Staff Devotion on Epiphany from Matthew 2 on the visit of the wise men. This struck a chord for me as I was pondering on what we would expect ushering into 2021. My last perspective for 2020 was the question “How is 2020 going for you?” somewhat brought the year to a closure with the acronym “K-I-S-S” – Keep It Simple and Safe”.

The Christian calendar began with Advent on the final week of November and all the way to Christmas. Epiphany began on Jan. 6, 12 nights after the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I was sharing on Wednesday during our staff devotion that Epiphany from Greek “epiphaneia”, (manifestation), is a Christian holiday commemorating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River (which is Baptism Sunday in the church calendar) and at his first miracle, at Cana in Galilee. What struck me was when the magi saw Jesus, they fell down and worshiped Him. They had brought precious gifts with them for the child, who they recognized as a king appointed not by people or family name, but by God. They had an epiphany, or a sudden insight into the true nature of something. They realized that they were in the presence of God.

The birth of Christ represents the introduction of God’s Spirit into human form, or incarnate. And this incarnation of God, the man Jesus Christ, had arrived for the sake of all people. During this period of pandemic, it seems difficult for many to be able to see God in the every day happenings. The theologians call this the Epiphany moment or lay people say “Aha!” moment.

The pandemic has been a painful but helpful opportunity to do some clean-up , minor touch-up and ultimately retrofitting to a future church environment. How excited are we to want to return to gather as God’s people to worship together? Are we looking forward to the “Aha!” moments through singing in our hearts, silently verbalizing our worship to the glory of God irrespective if we’re masked up or not? Soon we will be preaching through the book of Ezra and we will get to discover how the Israelites most of whom would have been born in Babylon to return to Jerusalem after 70 years in captivity. How empty their lives must have been in Babylon, without altar, without sacrifices for their God, and without worship. It is interesting that the first thing the returned remnant did was to rebuild the altar. (Ezra 3:2) This is a feature of revival, and God wants to restore this today to anyone who has lost the privilege of worship.

“The scene of rejoicing in Ezra 3 gives a small glimpse of what God’s people lost in Eden and what is restored to God’s people in Christ: the joy of living in His presence as His people. The loud elaborate celebration simply for a completed foundation offers just a faint hint of the heavenly celebrations of the redeemed around the throne of the lamb (Rev.5:8-14).”  (

At this time of the year, life can seem a little lonely or dreary. The Phase 3 of safe opening have just begun, church is re-opening for 250 pax on-site worship and the New Year has come and will soon be gone. You already may have broken a resolution. But the “Aha!” moment of 2021 isn’t over yet because we can choose to recognize the mercy of God in the everyday stuff. With open hearts and expectant outlook, believers can have epiphany moments any day.

It was EM Bounds who said: “What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans but men – men of prayer.”  Ezra ends in chapter 10 with a great congregation assembled with him. We, Christians also need to realize that we are part of a group, not just individuals. As believers, we belong to the whole body of Christ, and also belong to a local church. As part of a group, we participate in the actions of the group—and the consequences of the group’s actions — even though we may not personally approve of those actions.

God’s work cannot be done by people who mix with the world. The church has been ‘called out’ (‘ecclesia’). Until today, the Lord is pleased with those who put Him first, who ‘keep his word’ and ‘do not deny His name’ (Rev. 3: 8). He does not want a mixture of things that have nothing in common (2 Cor. 6:14-18), whether in marriage or otherwise. We heard of these in the recent moral issues of celebrity preachers like Joshua Harris and Ravi Zacharias. Dr. Corne Bekker, Dean of the School of Divinity at Regent University, shared. “The glorious thing about the Christian faith is that it’s not located in a human person. It’s located in the faithfulness of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Saviour. So I would say to them, ‘Hold on to the scriptures. Hold on to Christ. Your foundation is firm.’”  See sermon on How John Piper Processes the Moral Failures of His Historical Heroes. (

Our Christian lives are like on-the-job training; we are learning how to handle problems and trials as they surface. We must be humbling ourselves daily in prayer and occasionally in fasting, placing total faith in God for protection, guidance and providence for ourselves and our families. I trust that all of us will in our everyday experiences amidst the pandemic, discover and rediscover the “Aha!” moments like the wise men who would gaze up in the sky to find the star directing them to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Rev Tan Cheng Huat (Non-resident Missionary to SQ)

January 31, 2021