Since our special education event, there
has been no opportunity to share my gratitude and thank you all because I was a
way on my study leave.
Thank you all for your wonderful
support, and care, and for putting your hands and hearts together to make the
event a success. It was such a special time together, learning and joining in
fellowship with one another.
Each of you offered your gifts:
leadership for the programs, working in the kitchen, singing in the
choir, giving a ride, offering a meal, taking a tour and giving hands to all
the needs of the event. It was possible because of each of your efforts,
contributions, and gifts.
We are the church, the body of
Christ. We love, care for one another, and learned that we are the people
of God, to bring peace for the world and among us now when we need it the most,
in this very unsettled world we live in.
One of the learnings from Rev. Kim, our
guest speaker, was that we are a unified congregation and we should be proud of
ourselves and what we have achieved, two different languages and cultures to
join in making God’s dream come true. Many churches and denominations in
the world are not unified, but divided. She was very impressed with what we had
done and what we are seeking to do as a church, open to all, especially as a
first generation of immigrants.
She wondered how much we honor ourselves
as seeking to be true Christians in this context.
During my study leave last week in
Edmonton, I met with my old colleague for lunch. We had done lots of work
together for intercultural ministry in the Edmonton presbytery. He
said, "We are a front-line intercultural church. we are giving an example,
with keeping our own traditional values and cultures yet, open our doors to
everyone. It is possible, not only because of English translation apps and
tools, but because our dream is big and we have a vision in faith.
He was so impressed to hear that we are willing to become an
One thing I learned from the
intercultural Adventure seminar last week when I took on my study leave in
Edmonton, was from Dr. Don Schweitzer, Pro from St. Andrews College. He
mentioned in his presentation about the Holy Spirit, saying, "When the
United church was formed in 1925 three denominations that had been and still
were life-giving to their members, came to an end. They gave up their
identities for the sake of a broader and more fitting fellowship. For the
United Church to be created, the denominations that entered it had to be
willing to die to the old for the sake of the new."
Luke invites us this morning, to learn
from the story of Zacchaeus.
This story invites us to reflect on our
church situation and ourselves and who we are at this time. Especially,
learning from our special event, and moving forward to become a true
intercultural congregation in our faith community.
We don’t know much about
Zacchaeus. Luke tells us that he was a chief tax collector. He was
sort of like the foreman or overseer of a group of tax collectors in the city
of Jericho. With this city being a hub city with many travelers and
business people going through it everyday, he would have had the opportunity to
grow very rich. The Chief Tax Collectors got a percentage of all the
taxes coming into their area.
As far as his own people could see, he
grew rich by making them poorer. So, they hated him. he was a tax collector for
Jews, he was a sinner and was perceived as morally corrupt and ritually unclean
because he worked for the Romans at the expense of his own people.
It seemed, Zacchaeus had everything a
person could want: a fine home, nice clothes, plenty of money to spend any way
he chose. But, inside his big house Zacchaeus was lonely somehow, he was not
satisfied with himself. Zacchaeus was unhappy. But he did not know how to
change things. When he learned that Jesus was on his way to Jericho, Zacchaeus
decided to go and see him.
Jesus had already stated the
impossibility of a rich man entering the Kingdom of God. But something has
happened to Zacchaeus. He goes against all social conventions of the time
and climbs a tree to get a better view of Jesus. Surprisingly, Jesus saw him in
the tree and called him by name inviting him to engage in a personal
encounter. By inviting himself to Zacchaeus' house for dinner,
Jesus gave Zacchaeus the honor of being
the host. Jesus invited himself, saying, “you honor me.” Jesus must
honor Zacchaeus by being his guest. In turn, Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus and
experiences joy. Encountering Jesus is transformational for Zacchaeus; not only
does Jesus affirm Zacchaeus’ biological descent, but he also affirms his
Think about if we would be in
Zacchaeus ‘s situation. what a gift he has received from Jesus. Jesus is so
kind to him and wide open to the fact that he has taken advantage of his own
people by collecting taxes to get richer, but Jesus does not judge him and
offers him a chance to be host, with Jesus as his honored guest.
How were the onlookers who were quick to
judge Zacchaeus’ guilt transformed? No doubt they had good intentions to
love God and neighbor (as their faith taught), but they were still quick to
judge and unwilling to accept or deal with those with whom they
What an invitation of kindness Jesus
offered to Zacchaeus so that he has transformed fully.
Is this transformation possible for us?
Can we live with genuine loving, kindness,
relationships be formed in the future among us all?
As Jesus declares, salvation – as well as community – includes everyone.
During our event, Rev. Kim, our
guest speaker and I were honored guests at the dining tables for meals and
teas. Did you know that some of our church members had opened their arms
and hearts wide, and showed kindness, and welcomed her in their midst.
Rev. Kim was so impressed and felt
honored by their kindness and deep caring.
I learned that our church is already
being transformed and transforming, salvation is here among us through your
She told us to never say, "I am too
old. “We can rebuild the church and age doesn’t matter. Whatever we
dream for our church will come true. Let’s stick to God’s promise and be
faithful. People who have identities as Jesus’ disciples have joy and
Don’t be afraid to get hurt. Let’s
reject the spirit of judgment and condemnation. Let’s go forward to love and
persuade people. We have the power of Agape. Jesus Christ is the head of
the church. We are part of Jesus Christ. Christ through the work of the Holy
I want to share with you my impression
of our new staff. They are so kind to us; they take initiative and not
only do their job, but give us the gift of kindness and smiles.
I am so thankful for these gifts
of kindness and love.
Also, they have shared with me
that our church members care about and are kind to them too. they feel so
welcome and they are honored to be part of our church.
We are ready to go, moving forward, to
be transformed. We are the hosts who invite all strangers with kindness as
Jesus does to Zacchaeus. Luke invites us again this morning through
Jesus’s invitation to Zacchaeus who asked him to be host.
Jesus was honored by his host and Zacchaeus was accepted with the
kindness of Jesus who did not judge him, but simply loved him.
Let’s learn and live what Jesus did for
Zacchaeus, honoring others without any judgmental attitude but kindness.
Jesus’ is kind to us, and accepts us all the time for who we are.
When I came back to the office this
week, Lina gave me a big smile and said welcome back!
Her simple words reminded me that this
is a place I belong, working in ministry, in this loving community of