by Rev Sng Chong Hui
Two days ago I read about the latest iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
It boasts of a water-resistant body. No more fear of dropping it in the toilet. It has a new camera, longer battery life and more storage.
Apple calls it the newest iPhone incarnation.
“Incarnation” has been for me a special term referring to the Second Person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ who took the form of humanity to save us.
But now it seems incarnation is associated with iPhone and we are going to hear more of it in future.
Words change its meaning over time when embraced by majority of people.
Take the word, “gay.” You cannot use that word without projecting the meaning people today understand it to be.
But back in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s “gay” used to mean, “happy.” I remember singing the old nursery rhyme:
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra
How gay your life must be!
But today, “gay” has lost his original meaning. Today you cannot even sing innocently the old favorite Christmas carol, “Deck the halls” without inviting giggles and laughter.
Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la la la la, la la la!
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol
Fa la la la la, la la la la!
If you were old enough, you would remember the popular amusement park called “Gay World,” which provided affordable entertainment for Singaporeans before the days of television and shopping malls.
Over time words lose its original meaning. I hope it will never be so for “incarnation,” which holds a special meaning for the church and me. By the way, the church I serve is called, “Methodist Church of the Incarnation.”
It is because of the Incarnation we know what God is truly like. The invisible God became visible.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God became like us. The Incarnation is evidence that God understands our plight.
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).
Molokai is an island in the Hawaiian archipelago. In the late 1800’s there was an outbreak of the deadly and highly contagious disease called leprosy.
That disease affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities. Back then there was no cure for this disease.
In order to keep the disease at bay and prevent it from spreading, the government would send lepers to the island of Molokai.
In 1873, there was a young, brave Catholic priest named Father Damien who volunteered to spend his life serving the leper colony on this island.
When he arrived, he was startled to see people who were not only suffering physically but socially, emotionally, and spiritually. In the leper colony he saw extreme drunkenness, immorality, abuse, and a heavy sense of total hopelessness.
What he saw were people who desperately need to know where is God in their lives.
And so, in 1873 Father Damien lived among the 700 lepers. He knew the dangers and the inevitable result of so much personal contact with a highly contagious disease. He built hospitals, clinics, and churches and some 600 coffins.
Whenever a church service was held, he would warmly and lovingly address the lepers as “my dear brethren.”
Then one morning in 1885, at the age of 45, in a calm clear voice, instead of “my dear brethren,” he began with, “My fellow lepers, I am one of you now.”
The humble priest became one of them. He becomes for them the iChrist Incarnation. It changed their lives for all of eternity for he answered their question, “Where is God?”
Today, people are still asking, “Where is God?”
The only convincing answer you can give is when you become for them the iChrist Incarnation.