Reflection November 03, 2019 by Rev Sunny
Ephesians 1:11-23/ Luke 6:20-31
The Breaths of Our Ancestors
We started today’s worship with the hymn, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing because today is the day we honour our ancestors, and coming from a Methodist background, I personally honour my Methodist ancestors. Our Methodist father John Wesley had a brother, who was closely involved in the early Methodist movement, Charles Wesley, whom I call Uncle Charles, who wrote a lot of hymns; O for a Thousand Tongues is one of his most famous hymns. Today’s confession about myself is that I hated my history classes at school because it seemed like history was only about memorizing dates and names. Attila is smiling because he is a history buff. But now that I’m an adult, I developed interest in history. Now that I am a little interested in history, sometimes I fantasize about meeting historical figures. You might have noticed this, but I daydream and fantasize a lot. Anyway, I feel connection and intimacy to my favorite people who lived in the past. For example, fantasizing about meeting John Wesley makes my Methodist identity stronger. Sometimes, I sit at my piano in the morning and think of my favorite author Jane Austen because practising piano was her morning ritual. I could go on for another hour, but I won’t.
Today, we celebrate the saints, our ancestors in faith; Methodist father John Wesley, Martin Luther of the Reformation, Martin Luther King Jr. of the civil rights movement, Mother Theresa, and so on. Personally, my spirituality was highly influenced by Henry Nouwen, the prominent Christian author and Catholic priest. Then there are saints in our personal lives; my maternal grandmother whose ring I inherited was a passionate Christian, and my maternal great grandfather was a lay leader in the Korean Christian history who spearheaded the first Korean Bible translation project, whose first Korean Bible and a King James Bible also I inherited. What we inherit from our ancestors may define who we are. In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul says we are God’s inheritors through Christ. The Church of Christ is the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth, and his gospel teachings are a rich spiritual inheritance.
Let us celebrate the rich spiritual inheritance we have received through the gospel of Jesus and through exemplary Christians who came before us. Let us celebrate the wisdom and teachings of our ancestors in faith. In our Call to Worship, we called the names of St. Francis, St. Patrick, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Oscar Romero. St. Francis was a wealthy merchant’s son who abandoned all material wealth to follow Jesus in poverty and humility. Oscar Romero was an Archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador, who spoke out against poverty, social injustice, torture, and so on. He was assassinated in the end and was declared a saint. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who participated in the plan to assassinate Hitler out of his Christian ethics. The plan failed and he was executed. And St. Patrick, we are familiar with him because of St. Patrick’s Day. He brought Christianity to Ireland.
I said what we inherit from our ancestors may define who we are because they have influence over us; they influence what kind of people we become. For example, I learned that humility is the greatest Christian value from both the Gospel of Jesus and from Henry Nouwen, my favorite Christian writer. Thanks to their influence, I aspire to be humble. When we hear Jesus say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God,” or “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” we are hearing the wisdom of our ancestors who teach us how to be the followers of Jesus and the children of God.
Today as we remember our saints, our ancestors of faith, let us listen to their spirits, their breaths that teach us wisdom and guide our paths. We learn from them about God’s reign of love and justice. We learn from them that we should treat each other as we want to be treated. We learn from them there is value and reward in faithfully following Jesus. Let us learn from them and follow their footsteps in working for God’s kingdom on earth. Today, let us give thanks for their gifts and legacy. And let us become ancestors to those who come after us; let us live in such a way that our descendants will be inspired by our legacy. Thanks be to God!