Reflection: Aug 19: In Life, In Death, In Life Beyond Death…

August 19, 2018 Reflection

John 6:51-58/ Ephesians 5:15-20

In Life, In Death, In Life Beyond Death…

Today, we will be talking about heaven; so, let’s start with some heavenly jokes. One day, a highly successful executive woman was hit by a car and went to heaven. At the Pearly Gate, St. Peter said, “You’re the first executive who came up here and I don’t know what to do with you.” She said, “Just let me in.” Peter said, “Okay, we have rules up here. You are to spend one day in hell and one day in heaven, and then decide where you want to spend your eternity.” She went down to hell; she saw all her old colleagues and friends, who welcomed her, at a beautiful golf course and a fancy restaurant where she ate lobster and steak. Even the devil was nice to her. The next day, she spent a day in heaven, frolicking in the clouds, playing harps, and singing. When it was time for her to make up her mind, she said to Peter, “I didn’t think I would say this, but I’d rather be in hell.” She went back to hell and found a wasteland with her colleagues in rags. The devil came to her and she said, “But yesterday, everything was beautiful, and we had a great time.” The devil smiled and said, “Yesterday, we were recruiting you; today, you’re staff.” more —>

Aug 12: Reflection: Bread of Life, Bread of Unity

August 12, 2018 Reflection

John 6:35, 41-51/ Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Bread of Life, Bread of Unity

When I was a graduate student in Montreal, I had to take a course on research methods. Every semester offers different methods to focus on; mine happened to be something called memory theory. I had difficulty grasping the concept of memory theory in general, but my research paper was on collective memory. Collective memory is about a group of people preserving their identity by collectively remembering their stories, mostly through rituals. For example, every Lunar New Years Day, Koreans eat rice cake soup and bow to their parents, relatives, and teachers. Jewish people host a Passover Seder to remember the story of how God lead their people out of Egypt through Moses. Even we have our own traditions as a congregation, don’t we? There are certain things we do, or we do things a certain way that might be different from other congregations. If we want to talk about our identity as Christians, I would have to say, the most important ritual we do to preserve (or to remind ourselves of) our religious identity is the Holy Communion. more —>

Reflection: July 8: Sent Out in Jesus’ Name

July 8, 2018 Reflection

Mark 6:1-13/ 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Sent Out in Jesus’ Name

I hope you don’t think I watch TV too much because I’m going to start with another story from a TV show. Call the Midwife is one of the two TV shows I am currently watching. It’s a show about midwifes in a poor neighbourhood in London during the late 50’s and early 60’s, and the many women who give birth helped by these midwives. In an episode I watched two weeks ago, there was young woman named Roseanne who is married to a man who loves her with all his heart and treats her like a queen. She gives birth to a girl, but something is not right with the young mother. While she’s in labour, she resists the nurse’s instruction and the birth itself. After the birth, she leaves that baby outside a shop owned by a nice lady. At this point, we all think maybe she is suffering post-partem depression. But then it turns out that she used to be a prostitute and she doesn’t believe she is good enough for her new life. She leaves a note for her husband, leaves the baby at home, and runs away. She goes to her old friend who is still soliciting for a living while raising her children. more —>

Reflection: July 1: Healing of the Nation, Grieving of the Past

July 1, 2018 Reflection (Canada Day)

Mark 5:21-43/ 1 Samuel 1:17-27

Healing of the Nation, Grieving of the Past

Recently, I discovered a new TV show on Netflix. It’s called “An Hour to Save Your Life.” It is a British documentary series of emergency medical staff, both paramedics on the site and the doctors and nurses in the hospital trauma centre who try to save the lives of trauma patients. The title is “An Hour to Save Your Life” because for trauma patients, the first 60 minutes are crucial to whether they will survive or die. It is more captivating than fictional medical dramas because these are real medical professionals trying to save real people. Every episode shows three patients fighting to survive. Some survive and make full recovery, some survive but with some permanent damages in their body such as partial hearing loss, and some don’t survive at all even after the medical effort that looks pretty much like a battle scene. This procedure of trying to save a trauma patient’s life is utter chaos like in a war; it’s a life and death situation, and there is fear, desperation, mustering up of hope, tears, and one can easily imagine, desperate prayers. It is highly emotional. more —>

Reflection: June 24: Is It Well with My Soul?

June 24, 2018 reflection 

Mark 4:35-41/ 1 Samuel 17;57-18:5, 10-16

Is It Well with My Soul?

This is the story of when the Methodist Father John Wesley was on his way to the American colonies as a missionary. He was on the ship when suddenly a great storm hit the ocean. As you might imagine, he was scared. Then he noticed a group of people praying and singing with joy like nothing was happening. He was intrigued. He couldn’t understand. How can it be that anyone who may die in the middle of the ocean sing with joy? They were a group of Moravian Christians from Germany. He later asked one of the Moravians if they had not been afraid. He answered that none of them had been afraid, not even the children. Their faith was so strong that they were not afraid more —>

Reflection: June 17: Kingdom of Growth

June 17, 2018 sermon 

Mark 4:26-34

Kingdom of Growth

Since today is Father’s Day, I will start with Jerry Seinfeld’s joke about fathers. He said, “Fathers are intimidating. They are intimidating because they are fathers. Once a man has children, for the rest of his life, his attitude is, “The heck with the world. I can make my own people. I’ll eat whatever I want, I’ll wear whatever I want, and I’ll create whoever I want.” Seinfeld wrote this joke long before he became a husband and father; I wonder how he would feel about this joke as a father. Perhaps, “Yeah! Fathers rule!” Or maybe a sigh? “Being a father is so challenging”? What if the fathers among us have to choose one of these two, which would it be? This past week, I have asked several of our members on what they think father’s role is in children’s life; among many things, the words growth, guidance and mentoring, and even hero came up. But I think these different words are connected to each other.

