By Ps Tan Hui Ru
Tomorrow is Singapore’s 56th National Day, and for the first time in 56 years, we will not be watching the National Day Parade (NDP) on 9 August itself. It feels really odd to me because as a child, I looked forward to National Day with a passion. Before NDP tickets changed to being balloted, a yearly routine my maternal extended family had was to queue up overnight for the tickets. So having National Day without NDP feels oddly empty to me.
That got me thinking about the role of NDP in our citizenship formation. In its current form, NDP starts with a parade segment before moving to a show segment which often narrates either Singapore’s history or recent events (remember the one with terrorist attacks?) with an exhortation to the nation that “we can do this together!” It’s our yearly reminder, so to speak, about what it means to be a Singaporean.
But this is not our permanent home, and our citizenship is not here ultimately. Philippians 3:20 reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven, and we await our Saviour who is in heaven. We have another identity, one that grounds our identity as Singaporeans (or Malaysians, Indonesians, Americans etc.). If we have a yearly reminder of what it means to be Singaporean, and daily reminders of our citizenship on earth, then how do we also remind ourselves regularly of what it means to be Christian, and how do we remind each other of our common identity as disciples of Christ and children of God? This is why it is so important for us to worship together as one Body of Christ, week after week. This is why it is so important for us to study God’s Word together in our small groups. This is why it is so important for us to pray together, laugh together, play together, serve the church and the world together. These activities all remind us of our true citizenship, one that is in heaven and not on earth.
Our true home is in heaven. So this year, when you hear the words “this is home, truly, where I know I must be, where my dreams wait for me, where that river always flows” – remember that the home we have is heaven, that is where we know we must be, that is where our true dreams are, and that is where the River of Life is.