Reflection January 19, 2020 by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
John 1:35-42/ Isaiah 49:1-7
Come and See
Do you know what Netflix is? It’s where we can watch movies or TV shows. When I was thinking of subscribing to Netflix, I was invited to use it for free for a month and then decide if I wanted to keep on. I would only start paying for the subscription fee from the second month. And if during the trial period, I wouldn’t be satisfied with the service, I could cancel it. But Netflix is not the only company that allows testing before selling their service or product. Think of shopping for a car; we get to test drive to see if we like it. It’s because to know something, we have to experience it firsthand. People are the same; we have to experience them to get to know them.
Today, we read the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. Before we look at John’s account Continue reading →
Reflection January 12, 2020 (Baptism of the Lord) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 42:1-9/ Acts 10:34-43/ Matthew 3:13-17
Baptism: Profession and Commitment
Have you ever been married? Have you ever made a vow of any kind? I have been married once, and this is how it happened; “Do you think it’s time?” “Yes, I think it’s time.” There was no marriage proposal. And it was going to be pretty much the same this time, but Attila surprised me with a marriage proposal while we were out at the Last Spike, after we set the wedding date. Nevertheless, it was a lovely surprise. He got down in his knees next to the railway track. Anyway, marriage is a serious commitment, which a lot of people these days avoid. They fear this commitment as if they are joining a gang, and the existing members crack their knuckles and say things like, “Now that you’re one of us, you WILL act like one of us.” Any kind of commitment is a serious business.
As a church minister, I consider baptism and church membership the same way. Not a lot of people want to make the commitment. Today, we celebrate the baptism of Jesus and reflect on our own baptisms, whether we were baptized or not. Baptism is like getting married. A couple can lovingly live with one another all their lives without getting married; it’s an extra step in a long-term relationship where the couple wants to publicly declare their love and commitment for one another. Likewise, one can start and maintain a loving relationship with God without publicly professing this relationship through baptism, or have a loving relationship with a congregation without an official membership. Baptism is Continue reading →
Reflection January 5, 2020 (Epiphany) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 60:1-6/ Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14/ Matthew 2:1-12
The Light of God That Came to Us
On Christmas Eve, I confessed that I have a mild OCD, and because of that the Nativity display bothers me; and that I can’t mix two different types of cereal in one bowl. Today’s personal confession is that my eyesight is getting worse, and I have cataract growing in one eye, which eventually will require a surgery. Since I can’t see very clearly even with my glasses on, driving after dark is a challenge, especially if the ground is wet. One evening, Attila was coming back from his work trip. It was late, he was too tired to drive to Armstrong where his company is and back home, and there was too much snow for him to park his huge truck by the side of the road in front of our place. I had to go to the truck stop and bring him home. It was dark and the road was wet, reflecting light and making it very difficult for me Continue reading →
Christmas Eve 2019 Message (The Birth of God’s Reign) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Today, I would like to start with truth or false. Let’s test your biblical knowledge, shall we? First, baby Jesus was born in a stable; truth or false? There were three wise men; truth or false? Wise men came to the stable to see baby Jesus; truth or false? The nativity story is in all four gospels; true or false? Not a lot of people read the Bible closely; their biblical knowledge is based on the Bible stories they hear, which may or may not be accurate. For those of you who don’t worship with me Sunday mornings, every week, I reveal one thing about myself so my congregation can get to know me. Today’s one fact about myself is that I have a mild OCD. My books have to be organized alphabetically according to the authors’ names. My father mixes Corn Flakes and Frosty Flakes to control the sweetness level, but I cannot mix two different cereals in one bowl. As you can guess, trail mixes make me feel uncomfortable. The reason why I am confessing my OCD today is because the nativity scene makes me feel uncomfortable because it’s not Continue reading →
Reflection – December 22, 2019 (Advent 4) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 7:10-16/ Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19/ Matthew 1:18-25
The Love of God – Emmanuel
Have you ever heard of this saying, “Friends don’t let friends (blank)”? Friends don’t let friend make stupid decisions, for example. I’ve also heard a choir director say, “Choir directors don’t let choir members clap on one and three.” When I was studying to become a teacher at University of New Brunswick, my best friend was a guy named Siva. One day, I told my friends about a stupid decision I made. All the other friends were like, “It’s none of my business; I accept your decision,” but Siva got mad at me. He couldn’t condone my stupid decision. That’s when I knew he was a true pal, that he truly loved me.
