Reflection: Dec 5

Dec. 3, 2017 Sermon

Mark 13:24-37

Leap of Hope and Faith

Once upon a time, long time ago and in a faraway land, there were men whose job was to study the stars and discern signs; we call these people astrologers. One day, some of these men spotted a star unlike any other. It must be telling some extraordinary story! It must be an extraordinary sign! We don’t know what it is, but it has to be something big! So convinced of the special nature of this star, they decided to pack up and follow that star. They needed to know what it was about. They didn’t know what they would encounter on the way or at the end of the journey; but they had to know. They packed sustenance and some precious gifts, because you never know what you might encounter going through strange lands; you might need to bribe your way out. Probably when they read the star, they were convinced that it was a sign of royalty being born, a promised king. Still, they did not know what to expect from this journey; they were not Jewish, so they could not have known about the prophecy concerning David’s descendant. They left on a journey not knowing how long it would take or what they would encounter in the end.  more —>

Reflection: Nov 26

Nov. 26 2017 sermon

Matthew 25:31-46

Reign of Justice, Reign of Service

When I was graduating from the theological school, I noticed that graduation ceremony is called “commencement”. I thought it was weird because ‘commence’ means ‘to begin’. It intrigued me that graduation ceremony is called ‘commencement’. One would think that graduation is the end of something (end of school education); but then I thought, “Yes, the end of one thing means the beginning of something else.” I think it’s a shift of perspectives, seeing graduation as a beginning rather than an ending. more —>

Reflection: Nov 19

Nov. 19, 2017 sermon

Matthew 25:1-13/ Judges 4:1-8

Gifted People, Working Together

Almost two weeks ago, I went to Nanaimo to attend a workshop on emotional intelligence and human relationship skills. I didn’t really know what to expect, except that there might be a lot of lecturing and taking notes; aren’t we all used to this type of learning? What surprised me about this workshop is that learning about emotional intelligence and relationship skills is best done in a group environment. It wasn’t a workshop aimed at healing the emotions, like psychotherapy, but more than half of our sessions felt like therapy because our emotional intelligence and how well or badly we relate to one another is grossly influenced by what we have been through. more —>

Reflection: November 5

November 5, 2017 Sermon

Matthew 5:1-12/ 1 John 3:1-3

Blessed Are Those…

This past week, we went through Halloween and All Saints’ Day. While doing nothing Halloween-y except for watching a surprisingly scary children’s movie, I thought of how our society/ pop culture takes Christian holy days and make them an occasion for fun and money making. On Easter, we hunt for Easter eggs because according to one TV comedy, “Easter bunny died for our sins.” On the day we celebrate our Saviour being born among the marginalized of the world to proclaim God’s kingdom of equality and justice, a jolly fat guy brings gifts, children from richer families receiving fancier gifts to the poor children’s dismay. On All Saints’ Day, we remember the saints who have left us, and their legacy, and children dress up and beg for candies. I find some of these interesting and some others bitter, Halloween being the interesting one.  more —>

Reflection: Oct 29

October 29, 2017 Sermon (Reformation Sunday)

Matthew 22:34-40

Reformation of Our Own

During the Presbytery weekend, I had the honour and privilege to preach at Rev. Ibi’s covenanting service in Cranbook. I was worried about Ibi starting his first solo parish ministry, and the Cranbrook congregation that probably never had a pastor from such a different place. I was filled with love and worries as if he were my little brother; then I came to a sudden realization. “Wait a minute! But I am also from a very different culture!” Since I feel so comfortable in the west, I often forget the fact that I grew up in a very different culture. I suddenly remembered the time when I was told that it is rude to not keep eye contact when you are talking with someone. It was more than 10 years ago. In my culture, it is rude to look straight into someone’s eyes when you talk to them, especially if the person you are addressing is older or in a higher social status than you are. more —>

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: Aug 13

August 13, 2017 Sermon

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28/ Matthew 14:22-33

 

If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Ride ‘em

There is a poem that has become a Christian cliché. I personally heard this poem many times, both in Korean and English. In case you are not familiar with it, this is how it goes;

“Last night I had a dream.  I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.  For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonged to me, the other to the Lord. After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.  I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.  “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way.  But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints.  I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.” The Lord replied, “My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.  During your times of suffering, when you could see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”” more —>