Reflection: March 31: Ready, Reset, Go!

Reflection March 31, 2019

2 Corinthians 5:16-21/ Luke 15:11-32

Ready, Reset, Go!

I am sure you are all familiar with a children’s toy called Etch A Sketch. I’ve also seen some other toys like Etch A Sketch where you can draw or write, and then erase instantly. I have a confession to make, and I’m not exactly proud of myself; but when I visit a family with young children, I love playing with their Etch A Sketch, or some other toy that works like it. I am bad at drawing, so I draw something silly and bad, and then erase it right away. Actually, erasing is the most satisfying part of playing with an Etch A Sketch. You draw something silly, which doesn’t remain because it’s so easy to erase it; how cool is that? Don’t’ we all want our mistakes to magically disappear like a bad drawing on an Etch A Sketch?

Today, we read the parable usually known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which is not a very good title, since the focus of this story is his loving father. We know this story very well. We have heard this story so many times, haven’t we? We all know the moral of the story. The father is God and we are the prodigal son. No matter how bad we have been and how long we wandered away from God’s ways, if we come back in repentance, God welcomes us back spectacularly like the father in our story welcomed his prodigal son. We know the story. But today, I challenge you to pay attention to the elder brother, who has served his father faithfully. Jesus told this story to the self-righteous religious leaders of his time, who were like the elder brother. Since they served God faithfully, they believed that they deserved preferential treatment from God, just like the elder brother in our story, and got angry at Jesus’ message that God’s kingdom is for the marginalized of the society. And since we are usually encouraged to read this story from the perspective of the prodigal son, it is easy for us to join in at judging the elder brother; but we may not realize that most of us are the elder brother, not the younger brother. Most of us have been a part of the Christian Church for a long time; we are the elder brother. 

If we are the younger brother, the lesson we learn from this story is simple. Like in this hymn, “Come home, come home. You who are weary come home.” Of course, this is not the only anthem for the prodigal son; there is “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Anyway, if we are the elder brother, our course of action is not as clear. Did he do anything wrong? All he did was faithfully serve his father and worked hard, right? There are two things wrong with the elder brother. The first one is the arrogance of thinking his delinquent brother didn’t deserve a special banquet after what he did, which is easy to understand. The second one is that he only grimly performed his duty; he didn’t offer a loving service to his father. That is why he refuses to participate in the banquet his father orders for his brother. The Pharisees and other religious leaders were like this son; they were obsessed with obeying the law so they might have done so grudgingly and without joy. But remember that belonging to God, receiving God’s unconditional love and sharing it with one another has to be joyful. That is why Jesus talked of the heavenly banquet in which we would participate. That is why Jesus taught about the reign of God by spending time and food with his followers. Our fellowship with God and with each other is meant to be joyful. That is why we started today’s service by singing “Joyful, Joyful”. 

2 Corinthians chapter 5 talks about becoming a new creation in Christ. This Lent, let us think about whether we are like the elder son or the younger son. Are we away from God and do we need to come back? Or have we never left God like the elder brother but needs to check our Christian life for spiritual arrogance or lack of joy? Whichever son we are, God offers us unconditional love and forgiveness; “forgive and forget”. This Lent, let us listen to God’s invitation to an unconditional forgiveness. We can reset our lives and start anew as faithful people of God. As we can shake the Etch A Sketch and erase the bad drawings, we can shake our past and become a new creation. Let this Season of Lent be an occasion to press the reset button of our lives. Let us turn our lives around and let God change us. Ready? Set. Go! 

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: March 24: As the Seeds are Meant for Growing

Reflection March 24, 2019

Isaiah 55:1-11/ Luke 13:6-9

As the Seeds are Meant for Growing…

I’m not sure if you remember this day, but one Sunday, for the story time, I brought a tiny pot with a bean planted and watered. That day, I said to the children, “Let’s see how this bean grows!” I didn’t do a follow-up because that bean was a dud; nothing happened. It didn’t grow into anything. I thought of what I could have done to help it grow, and there may or may not have been a way. Correct me if I’m wrong because I’m not much of a gardener, but I think some seeds are just not meant to survive and grow. I want to ask those of you who are master gardeners; was there something I could have done to help the bean grow?

