Reaching Out

Reaching Out

Bible Reading: Luke 15:1-10; Luke 19:1-10

Preachers: Phil Swain and John Myeongcheol

On Thursday we had the retired minister’s annual worship service and lunch here.  The moderator Rev Simon Hansford was preaching on the passage from Isaiah “Come to the water” and how Jesus reaches out to us and invites us to find peace and renewal and life in him. 

As part of his talk he mentioned a scary statistic.  We used to message how many people in society “regularly” came to church … but then there was much debate about what was a “regular” member.  once a week? once a month?  And so now they use the statistic of the number of people in Australia who have no connection to a church.  Want to guess what that percentage is …  82%.  4 out of 5 Australians have no connection to any church.  No wonder Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

But it is hard to get people to want to check out our church, isn’t it?  When was the last time that you invited someone to come to worship, or to a church event? We are scared that people will get offended, or react negatively, or be indifferent.  We worry that by bringing up religion because it might ruin the relationship. 

Evangelism is not something we talk a lot about in the church nowadays.  But if we look at the Easter narrative – Jesus tells many stories and parables about reaching out (such as the lost sheep and lost coin) and shows in his own actions how he reaches out to people like Zacchaeus.  The heart of the Easter Good News is God reaching out to us through Jesus.  So today, that is what we are looking at … what does it mean for us to reach out to others? 

And to help us do that, I have invited our new student minister, John Myeongcheol to come and share some of his insights into our bible passages and experiences of reaching out.

John Myeongcheol Oh

Good morning everyone. God bless you all.

My name is John and Myeongcheol Oh,  You might be curious as to what myeongcheol means?

It was my father’s joy to call me myeongcheol. The name means the beginning of wisdom. As we know wisdom is a topic often referred to in the bible, especially in Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. This is the meaning of my name. 

I have prepared a brief introduction video which I thought rather than explain more about myself, it would be a good way of introducing myself. 

Video duration 2:20

  • Family
  • Life story
  • POD formation
  • Home church and Mentors (meet another spiritual father Phil) 
  • Personal evaluation last 3 years (Diagram)
  • My favourite Basis of Union (Gift and Ecumenical)
  • Gifts – Uniting church sustains the exercise by men and women of the gifts God bestows upon them for the mission of the church.
  • Ecumenical – Uniting Church lives and works within the faith and unity of the one holy Catholic and Apostolic church. We are working together and seeking union with other churches.
  • End

I see this journey of ministry formation as a process that will help me develop into the role of Minister of the Word, being able to be as a facilitator for the church and God’s people. This year, I pray that I may be able to learn and share with you in fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today’s bible passages show the parables the lost sheep’s restoration, and woman’s lost silver coin which is a drachma about same values as a denarius a day’s wages for an unskilled worker in other words, and Zacchaeus “wee little man” ’s value of the salvation. It shows in mainly we can find in terms of the evangelism message.

We see all of these texts are interestingly chained each other into the kingdom of God. It shows why God chose to take on flesh and enter the world, as God reached out to us. However, in order to reveal the kingdom of God, Luke’s gospel challenges us the definition of the sin through the parables that Pharisees and scribes and Zacchaeus.

In Palestinian Judaism they follow scriptural heritage that is some complicated perspective because the “sin” and “sinner” were freighted terms within Jewish sectarianism and were deployed in order to denounce or exclude persons for behaviour that did not meet the perceived norms of certain Jewish factions.

Pharisees and Scribes view is nothing wrong in their definition. Their designation of who was a sinner depended on tradition, theology and their social and cultural context. It can be seen as natural that grumbling the fellowship of Jesus table with sinners in Pharisees and Scribes perspective.

Nevertheless, the kingdom of God which is Jesus Christ is always challenging people both of them Pharisees and scribes even tax collector and sinners and you and me as well.

Jesus invites everyone to over in his table. And Jesus interaction with people, he is healing them, dining with them, and pronouncing the forgiveness of their sins demonstrates how the kingdom’s arrival impacts Israelites in the present. This is the reconciliation and restoration of the Jesus ministry and true image of God.

While I was living in South Korea, I was a member of the military police and worked as a lay chaplain in the air force for a period of 4 years. I also completed studies in the field of Christian Education at the Presbyterian Theological College. In my free time I led a dance missionary group known as “Jesus Freak”.

One story I want to share with you, before I was a theological student,  I was praying at night time at the church, I prayed like this, “God, help me I want to be your savant, I want to be a minister because I want to share your love to the people how much you loved the world.” And I continued to pray that “God I will not dance anymore because ministers are not dancing in the church. I will always to read the bible and praying and serve your church and your people forever.” 

You know, I was lost Jesus Christ that salvation, I was stuck in my tradition like a Pharisees and Scribes even I realized that I believed in God, but I didn’t know what God wanted me to live for my life.

While I was keep praying, God came to me and told me that like this, “my son Myeongcheol, I always with you, I know you love dance and you wanted to dance for yourself and shown to the people, but I want to ask you myeongcheol, if you love me would you please to dance for me? You can dance for me like King David.