But it’s not only between friends; parents shouldn’t let their children get everything they want. Those of you who are parents will know the challenge of making difficult or unpleasant decisions for your children because it’s good for them. You may force feed vegetables as they cry in protest; my son Cedric does that a lot because he’s a picky eater. Or you might watch them attempt their first step and fall. You don’t only do pleasant things with your children because doing what is best for them is love, even the difficult, unpleasant, and heartbreaking ones; overindulging is not love.
Today, we heard the word “Emmanuel” more than once in our scripture readings. The Chosen One of God Continue reading →
Reflection 121519 (Advent 3) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 35:1-10/ Psalm 146:5-10/ Matthew 11:2-11
The Joy of God’s Reign
Today, I will start with a very personal anecdote of mine. I used to be a proud Methodist. The reason why I made a difficult decision to leave my beloved mother church was over the LGBTQ issues. I was so frustrated at how the Methodist Church treats the members of the LGBTQ community with such ambiguity and hypocrisy. So, I went to Montreal to pursue graduate studies while trying to join the United Church of Canada. The second Sunday I’ve ever worshipped at my United Church in Montreal was the first day I met their minister. He is an older man with silvery hair. During his sermon that day, he told us the story of a gay man facing stigma and discrimination and I had tears in my eyes. After the sermon was my first Holy Communion in the United Church of Canada, and the tears that started during the sermon never stopped until way after the communion. I was alone, I didn’t yet know anyone there, and I was embarrassed about crying like an idiot. They were tears of sublime joy. I had known about my new church’s inclusive policies, and yes, that was the reason Continue reading →
Reflection 120819 (Advent 2) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 11:1-10/ Romans 15:7-13/ Matthew 3:1-12
Righteousness and Peace Will Kiss
I think I’ve already told you this, but Doctor Who is my favorite TV show of all times. The protagonist of the show who is simply called “the Doctor” travels in space and time in his space and time machine that looks like an old English police phone box. Because he travels in the universe, he meets all kinds of alien races, promoting open-mindedness and the idea that diversity is beautiful. One of the alien races the Doctor meets along the journey is the most invaded species in the universe. The people of that planet who look like the Whoville people from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, whenever there is a foreign invasion, receive the invaders without fighting. Their motto is “Resistance is futile”, and their national anthem is “Glory to (blank),” to insert the name of their invaders. They don’t resist, so there is no bloodshed to crush the rebels, but is this peace really peace? Not doing anything when one is oppressed and mistreated, is this peace?
The scriptural lesson on peace that we already learned so far is that peace should be based on justice. We examined the image of life-destroying weapons turning into life-giving farming tools as an analogy for peace. Today, we read about another image of peace from the Book of Isaiah. In this image, the wolf is with the lamb, the leopard is with the young goat, the cow is with the bear, and a baby plays with a dangerous snake. The cow and the bear graze together, and the lion eats straw; although, no, this text is not a justifiable proof for vegans to argue that we were created to be vegans. We should not take this “carnivores-eating-plants” thing Continue reading →
Reflection 120119 (Advent 1) by Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Isaiah 2:1-5/ Romans 13:11-14/ Matthew 24:36-44
Hope: Waiting for the Divine
Do you or have you ever had a wish list? Wish list contains things we want or things we want to do, now or some day. For me, one object I want is a beautiful vintage publication of a Jane Austen’s novel. One of the many things I would like to do in my lifetime is to learn another language. German is first on my list, but I also want to learn Hungarian and Arabic because my husband is Hungarian and my best friend is from the Middle East. I also want the power to teleport, but that might require a lot of effort and determination, don’t you think? Now, these are long term wishes; what do you want for Christmas? I’m sure, just like me, there are a lot of things you want to have and do. We often talk about hopes and dreams, but the theme of first Advent Sunday is about a different kind of hope. Wish and hope are different. We will learn that hope comes from God. Continue reading →
Reflection November 10, 2019 Rev Sun-Young (Sunny) Kim
Micah 4:1-5/ Romans 8:31-39/ John 15:9-17
Peace, Justice, and Compassion
