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Life in The Second Place

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Jesus in Matthew 5:16

You may have come across the term Third Place. In sociology, it refers to the social surroundings that are separate from the two usual social environments of home ("first place") and the workplace ("second place"). Examples of third places include churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, gyms, bookstores and parks.

In fact, it was my fascination of a third place that drove me to eventually set up a cafe when I was serving in the Cathedral. I dreamt of a place in church where people can freely drop in during weekdays. A cafe in this way enhances the ministry of the church, which is also a "third place" herself. This is one reason why church cafes are so common in many churches round the world. At the right time, we pray that a cafe can be established in MPCC.

This sermon series will however look at the Second Place. This is one place where Christians go "into the world" to work or do their business. It involves daily interaction with people of all "creed, race and religion." This place consumes the most of our time and energy. And if this is so huge in most of our lives, surely our work should matter to God.

It is also a place where witness and ministry opportunities abound. Our excellence in work in terms of our skills and character is a quiet witness in itself. And when we start showing care and share about Christ, there will be ready and respectful listening.

As for me, I am familiar of course with the first and third places but less familiar with the second except for the church environment. I did work short stints in a durian plantation clearing weed, as a roadside fruit seller helping my Dad to clear his surplus stock and at a Nissan office tabulating data. Thats about it.

That is not to say that my work as a clergy has not been an exciting one. Apart from the core work of pastoring and preaching, I have had many rich opportunities to serve in areas outside of the local church in a variety of ways. Those experiences have been very enriching.

Now, each of you will have a fascinating story to tell, whatever your occupations may be. We will get to hear some of these stories in the coming week. Some in our midst are being prepared (i.e students) to enter the second place. I am sure you will be listening and observing intently to those who have gone before you.

Talking about work, we should take this opportunity to thank Joy He for her sterling work in Communications and Design for MPCC this past two years. Her attitude, commitment and sense of excellence has quietly been a blessing to her life and work of the church. Thank you, Joy. Now that Eliza is back from TTC, she will be taking over this work.

I end with this Pauline reminder in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him"


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