I personally think a parent’s role, mother or father, is to help the children experience growth. When I say ‘growth’, I’m not talking about physical growth, although it is crucial that children get enough food and nutrients to grow up healthy. Children also have to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Interestingly, today’s two parables are about growth. Both are called kingdom parables because they illustrate what God’s kingdom (or reign) is like. The first one about a man planting the seeds, which grow on their own teaches us that in God’s community, we disciples sow the seeds, but it is God who makes them grow. Repeating what I said last Sunday, if we achieve something great, glory be to God! Remember, it is no longer us who live, but Christ lives in us. God works through us. Another lesson that this parable teaches is that growth happens very slowly and gradually. It is imperceptible. This knowledge gives us patience (because we could get impatient about things not happening fast enough), and hope (because no matter how imperceptible it is, growth DOES happen). The last lesson of this parable is a call for preparedness. Seeds grow, maybe some faster than others. But at the end of this growth comes the harvest. Those that grew well will be harvested, and those that did not prosper will be cut off. It’s like at the end of a semester’s learning, there are final exams. If we were students, we should prepare for the exams, shouldn’t we? Knowing that judgment day is coming, although we don’t know when, we should keep growing in faith and strive to live as faithful citizens of God’s kingdom by loving and serving.  more —>

Reflection: June 10: Ambassadors of Christ

June 10, 2018 sermon 

Isaiah 43:18-21/ 2 Corinthians 4:7-15, 5:17-20

Ambassadors of Christ

Last Sunday at the BC Conference meeting in Penticton, we had a celebration of ministry service, which happens at every conference meeting. Seven candidates were ordained and four were admitted from other denominations, including yours truly. There were a lot of emotions floating around. Our BC Conference president got choked up while ordaining our new ministers and had to pause once in a while. We received gifts from the BC Conference, our children, and from the UCW. One of my colleagues who got ordained, Ingrid, received the children’s gifts from her own two children; everyone cried when they came to the stage. Then there were crying mothers proud of their daughters getting ordained. One mother started crying at 8 o’ clock in the morning at a Star Bucks coffee shop. After the ordination ceremony, I was paired up with Ingrid to serve the Holy Communion. Her mother came up to us to receive the communion, sobbing violently and calling her daughter “reverend” for the first time, making both of us cry. Oh mothers, what would we do without you? And when I say “mothers”, I would like to include anyone who cares for us and “mother” us, men or women, people with or without children. As I am officially admitted into the United Church of Canada, I salute the mothers without whom neither us pastors nor our church would exist.  more —>

Reflection: May 27: God Who Lives in Community

May 27, 2018 sermon (Trinity Sunday)

John 3:1-17/ Isaiah 6:1-8/ Romans 8:12-17

God Who Lives in Community

Since I have taught little children in my former life, I have a mentality of asking myself, how I can help someone understand a certain concept. One week, while preparing for a Bible story, I asked Daniel, “Does Aiden know what death is?” I wasn’t sure if preschool children understand death and dying. This struggle is more prominent in teaching children at church than at school. I think school curriculum is designed to be appropriate for the children’s different developmental stages, but at church, the Bible stories are the same. Yes, some Bibles stories are not appropriate for children, so we might leave them out altogether; but how do we, for example, explain the concept of Trinity; God in three persons? I explain to children that their moms and dads play different roles in different places and with different people but are the same people. One person can be a mom, wife, friend, engineer, and employee. But it’s not only with children; for example, when I was in Kenya, I had to use different anecdotes in my sermons because maybe my other ones are not culturally relatable to the Kenyan Christians. more —>

Reflection: May 20: Then You Will Know That I Am The Lord

May 20, 2018 sermon (Pentecost Sunday)

Acts 2:1-21/ Ezekiel 37:1-14

Then You Will Know That I Am the Lord

Do you remember how recently I have mentioned more than once that the Christian love that God expects of us is seemingly humanly impossible? Yet the author of 1 John says it is not a burden. How can we acquire this power, this ability? When I think of the high standards of the Christian love God expects of us, I think of the story of Corrie ten Boom during the Second World War and the story of a Korean pastor who lived during the Korean War. Corrie was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who got imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for helping Jewish people escape the Holocaust. After the war, she released a book telling her story and gave speeches. There is an anecdote of one such speech; as a Christian, as she was sharing her stories, she preached forgiveness. She then noticed in the crowd her former prison guard who abused and tortured her. Her bad memories, pain, and anger came back. But she had been preaching forgiveness, so how could she not forgive this man? How could she possibly and humanly forgive the man who tortured her? The man had repented his evil after the war and became a new person. He wanted to ask for Corrie’s forgiveness. After the speech, while this man was walking down the aisle to get to Corrie, Corrie was earnestly praying to God to give her the strength and courage to forgive him. During the short time this man was walking down the aisle, Corrie was able to forgive him. How could this be? Is she a superhero? more —>