Today’s scripture readings are full of farming and gardening metaphors. Today’s Isaiah and Luke passages teach us that our relationships both with God and with each other are like growing plants or crops. First, Isaiah 55 talks of God’s vision of equality and justice and God’s expectation for God’s people to yield the fruit of justice according to God’s will. God’s kingdom is where those with no money can come and be fed; this is the beginning part of the chapter about God’s vision of a just society. Now, listen to verses 10 and 11; “ For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” If we have heard God’s words, we are expected to live by them and work towards bringing God’s justice to the world. The positive changes we make in the world are the fruit we are expected to produce. 

In the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, we meet a gardener pleading with the owner of the vineyard to let him give his barren tree another chance. He will take extra care to help the tree produce fruit before the owner decides to cut it down. There is something we don’t know while reading this parable, but this parable came out of the context of some people asking if the Galileans who were killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t get killed. We often ask this question, don’t we? “Why do bad things happen to certain people?” I remember, whenever a big natural disaster hits a region and a lot of people die or get displaced, somewhere someone claims that it was God’s judgement. Anyway, Jesus telling this parable came from a context where people wondered if the victims of Pilate’s massacre were punished for being bigger sinners than those who survived. 

That was the context of today’s parable. Now, moving away from the tragedy talk, let us think about privilege and those with privileges in our world. Why do some people have more privilege than others? Why do some people suffer more than others? Why are some people more marginalized than others? Is it because they are more or less worthy than other? According to the story Jesus tells today, “No.” More fragile trees receive more care. Maybe this is to teach us that having more privilege means having to do more and produce more fruit than those who don’t have the same privilege. Let us listen to James 3:1 that says those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. It means those with more privilege have more responsibilities, and since they have more responsibilities, they are expected to do more and better than others. If we have received more from God than others, it means God is giving us more responsibilities. 

Starting from this Lent, and throughout our lives, let us grow and become strong and healthy trees that produce a lot of good fruit. Let us grow in our faith and turn into faithful disciples who live by the teachings of Jesus. We are called to grow in faith and be the hands and feet for Christ in the world. Later, we will sing the hymn “As a Fire Is Meant for Burning”. It says, “As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame, so the church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name.” As the seeds are meant to grow into trees and fruit, we Christians are meant to grow in faith and become the embodiment of Christ so that our Christian lives can give glory to God’s name by bringing God’s love and justice here on earth. God gave us the responsibility to bring the reign of God here on earth. This Lent, let us focus on growing in God’s Spirit to produce the fruit of God’s reign of love, humility and justice for the all people. 

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: March 17: Trust and Follow

Reflection March 17, 2019

Genesis 15:1-6/ Luke 13:31-35

Trust and Follow

Today, let’s start by talking about anxiety. I was tempted to be like a counsellor or psychotherapist and begin with, “Today, let’s talk about your anxiety issue”; but cool head prevailed, so, instead, I will start with a joke about anxiety. The New Zealander comedian Cal Wilson says she calls herself an ‘over-thinker’ to avoid pronouncing her real problem, which is anxiety. She said, “If you say you’re an over-thinker, everyone’s like, “Oh, that’s efficient and thorough.” But if you say you’ve got anxiety, everyone’s like, “Oh, should you be out without a carer?” I come from a family of anxious people, like I would describe us as pessimistic optimists. We believe the glass is half full, but we’re worried that someone has put bleach in it.” I think, even if you are not an anxious type, you can still understand what it’s like to worry about something. I learned that for Christians, worrying is a sign of lack of faith; but according to my experience, the knowledge that God will take care of us and we shouldn’t worry doesn’t completely get rid of the worrying. If you can relate to this dilemma about worrying, don’t worry; we are not alone. Meet our ancestors in faith Abraham and Sarah before God changed their names and they were still called Abram and Sarai. God changed their names because they were to become the father and mother of many nations.

