Reflection: July 8: Sent Out in Jesus’ Name

July 8, 2018 Reflection

Mark 6:1-13/ 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Sent Out in Jesus’ Name

I hope you don’t think I watch TV too much because I’m going to start with another story from a TV show. Call the Midwife is one of the two TV shows I am currently watching. It’s a show about midwifes in a poor neighbourhood in London during the late 50’s and early 60’s, and the many women who give birth helped by these midwives. In an episode I watched two weeks ago, there was young woman named Roseanne who is married to a man who loves her with all his heart and treats her like a queen. She gives birth to a girl, but something is not right with the young mother. While she’s in labour, she resists the nurse’s instruction and the birth itself. After the birth, she leaves that baby outside a shop owned by a nice lady. At this point, we all think maybe she is suffering post-partem depression. But then it turns out that she used to be a prostitute and she doesn’t believe she is good enough for her new life. She leaves a note for her husband, leaves the baby at home, and runs away. She goes to her old friend who is still soliciting for a living while raising her children. more —>

Reflection: July 1: Healing of the Nation, Grieving of the Past

July 1, 2018 Reflection (Canada Day)

Mark 5:21-43/ 1 Samuel 1:17-27

Healing of the Nation, Grieving of the Past

Recently, I discovered a new TV show on Netflix. It’s called “An Hour to Save Your Life.” It is a British documentary series of emergency medical staff, both paramedics on the site and the doctors and nurses in the hospital trauma centre who try to save the lives of trauma patients. The title is “An Hour to Save Your Life” because for trauma patients, the first 60 minutes are crucial to whether they will survive or die. It is more captivating than fictional medical dramas because these are real medical professionals trying to save real people. Every episode shows three patients fighting to survive. Some survive and make full recovery, some survive but with some permanent damages in their body such as partial hearing loss, and some don’t survive at all even after the medical effort that looks pretty much like a battle scene. This procedure of trying to save a trauma patient’s life is utter chaos like in a war; it’s a life and death situation, and there is fear, desperation, mustering up of hope, tears, and one can easily imagine, desperate prayers. It is highly emotional. more —>

Reflection: June 10: Ambassadors of Christ

June 10, 2018 sermon 

Isaiah 43:18-21/ 2 Corinthians 4:7-15, 5:17-20

Ambassadors of Christ

Last Sunday at the BC Conference meeting in Penticton, we had a celebration of ministry service, which happens at every conference meeting. Seven candidates were ordained and four were admitted from other denominations, including yours truly. There were a lot of emotions floating around. Our BC Conference president got choked up while ordaining our new ministers and had to pause once in a while. We received gifts from the BC Conference, our children, and from the UCW. One of my colleagues who got ordained, Ingrid, received the children’s gifts from her own two children; everyone cried when they came to the stage. Then there were crying mothers proud of their daughters getting ordained. One mother started crying at 8 o’ clock in the morning at a Star Bucks coffee shop. After the ordination ceremony, I was paired up with Ingrid to serve the Holy Communion. Her mother came up to us to receive the communion, sobbing violently and calling her daughter “reverend” for the first time, making both of us cry. Oh mothers, what would we do without you? And when I say “mothers”, I would like to include anyone who cares for us and “mother” us, men or women, people with or without children. As I am officially admitted into the United Church of Canada, I salute the mothers without whom neither us pastors nor our church would exist.  more —>

Reflection: May 27: God Who Lives in Community

May 27, 2018 sermon (Trinity Sunday)

John 3:1-17/ Isaiah 6:1-8/ Romans 8:12-17

God Who Lives in Community

Since I have taught little children in my former life, I have a mentality of asking myself, how I can help someone understand a certain concept. One week, while preparing for a Bible story, I asked Daniel, “Does Aiden know what death is?” I wasn’t sure if preschool children understand death and dying. This struggle is more prominent in teaching children at church than at school. I think school curriculum is designed to be appropriate for the children’s different developmental stages, but at church, the Bible stories are the same. Yes, some Bibles stories are not appropriate for children, so we might leave them out altogether; but how do we, for example, explain the concept of Trinity; God in three persons? I explain to children that their moms and dads play different roles in different places and with different people but are the same people. One person can be a mom, wife, friend, engineer, and employee. But it’s not only with children; for example, when I was in Kenya, I had to use different anecdotes in my sermons because maybe my other ones are not culturally relatable to the Kenyan Christians. more —>

Reflection: May 20: Then You Will Know That I Am The Lord

May 20, 2018 sermon (Pentecost Sunday)

