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 —>

Reflection: March 18: Fallen Grain of Wheat

Sermon March 18, 2018

John 12:20-33

Fallen Grain of Wheat

When I was much younger, I had a beautiful little book Hope for the Flowers. It’s one of those nice fairy tales for adults like The Giving Tree. Hope for the Flowers, in case you are not familiar with it, is a story of a caterpillar named Stripe who thinks there should be more to life than just eating. He discovers a pillar made of hundreds of caterpillars trying to reach the sky. He joins in to see what’s in the sky, not knowing that he has the destiny of becoming a butterfly. Some caterpillars fall from the pillar and die, having chased the wrong dream. In the end, thanks to his mate called Yellow, Stripe figures out his destiny and makes a scary journey into his cocoon. He learns that he has to go through death to be reborn as a butterfly. It has a happy ending with Stripe and Yellow reuniting as butterflies.  more —>

Reflection: March 11: Did You Say Salvation?

Sermon March 11, 2018

John 3:14-21/ Ephesians 2:1-10 

Did You Say Salvation?

Today, we will start by uttering a word that we probably haven’t uttered in a long time; salvation. How comfortable are you at hearing or uttering the words ‘sin’, ‘salvation’, or ‘damnation’? If any of you have experienced the religious environment similar to mine, those words will come to you with a bit of a negative feeling. I grew up seeing people in the streets wearing a big sign that said “Jesus, heaven; non-belief, hell” and pronouncing eternal damnation on those who do not believe in Jesus. more —>

Reflection: March 4: Cleansing of the Temple, Cleansing of the Spirit

Sermon March 4, 2018

John 2:13-22/ 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 

Cleansing of the Temple, Cleansing of the Spirit

Have you been to Israel and visited some of the biblical places? I am sure a lot of Christians around the world go to the biblical sites with similar anticipation and excitement, but as a child who grew up listening to the stories of Jesus everywhere, from church to my own bedroom with the bedtime Bible story books, I was excited to see some of the places with my own eyes. I was most excited about going to Galilee because that is where it started with Jesus and his first disciples. Galilee was indeed my favourite place of them all. My experience in Jerusalem was quite different. Having learned to pray from both Catholic and Protestant traditions, every year during Lent, I do the Stations of the Cross meditation mostly from Catholic websites, although last year, I went to Radium behind the Catholic Church where they have stations of the cross set up. more —>

Reflection: Feb 23: Covenant. Faith. Commitment,

Sermon Feb. 25, 2018

Mark 8:31-38

Covenant. Promise. Faith. Commitment.

Whenever I read the gospel text where Jesus says, “Deny your self, pick up your cross, and follow me”, the martyrs of the first century comes to my mind. Of course, the Roman Empire’s Christian martyrs were not the only martyrs in history, but what we can see in this period is pure madness. They not only bravely stood in front of the lions but actively desired to be martyred; they believed that being brutally martyred was a shortcut to heaven. There is a Christian sacred place in South Korea, where I once visited with my youth group when I was a leader. It is a hill called “decapitation mountain” because a lot of early Korean Christians were decapitated there for professing their faith in Jesus Christ. They were brought one by one and were asked, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” If they said “yes”, off with their heads! The story says, the river flowing under that hill became red from their blood. I find these martyrs both curious and fascinating. We surely can’t understand what it’s like to profess one’s faith during times of religious persecutions. more —>