Abram and Sarai were chosen to be the ancestors of many nations, but Sarai couldn’t have children. It was a difficult promise to believe. They waited and waited, and their patience and faith faded. They were getting older and the chance of having a baby decreased drastically; I mean they were already old when God called them! Abram was 75 when their journey with God began! What chance did they have of becoming parents? When they ran out of patience and faith in God’s promise, they got themselves a son through Sarai’s handmaiden Hagar. But in today’s story in Genesis, God is saying, “No, that boy you got from Hagar is not going to be your heir. God made a promise of a great nation with a lot of descendants; Abram and Sarai couldn’t believe it. Now God made a covenant with Abram and he finally believed. That’s how Isaac was born, and eventually the twelve tribes of Israel. 

It is understandable how difficult it was for Abram and Sarai to trust God’s promise and persevere instead of doing something stupid like getting pregnant from someone else. If we can understand them, we will be able to understand how humanly it is to worry about things that don’t seem humanly plausible. Remember Psalm 27 we read today; I don’t know about you, but when I read this Psalm, what I can feel is someone for whom life is bumpy and full of challenges constantly reminding himself of God’s steadfast love and help. He needs to keep reminding himself so that the challenges of life don’t strip him of courage and hope. “God is my salvation and I shall not be afraid” is like a mantra to convince himself as well as a bold affirmation of his faith.  

We are only human, and it is difficult to just trust and follow; but this is what God requires of us as God’s children. In Luke 13, Jesus laments that Jerusalem failed to follow him like little chicks follow their mother hen. I think all of you who are parents remember the times when your children would not listen to your advice/ guidance and get hurt, both literally and metaphorically. “Oh that silly child doesn’t know what is good for him (or her)!” “I told him not to run out into the street!” Well you know what? My mother used to say whenever I ran away from my piano teachers and quit my piano education, “Some day, you will regret this!” And of course, mother was right! That’s why I am currently relearning things I knew how to play when I was 7 or 8. When our beloved children don’t follow our guidance, we can get exasperated because having been through life, we know stuff that children don’t know. 

This passage in Luke that we read today is puzzling in a lot of ways and there are debates about what Jesus means here. I will make things simple for you by emphasizing on the imagery of Jesus or God as the mother hen and us as the baby chicks. God and Jesus are exasperated because we were offered the eternal love and ways of God but they were spurned. Let us learn from Abram and Sarai’s failure to trust God and be patient. The ability to trust God even when hope seems bleak can come from building intimate relationship with God. Let us learn from the author of Psalm 27 to keep praying and repeat mantras to stay hopeful, trusting of God, and patient. Lent is a waiting/ training period and it can feel dreary and long. We can get impatient, thinking, “When is Easter coming?” Let us relax, take a deep slow breath, and take a slow path spending time with God. Let us enjoy the time we spend with God, and God will teach us patience and help us to be more trusting.

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: Feb 24: Let Us Build a House Together

Reflection Feb. 24, 2019

Isaiah 43:18-19/ Matthew 5:13-16

Let Us Build a House Together

Once there was an old king with three beautiful daughters. He decided to give the most beautiful of his three kingdoms to the daughter who loved him the most. The first daughter said, “I love you, dear father, like a dove loves good grain.” The second daughter said, “I love you as a hot summer day loves a cool breeze.” The youngest daughter said, “I love you like people love salt.” “What do you mean salt? You ungrateful child! Is this what I raised and loved you for all these years? Get out of my sight!” She was shunned from the palace. She hid in the forest and survived by collecting nuts and berries. One day, a prince from a neighboring kingdom found the princess in the forest, fell in love because of her beauty, and brought her back to his palace, and married her. Years have passed, and one day the prince asked her why her father chased her away. After listening to her, he had the idea to invite her father over for a visit, without telling him that his daughter was there. The prince served the king food with no salt. The king got upset about it. The prince said, “I heard that you don’t like salt, sire.” “Who told you that?” “Why, your daughter, sire.” And then the daughter appeared, the king shed tears of joy, and gave his most beautiful kingdom to his youngest daughter. And they all lived happily ever after. 