Acts 2:1-21/ Ezekiel 37:1-14

Then You Will Know That I Am the Lord

Do you remember how recently I have mentioned more than once that the Christian love that God expects of us is seemingly humanly impossible? Yet the author of 1 John says it is not a burden. How can we acquire this power, this ability? When I think of the high standards of the Christian love God expects of us, I think of the story of Corrie ten Boom during the Second World War and the story of a Korean pastor who lived during the Korean War. Corrie was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who got imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for helping Jewish people escape the Holocaust. After the war, she released a book telling her story and gave speeches. There is an anecdote of one such speech; as a Christian, as she was sharing her stories, she preached forgiveness. She then noticed in the crowd her former prison guard who abused and tortured her. Her bad memories, pain, and anger came back. But she had been preaching forgiveness, so how could she not forgive this man? How could she possibly and humanly forgive the man who tortured her? The man had repented his evil after the war and became a new person. He wanted to ask for Corrie’s forgiveness. After the speech, while this man was walking down the aisle to get to Corrie, Corrie was earnestly praying to God to give her the strength and courage to forgive him. During the short time this man was walking down the aisle, Corrie was able to forgive him. How could this be? Is she a superhero? more —>

Reflection: May 13: The Final Countdown

May 13, 2018 sermon (Christian Family Sunday)

John 17:6-19 

The Final Countdown

When I was pursuing my theological studies in New Jersey and working as a student pastor, my theological school dean’s husband David came to my church as an interim pastor. One day I found out that David much prefers to do a funeral than a wedding. I was younger and had no experience doing weddings or funerals, so I couldn’t understand why he would prefer funerals. Now that I am a parish minister and do quite a bit of funerals, I started to appreciate them. Especially, the two funerals I have done recently made me appreciate the process of preparing for and doing a funeral, and I thought of David. Now I think I can understand him. more —>

Reflection: May 6: Discipleship: Love in Action

May 6, 2018 sermon 

John 15:9-17/ 1 John 5:1-6 

Discipleship: Love in Action

I have been moving around a lot both as a child with my family and as an adult, so making friends was not always easy. You might befriend someone and thought they were friends, but they might turn out to be not so serious about their relationship with you. In French, there are two words for “friend”; one is copain, which indicates a friend that you hang out with but your relationship is rather shallow. Then there is ami, which is a true friend with whom you share a deeper relationship. After I came to Montreal 6 years ago, I met some friends who turned out to be amis, and some who turned out to be copains. My friends Mike and Konstantine especially became true pals; Mike was one of the friends who came to Kimberley to get married. I knew they were true friends because they were there for me when I was going through difficulties. For example, when I was heartbroken, Mike was the first person I thought of and called, and he canceled his appointment to come to me. I knew both of them were true pals because they were there for me when I needed them. If someone calls themselves your friend and ignores you when you need them, you will know that they are not really friends. more —>

Reflection: April 8: Like a Child

April 8, 2018 sermon (Holy Humour Sunday)

Matthew 18:1-5/ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

Like a Child

I told my wife that she was drawing her eyebrows too high. She looked surprised. Working in a mirror factory is something I can totally see myself doing. A Roman legionnaire walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says, “Five beers, please.” My wife accused me of being immature. I told her to get out of my fort. I tried to catch a fog yesterday. Mist. When I was little, my parents used to always pretend that food was an airplane. They made me wait for it for hours. Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Of course, a house can’t jump at all! “Anton, do you think I’m a bad mother?” “Mom, my name is Paul.” My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad that finally I had to take his bike away. more —>

Reflection: April 1: Do Not Be Afraid

Sermon April 1, 2018 (Easter Sunday)

Mark 16:1-8

Do Not Be Afraid

Do you like gardening or keeping potted plants? Unfortunately, I grew up not appreciating it. Whenever my mother asked me, “Did you see how my flowers bloomed?” I would go, “Huh? What flowers?” She was disappointed that I didn’t pay attention to her plants. But since I moved to Kimberley, I discovered the joy of keeping plants and seeing them prosper. I also experienced my plants almost die and then come back to life. It was an exhilarating experience. But what about people? Have you seen a sick person’s colourless face come back alive? How about someone who hit rock bottom, then bounced back? Now they look healthier and happier.  If you stop and think about it, this kind of “coming back to life” moments happen more often than not. And sometimes, even someone who has been dead for a little while can be brought back to life, although maybe not for several days later. more —>

Reflection: March 25: Take up your cross with the Prince of Peace

Sermon March 25, 2018 (Palm/ Passion Sunday)

Mark 11:1-15:41

Take Up Your Cross with the Prince of Peace

When I was reading and meditating on the stories of Jesus’ last days, I remembered a TV show episode where a boy named Will from a tough neighborhood, who was sent to live with his rich relatives after getting into a fight, comes back to his old neighborhood to visit after several years, and discovers that he has a reputation for being a “chicken boy” who ran away from a fight. To recover from that reputation, he prepares himself to confront the same tough boy. But now the tough boy has changed and matured and doesn’t want to fight. Will asks him, “What about your reputation, man?” The former tough boy points at the group of young boys who are with him and says, “See those guys over there? They are my reputation.” He leaves with his friends with mature dignity, and Will is left alone in the playground feeling stupid. I think it takes more courage to refuse to fight. more —>