New Year's Sunday Worship at Zhejiang Church: Restart and Become Carriers of Blessings

Rev. Zhang Guoyong gave a sermon with the title "Restarting" during an online New Year's Sunday service held in Chongyi Church, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, on January 1, 2023.
Rev. Zhang Guoyong gave a sermon with the title "Restarting" during an online New Year's Sunday service held in Chongyi Church, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, on January 1, 2023. (photo: screenshot)
By Kristina RanJanuary 6th, 2023

In an online New Year's Sunday service on January 1, a pastor encouraged believers to start anew spiritually and become blessings for others.

After the choir of Chongyi Church in Hangzhou presented a song, Zhejiang Province, Pastor Zhang Guoyong gave a sermon with the title "Restarting", which was about the story of Abraham's obedience to God's call to leave his country, family, and father's house, instructing believers to "leave all weakness and lack in the past year" and receive full grace from heaven in the New Year.

At the beginning of his sermon, Pastor Zhang told believers that the situation of the pandemic would be improved in 2023, and the church would soon resume in-person gatherings. Then he asked them whether they had gotten used to the situation of stopping field meetings during the pandemic. He asked, "Have you forgotten what you said about fulfilling your mission?" He warned them not to get used to stopping gathering. When the pandemic control measures are loosened, we should start afresh on the path of pursuing the spiritual life.

He led the congregation read Genesis 11:31 to 12:5, which says that God appeared to Abram twice. On the first trip, Abram's family went from Ur to Haran, which was a failure in some way. After the death of Abram's father, God called Abram the second time, and Abram set out again from Haran for the land of Canaan where God had commanded.

Pastor Zhang points out that Abram's restart has three characteristics. First, he goes from "passive to active." "In the spiritual path, if you are passive and just being led, you may not walk to the end, don't have the ongoing strength to walk the way of the cross, and can't follow God's lead."

He compares the story of Lot with that of Zacchaeus. Lot escaped from Sodom with his family and, despite the guidance of the angels, suffered a tragedy due to his longing for prosperity in the old land. But Zacchaeus, with his inner desire, was able to overcome all difficulties to see Jesus. Pastor Zhang taught the congregation to ask the Lord to give them a heart that is willing to start anew on the spiritual path.

Pastor Zhang goes on to say that the reason Abram was able to start again in Haran was that God had called him again and led him. "There seems to be no hope. The circumstances are as hard as ever, and it seems that we should quit and live in Haran. But even if you give up, God doesn't give up. God wants us to start again in the New Year."

"God called Abram again without a word of reproach." Pastor Zhang told the congregation that they may have been weak and paused for the past few years, but God does not blame them. At the beginning of the New Year, ask God for a "willing heart." "Change from being asked to read the bible, attend the service and serve to read, attend and serve willingly."

Pastor Zhang goes on to point out that the second feature of Abram's restart is "from settlement to sojourn." Ur, the land of Abram's family, was a fertile and prosperous city in the valley of the two rivers, like cities many people want to live in today. But God called him to leave Ur, and since then Abram was doing two things, building altars (and offering sacrifices), and putting up tents, showing that his living condition changed from a settler to a sojourner. 

Pastor Zhang said, "Everyone wants to have a stable life, but we must not forget that the world is not our permanent home, and we should not focus on earthly things like the rest of the world. Though we have to work hard to live a happy life, we still need to pray for the world and make contributions. Also, Christians must not forget that we are just sojourners."

"A settler is not the same as a sojourner. Their lives are different." Pastor Zhang encouraged the congregation to follow Abraham's example and not forget their identity as a person of heaven as they set out again in the New Year. Stay away from the sins of this age, let go of the sins that haunt you, and look forward to the spiritual beauty of Canaan.

Pastor Zhang continued that the third feature of Abram's renewal is from "being blessed to be the blessing." God promised Abram's descendants great power, but "the purpose of being blessed was not only to become a great power themselves, or to receive the great name, but also to become the blessing of all nations."

He pointed out, "Let the church be the blessing of society and the time. Christians should be carriers of God's blessing in their lives, families, works, and communities."

Pastor Zhang concluded by encouraging all believers, "May God help us and bless all brothers and sisters even more in the coming year. May we also be more active in our spiritual pursuits, and more eager in our hearts, knowing that we are mere passers-by on earth. We hope that God will provide us with a spiritual and heavenly home and that we will be a blessing to many."

- Translated by Nicolas Cao

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