2 Timothy 1:1-14/ Psalm 137/ Luke 17:5-10
Let Us Be Fed So We Can Work
Hungry for Something
We all know what it’s like to be desperately hungry and weak, or desperately thirsty. But We don’t only get hungry or thirsty for food and drink. We sometimes also hunger and thirst for something else.
You might find it difficult to believe, but I haven’t always enjoyed classical music. During the two years I lived in Kenya, with the extreme stress from the culture shock, I found myself suddenly craving for classical music. I was used to going to concerts and museums, and not having access to these cultural contents, I felt like my soul had dried out. I am NOT saying Kenyans are without culture; just not the things I am used to. Anyway, I asked my brother for help and he sent me some CDs.
Yearning in Exile
When we are hungry, we crave for food. Since I have been living in Canada for 10 years, I crave for Korean culture and food. That is why I watch Korean TV dramas and drive to Kelowna for Korean grocery shopping. Korean culture (food, language, and traditions) is essential to the wellbeing of Koreans. We feel grounded and stable in our cultures.
In today’s Psalm, we witnessed another kind of craving or yearning. Israelites were in exile, and as God’s chosen people, they yearned for their Holy City, also known as Zion or Jerusalem. Their identity as the people of God was threatened since they didn’t have access to their culture and religious rituals. They were living in an alien soil as foreigners. People of Israel need their culture and religious practices to feel rooted, stable, and well in their soul.
Holy Communion; Christian Ritual Based on Faith
Today is World Communion Sunday in which we celebrate the most quintessential Christian ritual of a symbolic meal. As we need water and food for our body to survive, we Christians need Christian rituals and culture to feel rooted, stable, and well in our soul. As with worship services, collective reading of Psalms, or giving to charity and volunteering for the common good, we need the Holy Communion to know that we belong to God’s community led by Jesus.
This ritual is an essential part of our Christian culture. As a community like any other, we Christians share rituals, the religious language, and faith. Holy Communion is a ritual based on faith because we take the communion elements believing that they are the body and blood of Christ, even metaphorically. By taking bread and wine in a ritual celebration, we know that we are a Christian family and our soul receives the strength to go out and live as disciples. God’s people “live by faith and not by sight,” to quote Apostle Paul.
The Power of Faith
Today’s Gospel story teaches us the power of faith and what we should do with it. Jesus says that faith can move a tree, which can seem a bit strange to our ears. What it means is that, with faith, we can metaphorically move trees and mountains of obstacles and challenges to live as the followers of Jesus and bring God’s reign here on earth. Ok, we get it; but so what?
As we read in verses 7-10, we should faithfully and humbly do God’s work. As our body receives energy from food and water to live, our soul receives from the Holy Communion the power of the Holy Spirit to live as God’s people.
We receive the power of the Holy Spirit by faith, which includes the spirit of love, power to do God’s work, and self-control to restrain from sins, as we read in 2 Timothy. Our faith and rituals as Christians have been shared for about 2000 years since the followers of Jesus formed a community of faith. That is why we speak of the faith of our fathers (and mothers).
In the Korean Church, we call Abraham our father in faith, which recognizes that our faith has a long legacy, that we didn’t just come out of nowhere. Timothy got it from his mother and grandmother; we got it from either our parents or other people of faith. Faith gives us strength to endure ordeals while doing God’s work because we are called to live out the Gospel of Jesus.
Therefore, as we take the Holy Communion today, let us remember that we who take part in this sacred ritual are one big Christian family. Let us remember that through this sacred ritual, we are grounded in God’s love and receive power and courage to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us be fed by God’s Spirit because we have a lot of work to do for God.