Category Archives: Pastor Lee’s Messages

Pastor Lee’s Messages

A Message from sunjae

1 May God’s love and peace be with you. There is an experience that we all share in common without any exception. We just get to know each other. Some of you may see me for the first time in this worship service video. Nevertheless, there is an experience that we share in common. It is the experience of the new normal. It is the experience of a sudden worldwide change. Last March, I had a meeting with SPRC members for the first time. I was very grateful for the conversation that we shared. I was very excited about the new appointment. After the meeting, coming back to MA where I used to live, I had to call my church members. And I said we have to cancel Sunday service. That was the beginning. I thought I could have in-person service anytime soon. But, it was not the case.

Since this situation began, there have been many changes that we needed to get familiar with. For example, we needed to get familiar with being at home. As some of you may know, I had to keep my quarantine as I moved from a different state. So, I wanted to visit some famous places in Vermont before my ministry starts on July 1st, but I couldn’t. I only imagine the difficulty of those who are not able to go outside because of one’s health condition. And, we had to get familiar with using technologies like Zoom. My wife Myungso came to serve two churches in Middlebury and East Middlebury, and she is having worship service on Zoom. This is unprecedented. And, we needed to be familiar with wearing a mask wherever we go. Have you ever received a mask as a gift from someone? I had never received a mask as a gift before. But, when pandemic started, my parents living in South Korea sent me a bunch of masks as a gift. So, I shared them with essential workers. I cannot forget how much they appreciated about the masks. During this unprecedented time, we just started working on another big change. You, as a church and I, as a pastor, are experiencing a big change which is the pastoral transition. I think some of you might be surprised as a different person is leading this service. And this transition is such a big change for me as well.

There is a quotation that remains in my heart for a while. It says that the map that we have in our hands does not work in today’s situation. We do have a map. But, we are not so sure if it works today. In the past, we only have to follow the map. Then, we were able to go to the places that we wanted to go. But now, it looks like the terrain has changed. Reading newspapers, we can know how many of our neighbors are striving to adapt to the new environment. The way of doing business has changed. The way of social gathering has changed. The way of shaking hands has changed. I believe some of our church members could have been significantly influenced by the current changes. So, some of you might want to ask me, “then do you have the new map? Do you how we can get there? Let me be honest with you. I am so sorry. I do not have the new map. The thing that I can do is to walk with you outside of the map.

2 In the Bible, there are many people who were driven out of their maps. They had to travel to a lot of uncertainties. Think about the very first story of the Bible. Adam and Eve used to live in the garden of Eden. They were driven out of the garden. Since then, they started wandering in the east of the garden where they had never been to. It is not just a personal story of the couple. It shows our existential situation. Other than Adam and Eve, we can name the people who had to travel in their lives. Think about Abraham. He traveled during his whole life. The Bible says he left his father’s house, not knowing where to go. His son, Isaac, must have wandered for a long time as well. Jacob also left his father’s house when he was young. He had to travel to places that he had never heard of. He had to deal with unceasing changes.

Let’s think about the people of God in the land of Egypt. They lived there for four hundred years. It means their fathers and mothers were born and grew up there. Their grandfathers and grandmothers were born and grew up there. Their great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers were born and grew up there. In God’s help, they finally started moving out of the land. Thankfully, they had a very clear destination. They should have arrived in the new land in 4 months. Even though they were walking with the elderly, taking care of many livestock, they should have arrived there in a year. But, it took 40 years for them. What did they do for 39 years? Most of the time, they actually wandered. Why did they wander? They had forgotten where they were from. They had forgotten where they were going. They had forgotten who they were. So, they wandered.

So, there is a question that we have to ask. When we face many changes today, we need to ask this question. When we are in our faith journey, when we feel like wandering, we can ask this question. Where am I from? Where am I going? My siblings in Chris, where are you from? Where are you going? There was a Buddhist monk. When he was a high school student, he shared a conversation with his teacher. One day, he said, “teacher, I am so busy.” So, the teacher asked. Do you know what you have to do hereafter? He answered. I am going to college. The teacher asked again. And then? He answered I am going to get a job. The teacher asked again. And then? He answered I am going to buy a house. The teacher asked the same question on and on and on. Finally, they reached to the last question. It was where he goes after his death. He said, “I do not know.” The teacher began to ask the same question the other way. Then where are you from? The last question was: where were you before you were in mother’s womb? He said, “I do not know.” So, the teacher said, “You don’t know where you are from. You don’t know where you are going. Then why are you busy?