There are so many things that are wrong in this Hungarian folk tale, which I will not mention; I just want to focus on the power of salt. We think of salt as adding flavours to our food, but it does so much more than that. It prevents food from going bad, especially when refrigerators didn’t exist. Salt even enhances the sweet flavour in sweets; so much so that salty chocolate and caramel became a thing. Salt does all this without boasting, melted and not seen. 

When Jesus says we are the salt of the world, we could understand it in different ways, but the most important thing we should understand in us being the salt of the world is that we should get into the world, be melted in, and make the world better like salt prevents food from going bad. As the salt of the world, we fight social evil and heal the people. Salt is essential to us and good for a lot of things, even though too much salt can kill us according to the doctors. Salt is meant for melting, while light is meant for shining and revealing. The whole point of light is to shine so it can be seen. I remember the story of a Christian man during WWII who saved hundreds of Jewish children’s lives. He was like the salt, saving lives in secret. Then some decades later, the list of the children he saved was discovered, and his good deed was revealed through a TV program where he was invited as well as the children who were saved by him. He was invited to the show under false pretenses. They just surprised him. This event where his good deed was revealed to the world is like light. We learned about what he did and were inspired by it. As the salt of the world, we should heal; as the light of the world, we should inspire. 

As the church, we are called to be the salt and the light of the world. Today, we will have our Annual General Meeting. You might feel hesitant or intimidated by the idea of participating in the church leadership. The society has changed so much that we don’t know how to be the church anymore. Our United Church of Canada is going through a major change by which all the pastoral charges are affected. Actually, we are not called pastoral charges anymore; we are now communities of faith. In this time of change and confusion, what we need the most is a new vision for our ministries. For a new vision, we need to trust in God more. Let us trust in God who is doing a new thing; God who makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Let us not fret and be anxious because God helps and delivers, as we read in Psalm 37. With our meeting today, let us trust God, pray for a new vision, pray for our leaders, and support our leaders and our ministries with our love for God. Let us build a house together where all are welcome and the members live as salt and light in the world into which God sends us.

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: Feb 17: Blessed Are We

Reflection Feb. 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10/ Luke 6:17-26

Blessed Are We

When I was a teacher, I had a way of positively brainwashing my young children. The gist of what I did was to tell them in a very serious tone that they are good or smart children and that the behaviour they are showing at the time is uncharacteristic of them, even if it is not true. I brainwash them so seriously that they start believing me, and their behaviour changes at least for that day. They start behaving with a calm dignity or try learning more seriously (because they are supposed to be good). So, my children changed their behaviour or attitude in learning after hearing that they are supposed to be good. 

Several years ago, I saw a series of photos on the internet. A photographer approached random strangers on the street and told them that they were beautiful, and captured on the camera, their faces lighting up with beautiful smiles; before and after photos. You tell people they are beautiful, and they will become more beautiful because they now believe they are beautiful. This is why it is important to tell children and adults that are beautiful, worthy, loved, and capable. Oh, what we can all achieve when we start believing in ourselves!

Today, we heard God’s message of blessing to us. Jesus in the Gospel of Luke lists who are blessed and who are not. This pronouncement is quite subversive and shows us the subversive nature of God’s kingdom. Those who are blessed in God’s kingdom are marginalized in our society. Jesus is not saying that those who are not marginalized are automatically cursed. But as he says in other parts of the gospel, “it is the sick who needs the doctor.” He says marginalized people are blessed because they need a constant reminder that they are as worthy and loved as those who have privileges. Those with privileges don’t need that reminder; they don’t suffer low self-esteem. The upside-down values of God’s kingdom may sound like the marginalized are automatically blessed and those who have privileges are automatically cursed; but it is not the focus here that privileged people will be cursed in the afterlife because they had it all in the mortal life. What matters is that we understand God’s kingdom value that uplifts those who need constant reminding that they are worthy because the society doesn’t treat them as such. 

The message that we are hearing today is that God calls us blessed, and that we should act like God’s blessed people. When my old students were told that they were good students, they sat up straighter and paid more attention in class. Now how should we act or live as people being called blessed by God? Listen to Jeremiah who says those who trust in God shall be like a tree planted by water sending out its roots by the stream. Those who put their trust in God and have their roots in God’s Spirit constantly hear God’s voice telling them they are blessed, worthy, and loved; and those who are constantly reminded that they are blessed can live with more courage and confidence. They will not fear the heat that life throws at them or be anxious. Their spirit will prosper with vitality as a tree planted by water has green leaves and produce fruit in due season as we read in Psalm 1. 

