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 —>

Reflection: Jan 21 Called to Vocation

Sermon Jan. 21, 2018

Mark 1:14-20

Called to Vocation

Last Sunday, I mentioned the invisible force of attraction; how a lot of times it is difficult to pinpoint why we are drawn to the people or places that we are drawn to. Have you ever met someone who makes you think, “I simply MUST get to know this person”? What about discovering something that made you think, “I simply MUST possess this thing”. I remember going to the used book store in Marysville and thinking, “I belong here.” Now I’m one of the volunteers working there. I also remember, at the age of 12 ½, joining my church’s youth choir; I sang in that choir for 6 years and whenever I couldn’t sing with the choir because I missed the practice, I sat in the pew feeling so wrong inside my stomach. I think some of our choir members can relate to that. On the other hand, a couple of times in my life when I was forced into serving a group as the treasurer, it was immediately obvious that it was a wrong job for me. There’s a reason why we are good at some things and bad at others. There’s a reason why we enjoy some things and don’t enjoy others. There are certain things we are called to be or do. more —>

Reflection: Jan 14

Sermon Jan. 14, 2018

John 1:43-51

Come and See: Invitation to Mystery

Have you ever met someone who makes you feel like your souls are connected? That’s what soul mates are, isn’t it? But what about friends or colleagues? Have you met someone with whom you felt a special connection, which cannot be explained? For me, one such person is my friend Shawn in Montreal. The first time we met, he happened to sit next to me at a school meeting. I invited him to St. James United Church because I was preaching for the World AIDS Day service. He came, we went out for lunch after the service, and that was it; we started being drawn to each other with a kind of invisible force. We became close friends very quickly. When you experience this kind of connection, it is difficult to pinpoint what was it about them that we were drawn to. Sometimes we are drawn to people because they have the same taste in music or other things; but that is not necessarily true for a lot of relationships I have experienced. Shawn definitely doesn’t listen to the same music as I do. It is not only in our relationships that we are guided by an invisible force. Sometimes we feel very comfortable at a place or in a group.  more —>

Reflection: Jan 7

Jan. 7, 2018 (Baptism of the Lord)

Mark 1:4-11

Now You Belong to Me

There is one thing about the American college life that I have come to learn that was new to me because it is not a part of the Korean college experience. I’m talking about the sorority and fraternity clubs. I know the basic concept of the boy’s and girls’ clubs, but I don’t truly understand what they are about, partially, I presume, because the spirit of the creation of these clubs and what is being practiced nowadays are different. I learned about these clubs from comedy movies, so I don’t believe that how the movies portray them is completely real; but one thing that intrigued me about what I saw in the movies is the initiation process. Not everyone can be accepted, of course. New students/ freshmen move into these fraternity or sorority houses as “pledges”, and then after a grueling process of tests and what looks like a boot camp training, some will be initiated into the brotherhood or sisterhood. In one movie I remember, those who passed the test were initiated at a welcome party, with the senior sisters or brothers giving them the house pin; they put the house pin on your clothes and you’re in. But these college clubs are not the only groups that have a distinctive initiation process or ceremony. They are distinctive because it is a public statement that the new member now belongs to the group. more —>