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 —>

Reflection: Feb 18. Journey of Transformation

Sermon Feb. 18, 2018

Mark 1:9-15

Journey for the Kingdom: Journey of Transformation

Have you ever watched a movie where the main characters go on a road trip, whether it was a planned trip or it happened by accident? I’ve watched some road trip movies. Usually as the result of being thrown into road trips, at the end of the movie, the characters learn a lesson and change for the better, although I don’t think all road trip movies are meant to result in transformation. Hear this one story, for example. When Charlie finds out that his estranged father died and left his expensive estate to his other son of which Charlie is unaware, he follows the clues and finds Raymond in a mental institution. Being angry at his father, Charlie kidnaps Ray and tries to get half of the estate by negotiating Ray’s return. When that doesn’t work, he tries to gain custody of his disabled brother to assume control over his inheritance. Unwittingly, the two brothers are thrown on the road with a lot of different events happening that prolong their trip. During this trip, the selfish Charlie learns about their childhood and starts to love his brother. At the end of this journey, Charlie truly gains a brother and abandons his greed. The end. This is what road trip movies are about; the travelers changing for the better. more —>

Reflection: Feb 11: There comes a time…

Sermon Feb 11, 2018

Mark 9:2-8/ 2 Kings 2:1-12

There Comes a Time…

Last week (or is it two weeks ago now) I went to Surrey for my final admissions interview with the United Church of Canada. I prepared for it by filling out forms, writing essays, and with prayers. When my panel members announced to me at the end of the interview process that I am admitted without conditions, I was filled with a lot of emotions. My whole journey towards and during this admissions process flashed in front of my eyes. Then all the interviewees, their mentors, and panel members gathered in a small room in short celebration of hymn singing, presentation of gifts, and a message of welcome. Some of us went out for dinner; possibly the best Chinese food I’ve had in Canada. I received a lot of congratulations and welcomes and came home in an elated and festive mood. more —>

Reflection: Jan 28: Living Faithfully

Sermon Jan. 28, 2018

Mark 1:21-28

Living Faithfully

Today, we read a passage on food that have been offered to idols and another on demon possession. How do you feel about that? Are you feeling out of sorts yet? Living in Canada and being a part of the United Church of Canada, as opposed to the Pentecostal Church or even the Roman Catholic Church where they are familiar with exorcism, we might feel like we cannot relate to any of those stories. But having lived in Kenya with a lot of people suffering from poverty, poverty related issues, and a lot of psychological traumas, the talk of demon possession is not uncommon. Even back in the early 70’s when my father was a probationary minister of the Korean Methodist Church and was stationed in a small rural church, he experienced something similar. One day, one of his church ladies brought her daughter to his place, told him that she was possessed by the devil and asked him to take care of it. She just put her daughter in his room and left. So, what can my father do? He earnestly prayed for her. Looking back at this incident, he told me that the young lady was mentally troubled and was having an episode by freaking out. Apparently, his prayer calmed her down. But exorcism? Probably not, eh? I believe that real demon possessions are rare, but when one is mentally troubled and vulnerable, it is possible for an evil spirit to manipulate this person. But hey, what goes on in the spiritual realm is difficult for us to know, so let’s pause it right here more —>