Let God tell you that you are blessed and do not surrender to life’s ordeals. Stand tall in the midst of storms and confidently proclaim, “I am God’s blessed and beloved. I will keep my head up, trust God, and face this storm with courage and hope.” When we feel secure, it is easier to cope with whatever we go through. Let’s God’s message of blessing make you feel secure. As my students acted good when they were told that they were good, let our life reflect the message of love and blessing we receive from God. Let us live like we are blessed people. Blessed and beloved people love and respect themselves, and others too. They live with dignity of being God’s children and aspire to live like Jesus that we follow; with empathy, and sometimes righteous anger. We can live fully and courageously, knowing that we are God’s blessed people, and share our blessing with others; especially the marginalized who need more reminder than others. God called us blessed. Now let us go out and be the blessing to others.

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: Feb 10: Encounter with the Sacred

Reflection Feb. 10, 2019

Isaiah 6:1-8/ Luke 5:1-11

Encounter with the Sacred

A teacher of the spiritual way was walking along a path near a river when he noticed a crowd of people a short distance ahead. When he reached the place where they were gathered, he realized that they were looking with awe at one of his students who was crossing the river by walking on water. Incensed, he called the student back to the shore, and put him on a ferry that was tied to a nearby dock. “This,” he said emphatically, “is how you cross a river!” This story, which is quoted in Tom Stella’s book CPR for the Soul addresses our common misconception that spirituality belongs to a realm above and beyond everyday life. The student’s immaturity made him think that a flashy act like walking on water was a sign of great spirituality. But the maturity of the teacher knew that a mundane thing like crossing a river in a boat, and all normal things, are sacred. 

Likewise, we tend to think that the encounter with God happens through supernatural ways. Well, why not? The stories we read from the Bible have God’s people meeting the divine in a burning bush, through an angel’s visit telling you that your son will be the saviour, or in a blinding light on the road to Damascus, which is what the Bible says that happened to Paul. Today, we met two men who encountered the divine. We met Isaiah and Simon Peter being called. Isaiah’s story has all the elements of supernatural appearance of the divine, with the angels. If God met with everyone in this fashion, there would be no doubt, would there? But in a lot of cases, this is not how it happens. Think of Simon Peter who needed some time until he could recognize the divine. It took a while because he encountered the divine in an ordinary town near the lake, in his ordinary fishing boat, and in a poor man named Jesus. 

These two men encountered the divine in different manners, but their reaction and response at realizing they were face-to-face with the divine was the same. Facing the divine, they were filled with awe and fear; fear that they were unworthy. Isaiah confessed his unclean lips; Peter asked Jesus to leave him because “I am a sinful man.” God asked, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I. Send me.” Jesus told Simon, “From now on, you will be catching people.” You see, this fishing metaphor makes perfect sense to Simon because he is a fisherman. His response to the call of Jesus was that he left everything at the height of his career and followed him. 

As we can learn from these two men’s stories, there are certain things that happen to us when God comes to us and calls us. The first step is awe because we are only human. The second step is fear because we realize how small and unworthy we are in the face of the divine. The third step is God telling us, “I think you are worthy, so do not be afraid.” Jesus told Simon not to be afraid and called him. He was encouraging Simon that since he’s a good fisherman, he will do well “catching” people too. Isaiah’s unclean lips got cleansed, ready to go out and proclaim God’s words. God doesn’t call us and send us out, wherever we are sent, unprepared; hence, “do-not-be-afraid.”

From Simon’s story, we learn two things; first, it takes time and discernment to recognize the presence and call of God because God meets us through ordinary and unexpected things and people. Second, Jesus demands radical discipleship. His disciples, not only Peter, abandoned everything to follow Jesus. Think of Zebedee whose two sons James and John left everything to travel with Jesus; how is the father going to carry on with the fishing job now? They all had to give up their life security to follow Jesus. I also felt scared and insecure when I quit my comfortable teaching job and moved to New Jersey to study theology. God’s work requires unrelenting commitment and sometimes we have to make a radical change in our lives, from having to move to a new place to changing job situations. In turbulent and unjust societies, it could include going to jail or being persecuted in other scary ways while you work for justice. 

