Reflection October 6, 2019 by Rev Sunny
Lamentations 3:19-26/ 2 Timothy 1:3-14 / Luke 17:5-10
Holy Communion: Legacy of Faith
Today, I will tell you the history of my piano education. If, by the end of this story I sound like I’m bragging, you’d be right. I’m totally bragging! My mother started my piano education when I was in first grade. Over the following six years, I kept repeating the pattern of quitting and then going back. I didn’t want to take piano lessons, but my mother the pastor’s wife wanted me to be able to play piano at church. Whenever I quit, she said, “You’ll regret it some day!” I said, “I don’t care!” Of course, mother was right; I did regret! Two years ago, when I bought a house with a piano in it, I thought, “well, can’t waste this fine piano, ok piano, I mean “functional” piano.” Since I had a brilliant pianist and teacher in my congregation, I started taking lessons from him. Then, his teaching had a magical effect on me; I started performing at the local performing arts festival and developing a dream I didn’t even know I had. So, I always practise with the festivals in mind, which lights a fire in me. Then a little while ago, during the weekend of my wedding, my teacher told me something really big and shocking; it turns out, through him and his teacher and her teacher and so on, I am a great great great great grand pupil of Beethoven himself! It blew my mind! My sister, who studied classical piano, said that I must be learning Beethoven’s school of music. This information had an indescribable effect on me; I want to be a better performer worthy of my great great great great grand master Beethoven. So, the legacy of Beethoven continues, even through an amateur pianist like me. Very touching.
Today’s theme is faith, but we will reflect on faith through the Holy Communion, since we are celebrating World Communion Sunday. Our gospel reading suddenly starts with the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith. What we missed, before this request, is Jesus’ commandment to forgive others over and over again. Think about someone who really gave you a hard time and mistreated you, and you will understand how difficult forgiveness can be. The teaching on forgiveness is the context of what we read about the faith of a mustard seed. Forgiving can be so difficult that we need bigger faith to be able to do it. Now, mustard seed is known for its small size. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus uses mustard seed as an analogy of the kingdom of heaven because the tiny seed grows into a big tree. In today’s text in the Gospel of Luke, the point of a mustard seeds is not its size but the faith of such a tiny seed believing that it is meant to grow into a big mustard plant, and that it achieves it. This teaching reminds us of what Paul says in Philippians 4:13; “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” If a small mustard seed can grow into a big tree because God intended it and it believed in it, what great things can we not achieve for God’s kingdom? Think of the small people who have achieved greatness. Greta Thunberg is a teenager from Sweden who started the climate strike and inspiring all who care about the future of this planet. Rosa Parks was one ordinary woman whose small act of protest in a racially segregated bus started the civil rights movement in the US. Let us never say we are too powerless or too few to change the world; that’s just lack of faith.
The Holy Communion that we are celebrating today is the single most Christian ceremony. Eating together was very important to Jesus because it symbolizes the love of God’s kingdom where all are loved and valued. Starting from Jesus’ time where the teacher and disciples shared food and life together, we Christians have been eating together and celebrating the Holy Communion all throughout history. There are a lot of Christian rituals but sharing bread and wine at the Holy communion, also called the Lord’s Table and Eucharist, is the most powerful one that reminds us that we belong to Jesus and God’s kingdom. This is the greatest legacy of our faith. Timothy, who was one of the most important colleagues and disciples of Apostle Paul inherited his faith from his mother and grandmother. I received mine from my parents and my great grandfather who initiated the first Korean Bible translation project. I inherited his King James Bible that he gave to my mother when she started her theological education. My husband Attila kept his late mother’s prayer book. We are all here because of the legacy of faith we have received from someone. As we celebrate World Communion Sunday and share bread and wine today, let us remember our ancestors in faith and our Christian sisters and brothers who are celebrating World Communion today all around the world. As we receive bread and wine, let the heavenly food strengthen our faith so that we can live out that faith with our words and actions. Let us dream big like a mustard seed and grow into powerful disciples of Jesus. As I strive to be worthy of my great great great great grand master Beethoven, let us strive to live a Christian life worthy of our teacher Jesus and all the good ancestors in faith, so that we can also leave a powerful legacy of faith behind. So, the legacy of faith continues…