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Arnold Chew Memorial Service

May 16, 2019, 10:30 AM, Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, CA

Welcome

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

I welcome you here this morning on behalf of Gina, Kyle, Ryan Chew and their extended family to celebrate the life of our friend, Arnold Chew who was born on July 25, 1945 and returned to the Lord on April 20, 2019. Your presence is greatly appreciated by the family to honor a friend whom we cherished and loved. And we hope that you would be blessed by hearing the ways God has touched Arnold Chew’s life as a reminder that God is with you as well.

Let us pray. In this solemn hour of worship, O God, help us to believe with all our hearts the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. To believe in the resurrection means that anyone who dies will live and will never die for Arnold Chew is now with the Lord. Let your Spirit empower our time today, so that our faith in the Lord’s promise of life may emerge stronger than ever. Let our stories, our prayers, our hearing of your Word proclaim our faith in Christ who is indeed the resurrection and the life. We pray all of this in his glorious name, Amen.

Believing Is Seeing

People who have the good fortune or blessings to live into adulthood have worked many years at a job, grew a family and built up a reputation to be known. They are the stuff that fills up a resume or are used for an introduction to a gathered audience. We see in Arnold Chew’s biography such accomplishments.

As human beings, we like to be remembered. These may be the achievements in school or at one’s job. Others like to be remembered by the service performed for others. Still others may seek to create a legacy that numerous generations would revere. Today, we ask ourselves what defines us and how would we like to be remembered. How would we like to be recognized in history?

We all have seen a street artist with pen in hand drawing a likeness or a caricature of the person seated. The image is what the artist perceives as the features that define the person. Sometimes the caricature exaggerates a certain part of the person because from the perspective of the artist this is what stands out. For me, the artist may just see my moustache!

Today we remember Arnold Chew who was blind for only the past 19 years of his life but before, for 54 years, he was able to see like you and me. Blessed with five senses, our sight is very important to living a full and productive life. We often say, “Seeing is believing.”

In the Bible we refer to the disciple Thomas, “Doubting Thomas” because when he missed meeting the risen Lord, Thomas said he couldn’t believe in the resurrection until he was able to see the Lord. Christ came back to Thomas and let him not only see but also touch the wounds on Jesus’ body. For Thomas, seeing is believing.

For 54 years, Arnold worked as a computer engineer at IBM getting paid to take things apart. When he saw co-workers, he would jest and joke with them with the hope that they would kid him back. When he coached his sons, Kyle and Ryan in little league, he saw strikes and balls. When he coached soccer, he saw offside fouls and cheered when the ball went into the goal. Traveling around the world he saw historic, scenic, and enchanting places to add to his already head full of knowledge. Arnold was one of those few people to go to if you have a question about anything under the sun. He always had a convincing answer for you to believe.

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By now we have heard that Arnold had wit. For a very small letter word, wit means having powerful reasoning, intellectual powers, wisdom, and the ability to make clever, ironic or satirical remarks. Being witty is to perceive the incongruous and to express it, in quick, sharp, spontaneous, and often sarcastic remarks that delight or entertain. Wit describes Arnold precisely. We have all been in his presence when he would share something that is profound, true and entertaining.

Arnold’s wit was seen by his coworkers to put things in appropriate perspectives or to bring calmness in chaos or just to bring a bit of humor to persevere in order to survive another workday. 

When he served as board president with the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Arnold’s wit must have made the board meetings fun and productive.

When Arnold attended the fellowship groups at First Chinese Baptist Church, he would ask you to introduce yourself to him so that he wouldn’t miss acknowledging your presence. Then he would give one of his sly smiles like the one on the bulletin picture and ask how you are doing because he was sincerely interested. We were then ready to hear one of his witty comments.

In the Bible, there are many incidents of people who are blind. There’s the man in Bethsaida who saw people like walking trees when he was healed. There was the beggar Bartimaeus who asked Jesus that he wanted to see again. And when the Pharisees and the Sadducees wouldn’t believe in Jesus, we called that spiritual blindness.

And in John 9, there is a story about a man who was born blind. When Jesus saw this man, his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (9:1-5)

We often say, “Seeing is believing,” but it is also true to say that “Believing is seeing.”

Arnold Chew believed that God created him for a very special purpose that not everyone can do. Surviving multiple health challenges, he demonstrated to us that you make lemonade out of lemons. Playing catch with his grand nieces and nephews, he amplified and used his other senses to catch a ball. As a foodie, he believed that he could still cook up a delicious meal for Gina and his family on the barbecue grill and in the Instant Pot.

Arnold believed in himself that led him to see that he is fiercely independent, taking his walks around the neighborhood and meeting his new neighbors. He believed in his family and saw to it that they are loved and cared for even when he is no longer here.

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No one wants to be blind or visually impaired. Arnold did not either. But the way Arnold lived in the past 19 years when he lost the ability to see in order to believe, he received the significant ability to believe and therefore he saw.

God did not cause Arnold to be legally blind. Neither Arnold nor his parents sinned that caused him to lose his sight. But when it happened to him like any of the many awful things that can happen to anyone of us, we accept these realities and you play the cards that you were dealt.

And in so doing, life continues to be rich and good and beautiful and meaningful because when we believe in a loving God, we see blessings all around.

What defines you? How would you like to be remembered? How would you like to be recognized in history? For Arnold Chew, we won’t remember Arnold as one who is blind but a child God who believed in doing good, loving his family and friends, and trusting God that for whatever happens, it’s going to be okay. And in the end, Arnold Chew was able to see the beauty and majesty of God in his life and in all of you and in the world.

Amen.

Announcements

Please note in the bulletin that if you wish to make a contribution in the name of Arnold Chew, you may do so to the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and/or to the First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco.

After you have come forward to pay your respects to the Gina and her family, upon exiting you will receive the traditional white and red envelopes. The white envelope with a piece of candy inside symbolizes that inasmuch that you have attended a bittersweet occasion; the family wishes you sweetness in your life. The red envelope contains a coin to represent that from this day forward you will be happy and prosperous in every way.

You are invited to attend a memorial luncheon at the Pacific Lighthouse Restaurant in Alameda when you would have an opportunity to fellowship and to continue sharing stories and memories of our friend Arnold Chew. Gina and her family look forward to seeing you there.

Benediction

I challenge you now, beloved in the Lord, to face bravely the journey that our friend, Arnold Chew, has completed, having arrived safely in God’s kingdom.

Journey on, without the fear of failing, without the pretense about your true state as a sinner in need of God’s saving grace.

Journey on, with tender memories of Arnold Chew and so many others who have gone before you, secure in the hope that, when your time comes, the love of God will be sufficient for you, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.  (Jude 24:25)

Go in peace.

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