It seems all serious and solemn following Jesus when we hear of the possible sacrifices we might have to make, but if there is one thing I want you to remember today, it is that God tells us not to be afraid. God who calls us knows that we will need all the help we can get in living as disciples. As we go through changes as the church, listen for God’s call for you to be a part of our church’s ministry. Listen to God’s words, “Do not be afraid.” For the next two weeks until the Annual General Meeting, I invite you to look and listen for God’s presence in the ordinary and mundane, and ask God, “Into which part of our church’s ministry do you call me?” I pray that you will listen for God’s call and have the courage to respond like Isaiah did; “Here am I. Send me,” in the knowledge and assurance that God who calls you will also help and equip you.

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: Dec 2: Be the Signs of Hope

Reflection for Dec. 2, 2018 (Advent 1)

Jeremiah 33:14-16/ Luke 21:25-36

Be the Signs of Hope

I remember hearing about the American dream when I was growing up in Korea. A lot of Koreans dreamed of moving to the United States. Even when I was in my thirties and studying at the theological school in New Jersey, a lot of Korean pastors were studying there with me because they wanted to stay in the United States. Honestly, as someone who has lived both in the United States and in Canada, I know that Canada is a better country; but they make those plans in the hope that life would be better there. I came to Canada because I know that life is better for me personally here. The American dream continues even now with a lot of people trying to escape extreme poverty or for safety. They consider life in the United States as their best hope for survival. So, when the US government fires tear gas at them at the border, even at little children, it’s an act of destroying the hope of desperate people. 

Even for us ordinary people living a relatively safe and comfortable life, sometimes we need help and hope. When we are down, we hear advice to focus on the positive to help us through hard times. “Be grateful for what you have, instead of complaining or lamenting about what you don’t have.” “Count your blessings.” We all go through challenges and difficulties in life sometimes, so we all need hope to hang onto, not only the desperate people such as asylum seekers. In the Bible, we can see the people of Israel when they were desperate and desperately looking for hope. Prophets of the Old Testament brought messages of hope to their people. God would send them a chosen one to restore the nation of Israel and restore its people to their past glory, which was the reign of David. Therefore, it makes sense that they hoped for God’s chosen one to come from David’s lineage. The messiah that Israel started waiting for is, one, a king to restore the nation, and two, from King David’s line. Their idea of salvation was different from our Christian one. That is why a lot of Jesus’ disciples were disappointed when he didn’t turn out to be a political rebel, Judas, being the most significant one. And they all looked for signs of hope. A special star guiding mysterious foreigners must have been quite an attractive and believable story to the ancient people.

But signs do not only come in supernatural forms. Even rational and scientific creatures like us can see signs, just not supernatural ones. When Jesus mentions that they can know summer is coming by observing the fig tree, that is something we can relate to. As I remember from my childhood, rainfall was imminent when grandmas and grandpas had worse joint pain than usual. We know that it’s because of the humidity level in the air; nothing supernatural or superstitious. But Jesus also says that we should be vigilant and watch out for signs. We are not exactly waiting for the end of the world too much, but we can learn from different signs from nature that we are destroying the environment. Some people think the end of the world will come as an environmental disaster, which is believable. So, we listen to scientists and environmental activists and think, “We should start protecting the earth now, or else there might be no future for our descendants.” For those who care about the environment, the movements to reduce waste, recycle, and writing letters and protesting for an environmentally conscious policies are the hope. I’m sure, for those with low and fixed incomes struggling to make their ends met, receiving help from the food bank is hope. For people of colour, seeing role models of colour is hope. These are some of the many faces of hope. Different people need different types of hope; hope comes in different forms. The author of Psalm 25 that we read today put his hope in God; his trust in God’s goodness. 