How about us, my siblings in Christ. Are we aware of where we are from? Are we aware of where we are going? Are we aware of who we are? I would like to ask the same question in a different way. American Jewish teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel said the contemporary people are like messengers who have lost their messages. All of us are sent to the world to deliver a message. But most people have forgotten what message they were supposed to deliver. Do you remember the message that you were supposed to deliver?

3 In the Bible, there is a person who had these questions in his heart. He is Nicodemus. He was an Israelite Senate. He was famous. He was wealthy. He has accomplished many things in his life. But, he had many questions that he didn’t have the answers. He did not know where he was from, where he is going. He had forgotten his message to deliver. So, one day, he decided to come before Jesus. In the night, when no one could possibly see him, he came before Jesus bringing lots of questions. Do you know how Jesus answered his questions? As a way of answering the questions from Nicodemus, Jesus introduced himself. This is how he introduced himself. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Can you believe it? This is how Jesus introduced himself. Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son. Whoever believes in me will not perish, but have eternal life.” What does it mean? Jesus knew where he is from. Jesus knew where he is going. Jesus knew the message that he has to deliver. My siblings in Christ, this is how we are called to introduce ourselves as well. We can introduce ourselves that God so loved the world, that God sent us to the world. Whosoever it is, we are called to serve the people.

4 I would like to share one of my personal stories. Time to time, I remember this story because this story says who I am. This story says where I am from and the message that I have to deliver. You will be hearing this story many times while I am serving North Ferrisburgh. I have a disability in my right hand. Of course, I struggled a lot when I was a small kid. I was easily surrounded by other kids being asked why your hand is like that? My family believed that my right hand could be healed by prayer. It was the most important prayer request of my family. Whenever we sat around the table to have a meal together, I had to pray on behalf of my family. I prayed, “Lord, let this meal heal my right hand. Amen.” And then, we started having a meal. When I was twelve years old, my mother brought me to a prayer house somewhere in South Korea. She wanted me to stay there during the whole summer vacation. As she has to make a living, she left. Then I stayed there with the pastor’s family. I sincerely participated in every prayer meeting and every worship service. The only prayer that I had was to heal my right hand. Every morning, right after I woke up, I brought my right hand out of the comforter to see if it is ok now. But, the miracle that I prayed for didn’t happen.

The vacation was almost over. It was the last prayer meeting. I was desperate. I did almost everything I could do in prayer. I cried out to God. I blamed God. I intimidated God. But it didn’t work. So, I thought to myself that if God created me in this way, then there should be a reason. I started asking like this. God, why did you make me this way? Then, an image came up in my mind. A person collapsed on the road in the rain. There was no one helping the person. So, I prayed. I would like to serve people like me. I would like to serve those who struggle, those who suffer, and those who are hopeless like me. After the prayer meeting was over, a lady came up to me and said, “did you pray that you want to be a pastor? God heard your prayer.” Since then, I didn’t pray that God may heal my right hand. My mother asked me why. I said, now I don’t have to. This is where I am from. This is why I am with you as a pastor today. So, I am trying not to forget this story. My siblings in Christ, let me ask you this question again. Where are you from? Where are you going? What was your message? You don’t know the answers by chance? That is fine. We can find the answers together. That is what this community is here for. Did you happen to forget the answers? Now it is time for you to be reminded. Do you know the answers already? Then, it is time for you to hold other’s hands.

As a church, we are in the middle of a big change because the pastor has changed. It is happening in an unprecedented time. Worship service is online. People are missing in-person gatherings so much. However, amid this change, what we are called to do is very simple. It is to remember what we are meant to be. Likewise, there are many changes happening in the world. The number of confirmed cases is rising again. Many businesses are struggling. Many of our neighbors are striving to adapt to the changes. Siblings in Christ, let us be the people who can spread hope. Let us be the people who can light the candle in people’s hearts.

I would like to humbly ask for your prayers as I start a new ministry at North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church. And please pray for Pastor Kim and Ted. And don’t forget that we are still walking together hand in hand as we are going to the same destination, which is the kingdom of God. Amen.

About the Crisis at Our Southern Border

A God of love is a God of justice. From ancient times the Jewish people were urged to live out the golden rule, even if this means helping an enemy in need (Proverbs 25:21). Jesus took this further in stating that whenever you do good for the least among you, you do this for him. I know many hearts are broken by our situation at our southern U.S. border.

UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) has handed out over 46,000 health kits through church-run ministries at our border with Mexico. UMCOR is not allowed to give these items to government agencies. Go to the websites for Senators Leahy, Sanders and Rep. Welch and communicate your concerns. We will also put out blank envelopes in the pews if you wish to donate to UMCOR’s work with immigrants.

Remember that July 4th celebrates the birth of an immigrant nation. The bulk of Americans had at least one of their forebears immigrate to our country at some point. Many of our ancestors left dangerous or difficult situations to start over.

Grace and Peace, Kim

God Help Us!

Good news!  A good God, created us good for a good purpose. God also created us free, not wanting robots.  We often use our freedom for selfish choices.  We see this in the daily news.  We and our world are a mess. God help us!

And God does! God sends us Jesus, to save us.  Jesus prays, studies scripture and serves others daily.  He worships on the Sabbath, he creates community.  He goes to the cross to demonstrate the depth of God’s love. God raises Jesus from the dead as the ultimate sign that his love is stronger than sin and death.  Love – not hate, life – not death, and true community – not selfish tribalism wins.

Easter reveals God’s love is unconditional.  We can’t earn this love, we can only receive it as a gift. We can’t earn it by following a bunch of rules.  Salvation is the relationship of trusting God.  

The only rule now is, Love God, and neighbor as yourself.  The best way to do this is connecting with God’s love by daily prayer, Bible study,  service, and weekly worship with others. 

God is eager to transform us, and to work through our faithful community to reach the world.  

Happy Easter!  

Pastor Kim

Lenten Message from Pastor Kim

Christians use this time to seek to grow in love and hope as Christ’s disciples.  What makes that happen for you?  It could be making a commitment to Sunday worship, daily Bible reading and prayer, weekly study group, or service to others. 

Take up something that draws you closer to Christ.  See our Website Next Steps section for devotional suggestions.  Or borrow an NT Wright commentary in Fellowship Hall to read through a book of the New Testament with a few short pages of commentary. 

Or give up something that is drawing you away from Christ.  Give up worry, fear, hating or judging others, spending too much, nursing rather than dealing with anger, inability to forgive self or others, any addiction – we all have addictions – that keeps you from being your best.

Partnerships During the Holidays

It is celebration time. We have wonderful partnerships that make holidays bright. This year our church family gave everything needed for seven complete Thanksgiving dinners and an extra turkey. The DCF office that we coordinate these with sent huge “thanks!”

Donations from church members and community members will help us do over 40 Christmas gifts for children, teens and others in need.  Our Old Hollow Neighborhood group is now bringing food for our food shelf every time they meet. We received another touching thank you from the HOPE Christmas shop for the Wildberries towel sets. Our  Christmas carolers were well received at The Arbors and Pillsbury.  We also got smiles from Weston Spooner and Mary Lou Payne.  

All these activities add up to a very meaningful Christmas. Through service and worship we get to sing God’s praises in sending us Jesus, our Savior. As John Wesley loved to say, “The best of all is God is with us.

Merry Christmas, Pastor Kim

Youth Shopping for Christmas Gifts for Youth in Need

Wrapping People in the Warmth of Christ’s Love

Wrapping people in the warmth of Christ’s love.  That could be one of the themes of our holiday efforts.  New people will try us around Thanksgiving and Christmas as they seek a deeper meaning to the seasons. Make sure you welcome them after worship.

The director of the HOPE Christmas shop for families in need is new, but she had already heard about our towel ministry.  Our towels are famous because they are such a warm, practical and beautiful gift. Those who run the shop report they don’t last long.  More people wrapped in Jesus love by your giving.

Owls team planned it and lots of folks showed up Nov. 9th for pizza, fun and service as we made 150 Health kits.  Health kits are part of how our United Methodist Committee on Relief is present for those surviving natural disaster or war. 

Thanksgiving is a special time of gratitude. For the first time our church family gave absolutely every item needed from the turkeys to the pies for nine families in need.  You wrapped them in caring with your over the top generosity. That is something to be truly grateful for.          