Are you familiar with Wonder Woman? I don’t read comic books much and I didn’t like the Wonder Woman TV series while growing up because even to my young eyes, Wonder Woman’s costume seemed like the exploitation of the female body. But two years ago, the movie version of Wonder Woman came out. Here’s today’s one fact about myself; I cried watching that movie, and now Wonder Woman is my favorite superhero. I’m not sure if you know this about Wonder Woman, but she is the daughter of the Amazon queen; so in the movie, we see a lot of Amazon warrior women training and fighting. Seeing strong and tough warrior women is of course awesome and empowering as a woman myself, as well as all the Wonder Woman’s battle scenes in World War I (yes, by the way, she goes to London during World War I in this movie); but what was really touching was why she was fighting. As an Amazon, she believes that it is her (and their) sacred duty to defend the world and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. In London and in the battle fields, she sees injured people or a bombed village and her heart breaks. The most awesome and touching scene was when her human partners insist that they cannot cross the No Man’s Land to get to the suffering village. She defiantly steps in and crosses the No Man’s Land, in slow motion for dramatic effect, and deflects whatever the Germans shoot at her with her wrist bands and shield. With her deflecting all bullets and whatever else, her partners can cross the No Man’s Land to go help the village. Wonder Woman fights because of her compassion towards suffering people. Compassion motivates her to fight. Wonder Woman teaches us that peace is not possible without justice for the suffering people, and that the effort for justice is based on compassion.
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. Today, let us explore two questions; first, what should we remember, and second, how should we remember them. What are we remembering? We remember the horrors of the wars and say, “Never again” and those who fought against evil. I am not only talking about the veterans who fought in the battle fields; for example, there were brave and compassionate people who risked their lives to save Jewish people from the Nazis. Some of them got caught, tortured, and killed because they refused to give up the list of the children they were hiding. We should remember all those brave people who fought, either in the battle fields or behind closed doors. We should also remember what horrors we experienced through wars. My parents were children when the Korean War happened. They remember the fear as they evacuated to the south. My parents were lucky, but a lot of families got separated, never to see each other again. War is terrible and traumatic; we should remember this. Now, how should we remember them? Short answer is that we should keep fighting for peace and justice in our world. Let us elaborate.
We read about God’s vision of peace in the Book of Micah. In God’s vision, weapons are turned into farming tools. Weapons cause suffering and death, but farming tools give life by producing food. God’s vision for peace is about saving lives instead of harming them in any way. God wants peace and justice for all God’s people because of love. In the Book of Romans, we heard Apostle Paul’s heartfelt words about the love that binds God and us; “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” From Romans, we learn about the love between God and us, but in the Gospel of John, we hear the quintessential Christian commandment that comes from the love of God; “Abide in my love,” says Jesus. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” How do we love one another? Jesus says the greatest love is laying one’s life for friends. So, here‘s the summary of God’s love; we should love one another because God loves us, and we should love one another to the point of making sacrifices for one another, not just dying for others.
We are celebrating Remembrance Day and reflecting on whom and what to remember and how to remember them. There have been major wars, which is why we celebrate Remembrance Day. There are those who fought and died. There are those who fought and survived but are suffering PTSD. One of my members in Kimberley United Church was a veteran; he is in his nineties and still can’t sleep at night because of the images of terror that hit him. We should think about how we should take care of our veterans. But also, in the context of peace effort, we should think about all suffering people of our world; refugees and asylum seekers, members of the marginalized groups who are constantly suffering discrimination and bigotry. Because peace is not possible without justice, we will never know true peace until we can beat all forms of hate and bigotry. In God’s vision of peace, killing tools turn into life-giving tools; then our vision for peace should be spreading tolerance and love instead of hate and bigotry. How should we remember our veterans and the horror of wars? By working towards a society full of love instead of hate. Since peace is not possible without justice, we should work towards a just society; this is how we should remember. Let this Remembrance Day reflections and the scripture readings be God’s call for us to embrace and welcome all God’s people and not to stay silent in the face of hate and injustice. Let us be filled with God’s compassion.
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!