Reflection: Sept 17

September 17, 2017 Sermon

Exodus 14:19-31/ Matthew 18:21-35

 New Vision for God’s People

When you hear the word ‘salvation’, what comes to your mind? Are you still haunted by the traditional church teaching that salvation means, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal saviour you don’t have to burn in hell? Ever since I started studying theology and struggling with my faith and what it means to me, doctrinal terms such as ‘salvation’ or ‘redemption’ started feeling different. Although these concepts require a lifelong struggle to understand, I remember FEELING the concept of salvation and liberation. It was my second Sunday worshipping with the United Church of Canada. I had just arrived in Montreal for my studies and attended St. James UC. My second Sunday at St. James was a communion Sunday. This pastor whom I didn’t know at the time was the pastor of the church because the previous Sunday we had a guest preacher, an old man with gray hair shared a story of a gay man and his struggle to be accepted. more —>

Reflection: Sept 10

September 10, 2017 Sermon

Exodus 12:1-14/ Matthew 18:15-20

 Living Together in the Community of God

The new school year has started, and it reminded me of whenever I started a new school, or a new job. When you start a new school or job, you have to get used to the new schedules and responsibilities. When I first started McGill University 5 years ago, I lived 15 minutes away from my faculty building (on foot), and I had to pass the school gym. I remember thinking, I will go work out at the gym regularly since the gym is 5 minutes away. Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well. But I remember how I felt going to classes the first semester, and although I didn’t work out very regularly, how I felt going to the gym with new determination to stay healthy. Anticipation and at least a little anxiety are what we usually feel when we start something new. When we start something new, when we begin to belong to a group, it bring changes to our lives. Our daily schedules and our mindset change, because you start doing different things because you belong to a certain group or program. Belonging to a new group or program means, we change our way of thinking and living. more —>

Reflection: Sept 3

September 3, 2017 Sermon

Exodus 3:1-15/ Matthew 16:21-28

 What It Means to be Called

Have you heard of a televangelist called Joel Osteen? He has a mega church in Houston, Texas that can seat 16,000 people. This past week, he was brutally criticized by the internet. A close friend of mine posted an article about him; it says that he refused to open up his church for the flood survivors. What surprised me was that I wasn’t surprised at all. I found myself leaving a comment dripping of sarcasm; “I’m so shocked I could faint.” I’m not sure how familiar you are with megachurches, but there are a lot of them in Korea too. They tend to lure people to join their churches by preaching the prosperity gospel. Prosperity gospel teaches that if you are faithful to the church, God will bless you with material blessings. Brilliant, isn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t want to join a church that says, God will make you rich? This is how Korean Christianity prospered, and how it will decline, according to some experts. more —>

Reflection: Aug 20

August 20, 2017 Sermon

Genesis 45:1-15/ Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32/ Matthew 15:10-28

 Called and United into God’s Family

We have already discussed family more than once, but let’s do it again. When we think of family, we immediately picture our own biological or legal family (because some children are step children or adopted). I have told you that, having been a part of the LGBT community in Montreal, I also have friends who are like family. And speaking of the LGBT community, this past week while reflecting on family, for some reason, I had the song “We Are Family” stuck in my head. Actually, the reason is obvious; this song is one of the biggest gay anthems. “We are family. I’ve got all my sisters with me.” Okay, I won’t torture you further with my singing, but here are the lyrics of the first verse; “Everyone can see we’re together as we walk on by. And we fly just like birds of a feather. I won’t tell no lie. All of the people around us they say, can they be that close. Just let me state for the record. We’re giving love in a family dose.”  more —>

Reflection: July 23

July 23, 2017 Sermon

Genesis 28:10-19a/ Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Keep Your Eyes on God

When I ponder this world in which we live today, I get tempted to lose faith in humanity. I think we are living in a generally confused world. We are confused about a lot of things. For one thing, we are morally confused; what is deemed right or wrong is not as black and white as it used to be. Sometimes, we can’t tell what is morally right or wrong anymore. If we pull the plugs on a loved one who has been in a coma for a very long time and the doctors say there is no hope, that he or she is silently suffering a lot of pain, and the medical bill is about to ruin your life, who can say with clarity if it’s the right or wrong thing to do?  more —>

