Reflection May 15, 2022 (Korea Peace Appeal)
Micah 4:1-4/ Psalm 11/ John 14:15-27
My parents were in elementary school during the Korean War. My mother’s family had to retreat to the south, and that is where my grandmother gave birth to my youngest uncle. The baby was put in a big box because they didn’t have a crib. That is how my uncle gained his nickname “Big Box.”
My aunts and uncles still call him Big Box and laugh, but when you think about it, it is no joke experiencing pregnancy and childbirth during a war. I am not a biological mother, but I know how serious childbirth is. I have watched a lot of childbirth stories on Call the Midwife. Can we imagine how scared my grandma must have been?
Separation of Families
I have another story, which did not happen during the war but as a result of it.
Mr. Han was a North Korean who got incarcerated by the South Korea for transporting North Korean spies. My parents visited him in prison, and eventually sponsored him as he was integrated into the South Korean society. They found him a job and introduced him to the woman he would later marry. They had a son together. Overall, his life was good until he recently passed away. I recently shared this news with you, and we prayed for his son.
What I didn’t share at the time was that he had a wife and children in North Korea whom he never saw again. One of the biggest tragedies caused by the Korean War was the separation of families.
When I was a child, North and South Korea made a one-time deal and let their people seek out their separated loved ones. It was broadcast on TV, and whenever someone found their family and broke down wailing and crying, all the viewers cried too. Of course, after the highly emotional reuniting, they had to be separated again since they lived in separate Koreas. They were fortunate though: a lot of Koreans died without ever finding their loved ones. It has been 70 years.
Truce and Tension
During these 70 years with the separation of North and South Korea, what we often forget is the fact that the war technically never ended. Truce doesn’t mean the end of a war. Truce is not peace.
My people have been living in constant tension due to this situation. We don’t know when North Korea will attack. A lot of North Koreans try to escape their oppressive regime, risking their lives. A lot of men, women, and children die trying to cross the Chinese border. That has been the reality in my homeland for the past 70 years.
That is why, at the invitation of the National Council of Churches in Korea, our United Church of Canada and our sister church in South Korea are participating in the Korea Peace Appeal and the 10,000-signature campaign.
Israel’s Yearning for Peace
The history of Israel has also been full of wars and suffering of the people. By the time the Old Testament prophets appeared preaching God’s messages, what they needed the most was peace.
As Micah proclaimed, they dreamed of swords becoming plowshares, and spears becoming pruning hooks, and no more wars. This is God’s vision for our world; to stop wars that destroy lives and promote giving lives, for example, by producing more food with plowshares and pruning hooks.
In John chapter 14, Jesus promises the gift of the Holy Spirit after he is gone. The Holy Spirit is a spirit of peace that will give the followers of Jesus the kind of peace that the mortal world cannot provide.
This passage is widely used to be comforting when our hearts are troubled, but peace is not only for individuals. Because God’s vision of peace is closely connected with justice, the message of peace is not limited to an individual peace of mind.
In God’s realm, there is no peace without justice. God’s peace is not defined by the lack of violence and outward conflict; it has to be accompanied by the presence of justice. As we read in Psalm 11, “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
Korea Peace Appeal Movement
As we reflect on God’s vision of peace and seek to be God’s peacemakers in the world, let us participate in the Korea Peace Appeal to end the war with a peace agreement, let the Korean peninsula be free of nuclear threat, resolve conflicts with dialogues, to break from the vicious cycle of arms race and invest in human security and environmental sustainability.
The end of the Korea War is way overdue. Let us participate in this movement to finally bring peace to Korea. This is the Asian Heritage Month message this year.