As people of God preparing for Christmas, the birth of the special child who gave hope to millions and billions throughout history, reminds us that we should become hope for others as our teacher Jesus was for many. We constantly look for signs of hope when we need help. There are many people in the world who are more desperate than us. When countries such as Germany and Canada welcome refugees, that is the sign of hope for a lot of desperate people. When someone can’t pay all the bills and put food on the table, help from food bank is hope. When a person of colour or a gay person suffer bigotry and discrimination, white people or heterosexual people standing up for them is a sign of hope. When good men march alongside women in the women’s day march, supporting gender equality, it is a sign of hope for women. 

Jesus came to earth to proclaim God’s liberating reign of love and justice, for which he lived and died. His followers are called to, well, “follow” in his footstep and work to bring God’s reign on earth. We start the first week of Advent with the theme of hope. We are all looking for signs of hope. If Jesus was the sign of hope for so many who followed him, as his followers, we should be the signs of hope for others. Treating others with compassion, providing help and support for those who need them, standing up for justice even if we belong to the privileged groups, this is how we follow Jesus and be the signs of hope for others. Thomas a Kempis wrote a classical book called Imitating Christ; as followers of Jesus, let us imitate the human Jesus and the values for which he stood. During this Advent and Christmas season, let us remember our call to imitate Jesus and follow his footsteps of life of humility and service. With the spirit of humility and service, let us become the signs of hope to our neighbors as we wait for Christmas.

Rev. Sunny Kim

Reflection: Nov 25: Not of This World

Reflection for Nov. 25, 2018 (Reign of Christ Sunday)

2 Samuel 23:1-4/ John 18:33-37

Not of This World

Today, let’s talk about monarchy. I don’t usually think we belong to the queen, but then sometimes, it hits me by surprise; like when we sang God Save the Queen at the Remembrance Day Ceremony. Do you all know the words to that song? I don’t! Anyway, when we learn about kings and queens from history, we can see that some monarchs are dubbed “great”. In the Korean history, we have the Great King Sejong. We have some other kings who are dubbed “great” for being military heroes, but Great King Sejong, who was not military at all, is considered the best king Korea has ever had. He is most famous for developing the Korean alphabet designed to be easy enough for anyone to learn. Of course, he didn’t do it himself; he commissioned scholars to do it. He also encouraged and supported scientists, among whom was the son of a slave woman, which, as you could imagine, was a scandal at the time. But the king saw how brilliant he was and didn’t care about his background. This man ended up inventing so many things, including a device that measures rainfall. I find it noteworthy that among the “great” kings in our history, King Sejong, and not any of the great military heroes, is considered the best one. His reign was driven by his love for his subjects rather than by his vain desire to conquer and become a hero. Unfortunately, a monarch that actually cares about his or her subjects seems rare. Thus is the way of our humanly world, I guess. more —>

Reflection: Nov 11: God’s Vision of Peace

Reflection for Nov. 11, 2018 (Remembrance Day)

Isaiah 2:2-5/ Colossians 3:12-15

God’s Vision of Peace

Today is the day we remember the horror of the wars, those who fought for our freedom, and commit to world peace by saying, “No more!” I think the word ‘peace’ is one of the most used and abused words, like ‘love’. Beauty pageant contestants used to all wish for world peace, making the task of working towards it feel cheap and trivial. Also, the word ‘peace’ means different things to different people, and even for the same people, if they are in different situations. We might do yoga or meditation to calm our chattering minds. If our young children are wreaking havoc in the house, we might say, “Can’t I have a minute of peace in this house?” But people living in war zones might feel quite differently about peace.  more —>

Reflection: Nov 4: Together Forever

Reflection for Nov. 4, 2018 (All Saints’ Sunday)

Revelation 12:1-6a/ John 11:32-44/ Isaiah 25:6-9

Together Forever

Today, I will open with some Halloween jokes. What are ghosts’ favorite trees? Ceme-trees. Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? He didn’t have the guts. Why are graveyards noisy? Because of all the coffin’. When is it bad luck to meet a black cat? When you are a mouse. Why are vampires tough to get along with? Because they can be pains in the neck. I think they are a bit lame, but they were the best I could find on the internet. My favorite is the black cat joke.  more —>