Peace, Pastor Kim

Our Mission is All About Changing Lives

Our mission is all about changing lives!  Here is how YOU are doing this: 

  • Our Sunday school season added new families. Hug and thank a Sunday school teacher and all the kids and parents inviting their friends! 
  • New people tell me, “Wow, this is such a warm place!”.  Keep up the 5 minute rule of speaking to someone you don’t know well before or after worship and getting to know them.”  Truly friendly churches have to keep working at being welcoming.
  • Chick Wood and Diane Shortsleeve worked on Mary Lou Payne’s flower garden so she could enjoy it! 
  • Jim Warden is offering his second dog obedience class to anyone needing this. 
  • Ted Marcy and Robie Stoner surveyed the flooded home of a low income owner in Northern VT and reported to our Conference Volunteers in Mission person who will plan the volunteer rebuild of this home. 
  • We gave $1500 to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) so that they are there anywhere in our state, nation or world where there is a natural disaster or war. 
  • The OWLS team is planning a fun outreach during the Old Hollow neighborhood Yard Sale day, June 23rd.  We will be offering free water, and parking because God’s love is free! 

If someone connects to God’s grace through any of these services we offer?—well that’s priceless.

Grace and Peace, Kim

Running a Marathon

Ted and I have a niece who just finished the Boston marathon and did well in spite of the conditions.  Well, life is a marathon.  Sometimes we nail it, sometimes we don’t.  Most of the time there is another day to try again. Life is better with people in a faith community who cheer us on, hand us water and nourishment, and wrap us in cheers and blankets.

We have our ups and downs. We all carry a certain amount of baggage from the families who raised us, the culture we both observe and are captured by, our own decisions, and the decisions of others whom we care about, but do not control.

Through it all, I choose to believe in a God of unconditional love based on the evidence that my life is better when I trust this God.  And I see many, many others in this church and beyond our church for whom this is also true.  Some of the time I actually live my trust.

Always we are blessed when others are honest with their struggles and their insights.

Grace and Peace, Kim

Changing Lives

You are changing lives by being Christ’s warm transforming love:

During the past several months, Jane and I have been the recipient of an outpouring of support, prayers, phone calls, cards and emails from many of you, which has been overwhelming.  The time you took to contact us made a big difference and will not be soon forgotten.  Thankfully, I am much improved as I write this.  We are now anticipating returning to North Ferrisburgh this summer and seeing everyone again. You – our Vermont church family – are the best and you provided much comfort and gave us hope!  Feeling blessed, and with gratitude, Bruce Werner

I cannot even begin to tell you how much your cards, emails and prayers have meant to me. You have been God’s arms around me during this crazy time. When we moved to Charlotte 13 years ago, we were blessed to find you.  Much love, Jill Wilkens

“I am sorry to be so late thanking you for the Christmas gifts. I was alone Christmas with my husband Sam in the Arbors and my children away. I was feeling sorry for myself when Chick came with all the wonderful gifts!  It made my day that someone cared. Thank you for caring and making my holiday so nice.  God bless, Joan Cutting.” (Joan is one of our shut-ins who received the Craft gifts in December)

Grace and Peace, Kim

Ideas and Plans from Our Planning Day Jan 20th

On Sat, Jan 20th, twenty people of all ages gathered for an awesome planning day.  Ed Wilkens, our leader, made it fun and lively. Said one new member who had to slip out early: “I don’t want to leave, this is fun.” 

We looked at developing new ideas for 1) children, 2) youth, 3) young adults and parents and 4) Faith Deepening Studies (any class that helps our faith grow).  We also hope to expand lay leadership.  Below is a more detailed look at the ideas that came under each of these areas:

  1. For faith deepening study: We will offer “What in the World” Wednesday sermon review discussion studies.  These begin on Feb 21st thru March 28th at both 10–11:30am and 7–8:30pm.  Choose which time is best for you.
  2. For Youth: Hold monthly activities and survey the youth to find out their interests.  For example, Kathy Quesnel and Rob McKay begin a new high school class during worship Sunday, Feb 4th.
  3. For Children: Offer regular fellowship activities for children as well as Sunday school.  Crafts, hikes, cooking, grandparent/mentoring activities.
  4. Young Adults/Parents: offer mid-week gathering at the Pavilion for picnics, music, games, playground, socializing.

As we look forward, we rejoice that God is blessing us in many ways.  In 2017 our average attendance grew to 84, when many churches are shrinking. Our giving, service, and fun activities increased as well! Sunday Feb. 4th we add a Sunday school class for High School students 9th-12grade!  We are so blessed!

Grace and Peace, Kim