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Thinking About the Demands of This Season

For this season of Advent, we all live in this tension between imitating and differentiating. I would say that it is a matter for all of us, as believers, of being influenced by the world or to be influencer to the world.

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December 4, 2022

Thinking About the Demands of This Season

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December 4, 2022

Who Really Owns This Season?

I want us to shake our fantasy of Christmas by checking ourselves about who really owns this season? We believers and followers are called to live differently—striving not to conform to what a consumerism world has been, but to keep awake and to shape our lives to reflect the hope of things to come.

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November 27, 2022

What the Rich Man Should Have Done

In today’s passage, the rich man and the poor man were very different in life, but very alike in death. Who would have thought that this social loser, the poor man, would be welcomed and embraced by Father Abraham? Another point I draw to our attention is that the poor man only had a name, Lazarus. While the poor man was a nameless and homeless person on earth, he had a name and home in the next age.

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November 20, 2022

When Divestment Becomes an Investment

In today’s passage, as God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, Moses declared a Jubilee as God’s will—every fifty years a person must give back to the people. Jubilee was a concrete, material, and economic act that was undertaken with discipline and intentionality. It was neither just a kind giving nor a good charity nor a religious action. It was about ethical and faithful action, proclaiming that God is an ultimate owner and master of money and property.

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November 13, 2022

A New Math and a New Calculation

In today’s passage, the Sadducees were trying to catch Jesus as they tried to trick him, to expose him as a dangerous fraud. Their reasoning was simple, to extend their mathematic practices—one plus one is two—into future possibilities, assuming that it would all be the same.

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November 6, 2022

May God Bless Our Journey

In today’s passage, the book of Numbers, chapter 6, is the one that many preachers use for the benediction, the last act of worship that is followed by the final music. Just as we are morphed when we enter to be one body of Christ, we are morphed when we leave this space to be one community of faith in the world, outside of the church building. The question for us today is how well we move back from worship to our daily life—from morphed or separated or sacred back to real or complicated or secularized life.

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October 30, 2022

Seeking the Way Through and Beyond Nightmares

Nighttime is an odd time in human life, indicating that is why most children never want to go to bed. It is that time which we cannot manage, but people of faith are drawn to God as a source of safety when there is no other source of safety, and as a source of presence when the world feels absent.

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October 23, 2022

The Stories of “yes” from “no”

In today’s passage, God hears the cries of Israel, and sees the needs of Israel. Then, God answers decisively. God gives water. God gives the water of life. Yes even in the wilderness; yes even from Rock, yes even from scarcity, yes to thirst, yes even from suffering.

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October 16, 2022

Keep Shaping Our Peculiar Identity

Today’s passage tells us about how the Israelites were so worried about their peculiar identity which was under assault by coercive pressure during the 70 years of Babylonian exile. And the passage also questions us whether we have peculiar identity as believers and Christians. In the race to be faithful, I want to share three things we need to remember to shape our peculiar identity.

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October 2, 2022

For sure, today’s gospel reading is not a just happy miracle tale. So much better if Mark had not written down what ought not to be there in our story of faith—in verse 52, it says, “They did not understand about the loaves. Their minds had been closed so that they resisted God’s ways.”

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September 25, 2022

Second, God cannot be trapped in our thoughts and wishes. The passage tells us that other than our own thought, we trust God has a plan for us. Other than our own way, we believe God makes a new way. Other than our own wishes, we follow and seek God’s new visions.

Today’s passages, chapter 51 and 43, were originally written for the Israelites who lost their nation, and became captives of Babylon about 70 years, a period of discouragement, oppression, and depression. Within such context, the Israelites were reminded, “Do not remember former things.”

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September 18, 2022

“By faith” might be an answer to all the problems we have, but we are often tempted seeking easier answers “by might and by power,” “by silver and gold,” “by sword and spear.” Against all these options, today’s passage, well-known as “the list of heroes of faith,” before us tells us again in a very simple way, by faith, by faith, and by faith.

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September 11, 2022

We are often tempted to think that we know about God’s plans or God’s wills or God’s ways, misunderstanding that God might be trapped in our dimension. We wish we could put God into our small pocket, and want to carry God 24/7. However, God stands outside the competitive, coercive of practices of Babylon, holding to another purpose, in spite of every compromise, against every seduction.

Mark does not explain what happened nor even comment in a way that inspires readers’ holy imaginations—the two times a miracle to feed five thousand and then four thousand. Two times a little bit of food—five loaves and two fish and then seven loaves and a few fish. Two times, Jesus’s holy and sacramental words that transform the world—Jesus took, he blessed; he broke; and he gave. Two times great abundance—twelve baskets left over and then seven baskets left over.

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September 4, 2022

Today’s passage tells us about a different type of encounter-story with God as Paul looked back to Moses and Jesus, reminding us that we have the core of God’s holiness that reshapes and redefines ourselves.

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August 28, 2022

Lastly, our calling is a departure. For the Israelites, the Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy was an invitation and permit. It was God’s vision that opened their eyes and hearts to see their time of slavery differently.

In today’s reading from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 9, he offered a simple, but bad triple-bragging - “Do not let the wise boast of their wisdom; Do not let the mighty boast of their might; and Do not let the wealthy boast of their wealth.”

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August 21, 2022

In today’s passage, Joseph was willing to host the hidden, mysterious, and unresolved purpose of God for his life that was beyond his control, even if it meant swallowing his anger and hate. Joseph was not going to continue the vicious cycle of fear and hate and violence that his brothers had begun.

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August 14, 2022

Likewise, we often feel like we live in the world of Babylon. We, perhaps, are on our own trip to depart our own Babylon and to go back to our true identity as people of God. The bad news for us is that our trip to be and act like people of God is not like boarding on a luxurious cruise. Rather, we sometimes feel like we stay in the rat race. So, we are often tired, exhausted, and too overwhelmed to run another rat step in the rat race.

In today’s passage, the story of Daniel is about Jews trying to maintain their faith identity—being faithful--in a complicated social environment where they had to deal with real worldly power. The point I’d like to draw our attention to in this story is how we remain being faithful in a complicated world and how we keep our faith without compromise.

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August 7, 2022

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus knew all about the book of Deuteronomy, as he quoted it often. Jesus said to the man, “Follow me, looking at him, and loving him, saying ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

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July 31, 2022

The departure is to leave our own rat race and go back to our peculiar identity--the recipient of the free gifts and the ones who can put down their own thoughts and wishes in order to seek God’s own plans and thoughts. In the meantime, we may have been given a “visa” which is today’s passage, so that we can go out in joy even if our departure is also delayed. What is better news for us is that we all have this church, like the lounges at the airport during the time when our departure is delayed.

While the world basically uses power to shut things down, to silence new possibilities, or to intimidate newness or new beginnings that threaten, we, as a faith community and Christians, are called to seek a different kind of power--making life possible in our deadness, making healing possible from all kinds of our old disabilities, and making hope possible from our deadly situations.

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July 17, 2022