After that in the college, I had invited 14 dancers, the purpose of the dance ministry was evangelism. I had trained all members technics and performance. Especially, we prayed a lot of time in every meeting. In the vacation seasons, we had planned to visit the many churches and rural areas and overseas. We had performed in the street, park, college and the church. We taught dance for local young people. Of course we were spreading the gospel.   

It was a clear restoration and reconciliation, of course, it was good news from God. My Christian faith as traditional thinking was consistently changed and starched out and reaching out by the sharing of Jesus table.

Luke’s gospel as today’s passage consistently present an inversion of values and expectations as the social outcasts are granted privileged status on the Jesus table.

In today’s Bible passage tells us that meaning of ‘lost’ in Jesus ministry, if there are ‘lost’ like the sheep and the silver coin, they are not really outsiders or sinner, however just temporarily misplaced on it. God reconciliation about people, Jesus Christ, He is the restoration of misplaced ones through repentance rather than the exclusion of sinners from the community. No matter who you are, where are you from, and there is no issue what you define who you are,  Jesus Christ invites everyone to his salvation table.

Ancient proverb quotes, doctors help the sick, not the healthy. Jesus comes for a ministry of restoration, reconciliation, and repentance for these sinners.

Ironically, we have to question ourselves who is the sinner between Pharisees and scribes and tax collector Zacchaeus?   

The European reformer Martin Luther said, the Christian is, at the same time, wholly (totus) a sinner, who deserves God’s temporal and eternal punishment, and wholly (totus) righteous. Rom 8:1-2

When Zacchaeus was confronted to Jesus, there was already started the kingdom of God because Jesus himself is God, and kingdom of God. When Jesus in the Zacchaeus house, Zacchaeus repented “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” It shows the value of the salvation.

And Luke’s gospel expands eschatological salvation through Zacchaeus faith, the unconditional and unfailing discipleship in complete dependence on God’s providential care is understood to be the precondition for participation in eschatological life. Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 

There are models of discipleship in their faith, repentance, remorse, attitude toward riches, and commitment to the kingdom of God in Luke’s passages today. Especially, evangelism that reflection of our Christian faith is an invitation of Jesus to his table that reaching out to the people and transformation of our cognition.  Jesus makes us repent that is restoration of our life image to the true image of God.

To the people of God at Turramurra Uniting Church, we gratitude God for his invitation to the table of salvation. There is hope, faith and love. Today we are following Jesus Christ who is facing to Cross again. For the glory of God, we all are seeking the lost one as image of God. The holy spirit will instruct us how reaching out to the lost one. God uses us like a garden spring, billabong, cloud, raining, thunder, rainbow ocean and wind. Amen. 

Thanks John.  I said last week that Lent is not something that the church can do on your behalf, you need to do it yourself.  It is the same with reaching out.  This is something that we all need to be doing. 

I just wanted to wrap this up by sharing about a significant opportunity that we have coming up to participate in reaching out to others – ALPHA and YouthALPHA.

These courses have been completely redesigned and cover great topics about life and faith and the difference that Jesus can make.  For a couple of months now, Peter Mclean has been encouraging us to invite our friends or colleagues or neighbours to consider coming along to ALPHA.  I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty … but have we?  Have we been thinking about people to invite?

As a church we rated this as the number 2 mission idea that we wanted to do.  There was great energy to have an alpha course here.  But Alpha doesn’t work unless we are reaching out to people and inviting them.

So … as the challenge for today, I want you consider – is three things…

1. Can we think of 3 people that we have a connection with that might not know Jesus?  Challenge to start to pray that they might become open to exploring faith.  Can we pray for them each day for the next 2 weeks…

2. Consider being part of the ALPHA program.

Particularly … ALPHA training on 6th April.

3. Invite someone to ALPHA… Be part of ALPHA…


Session #1—“Is There More to Life Than This?”

Monday 6th May

Phil & Marion’s Place

39 Clissold Rd, Wahroonga.

6:30-9pm (dinner included)


Session #1—“Is There More to Life Than This?”

Sunday 11th May

Jacaranda Room, TUC


(includes extensive snacks)

Finish with the story from 1 Kings 7:3-11

The Israelites in real trouble.  They were trapped in Samaria under siege by the Aramites.  Food had run out and they were starving to death.

The story with has an interesting characters…  four leapers.  They were stuck outside the city gate.  They said, “This is hopeless.  If we stay here we die.  If we go out there, we get killed by the Aramites.  Oh well, we might as well get this over and done with” and off they go towards the enemy camp ready to be killed.

They get there and find that all the tents, food, treasure and animals were there, but no soldiers.  You can read in the bible reading God had scared them off in the night and these four leapers find a literal goldmine.  It is like one of those lavish rewards in survivor.  They start pigging out on all this food.  In between bites they are stuffing their pockets with treasure.  They are enjoying this amazing situation they found themselves in when one of them stops mid-bite and says …  “This is not right.  This is good news and we are keeping to ourselves.”

I think we need to remember the amazing thing that we have found in Jesus. 

It is my dream that this congregation will in 3 months time being hearing stories of people discovering the love of God and accepting Jesus and may we be celebrating like the shepherd or the lady who found what was lost.  May that dream come true soon, to the glory of God.  Amen.