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 —>

Reflection: Christmas Eve

Dec. 24, 2017 (Christmas Eve Service)

Great Things Come in Small Packages

There is a saying in my home country, “Small chili peppers are spicier.” This saying is directed at those of small stature and those who look down on them (metaphorically) for their small stature. Short people tend to be stronger and feistier. Don’t mess with short people because they are feistier than you think. Don’t underestimate short people! This is the lesson to be learned. more —>

Reflection: Dec 24

Dec. 24, 2017 (Advent 4)

Luke 1:26-38, 47-55

Love in God’s Kingdom

Once upon a time, long time ago and in a faraway land, there was a young girl, probably barely a teenager, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph. One day an angel of God came to her and told her that she would have a very special son who would be called son of God and would reign the house of Jacob for ever. She was scared. How can it be? She’s not yet married. What would her villagers do to her? What would happen to her fiancé? It was really a lot to ask of someone. But this girl responded, “Let it be with me according to your word.” more —>

Reflection: December 10

Dec. 10, 2017

Mark 1:1-8

Peace, Fixing Relationships

Once upon a time, long time ago and in a faraway land, there was a people who believed that they were chosen by God to be the blessing to all nations. They believed that God made a covenant with their ancestors that if they faithfully lived by the teachings they had received called the Torah, God would bless them and their descendants. When they lost their land to foreign invasions and went on an exile, when they couldn’t understand why God’s chosen people were suffering so much, and when this national trauma lasted more than several hundred years, they concluded that it was because God’s people had not been faithful to God; that their suffering was a punishment from God. During this period that lasted several hundred years, there have been prophets who were sent to preach to God’s people. more —>

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 —>