Reflection: July 16 Stewardship as a Spiritual Practice

July 16, 2017 Sermon 

Exodus 35:20-29/ Luke 20:45-21:4

Stewardship as a Spiritual Practice

I’m sure we all know what a tithe is, although we don’t practice it here. Tithing is, however, a common practice for Korean Christians.  Every month, every Christian with any income offers one tenth of it to church. When young Christians get their first job, they offer tithe to church and buy long underwear for their parents to thank them for raising them well. Tithing as a commandment can be found in the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Leviticus 27:30 indicates that all tithes from the land belongs to God. The purpose of offering one tenth of the earnings is for the Levites, who were chosen to be the priests and didn’t inherit any land. Since the Levites didn’t inherit any land and offered religious service for a living, one tenth of other people’s earning was like a paycheck for them. more —>

Reflection: July 9

July 9, 2017 Sermon 

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67/ Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

The Yoke That We Lift Together

When we live to be my age, and more so, your ages, I think we gain enough experience with different human relationships. We have met and dealt with enough people in our lives; be it friends, coworkers, family members, romantic partners, or mere acquaintances. We have enough experience with people to be able to say that some of those relationships were easy and some were more difficult than others. We have experienced that with some people, we click immediately, and with others, relationship needs hard work. When we click and become close easily with someone, we call each other kindred spirits or soul mates. When we click, we understand that our relationships were meant to be, and when we meet someone with whom the relationship is difficult and too much work, we understand that we are not compatible.  more —>

Reflection: June 18

June 18, 2017 Sermon (Father’s Day)

Luke 15:11-32

Last Sunday, we talked about the Holy Trinity and its images and symbols. I mentioned that the patriarchal language of Father and Son can be oppressive to some people; mostly women and those who have bad memories of their fathers. Today is Father’s Day, and this day also can be an unpleasant or hurtful day for some. There are children who suffered either the absence or the inadequacies of their fathers. Some fathers are negligent; some fathers are abusive; some fathers are overly controlling, as some mothers are too. I would like to start my Father’s Day reflection by acknowledging those who cannot rejoice on Father’s Day. Apart from the absent and inadequate fathers, there are gay men with a lot of love to give but cannot have children. There are men and women who have to be both father and mother; including gay men and women who are parents.  more —>

Reflection: June 11

June 11, 2017 Sermon (Union Sunday/ Trinity Sunday)

Mt. 28:16-20/ 2 Cor. 13:11-13

Trinity: God Who Lives in Community

I remember once confessing to you that I am a tree hugger. When I say I am a tree hugger, try not to read too much into it; it simply means, I love hugging trees. I believe that the reason why I love hugging trees is because, having moved around a lot all my life, I was never able to take root anywhere. When I hug trees, I feel a sense of stability that I never really had in my life. I believe the tree is a symbol of stability because of its deep roots. Those of you who have experienced yoga will know the tree pose that trains us to steady our body, as if our feet are rooted underground; same principle. It is natural for those who don’t have the stability in life and those who feel lonely to yearn for a community, since we are social beings. Therefore, when one seeks community in the church and hears scripture verses such as “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20)”, it is enormous comfort. more —>

Reflection: June 4

June 4, 2017 sermon (Pentecost)

Acts 2:1-21/ 1Cor. 12:3-13

Work of the Spirit: Unity in Diversity

  There was a time when I didn’t know anything about the United Church of Canada, except for the urban legend I heard that they ordain gay people and marry gay couples, and my reaction that consisted of two questions; one, “Are you kidding me?”, and two, “No seriously, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Fast forwarding 15 years, and I was taking online courses to be admitted to the United Church. One of the courses I had to take was the United Church Worship, and the title of our main text book taught me in one phrase what the United Church is about, and not only in the United Church Worship; Ordered Liberty. This phrase summarises how we as the church embrace diversity, but in an orderly manner. Even our name has the word ‘united’ in it. In short, we are a church where diversity is united into one body. more —>