Sermon Script for September 27th
1 May God’s love and peace be with you. Do you know where is the kingdom of God? Does anyone know where is the kingdom of God? Do you think we are getting closer to the kingdom of God? Where is the promised land? Does anyone know? There was a song that children used to sing when I was a small boy. It was this: 우리의 소원은 통일, 꿈에도 소원은 통일, 정성을 다해서 통일, 통일을 이루자. It means: we dream of the reunification of two Koreas. I think of the reconciliation among us even in my dreams. Let’s work together, let’s work for peace. When I was young, I used to hear this song in public advertisements on TV and radio. And I learned and sang this song at school. But, this song is no longer sung. Even this song is no longer sung by children. I don’t think children learn this song at school today. I have never heard of this song at least for the last ten years. One of the reasons is people don’t think it is possible. People don’t think the reunitifcation is possible. To be honest, people don’t think it is economically beneficial. About ten years ago, the reason that children sang this song was not because the reunification would bring on economic benefits. It was just because we are one family. Now people don’t say that we have to be reunited. People don’t say that we are one family.
Where is the kingdom of God? Are we getting closer to the kingdom of God? Mr. Barak Obama became the president of this country in 2009, the first African-American president of this country. Many people thought that the United States of America was opening a new era. But today, we are surprised hearing the experience of African-Americans. Two weeks ago, we have lost an admired judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburgh. I heard many people are in sorrow because of her passing. And we know that her vacancy has become another reason of conflict and political clash. Where is the kingdom of God? Is reconciliation possible among people? To make the world better, one of the things that we do is to develop technology. I do believe that technicians are admirable people. They are co-creating the world with our God. They are creators. Thanks to technology, now we see more. We see further. Now we go faster. We go farther. So, we can save a lot of time because of technology. I heard a scholar saying how many relatives we meet a week is directly related with the degree of hapiness. It means the more relatives you see, the more likely you say, “I am happy.” Then you know what? Before agriculture revolution started, people only had to work less than 4 hours a day. They spent the rest of the time with their family. We set an alarm to wake up in the morning, which no animal in the world other than human beings does. That makes us think about the meaning of progress.
Where is the kingdom of God? Is it just cliché that we use in church? Are we getting closer to the kingdom of God? From time to time we feel disappointed with the world and politics. Sometimes, we are disappointed with humanity in general. So, sometimes, we don’t want to watch the news programs anymore. We become pessimistic about what my voting right can do. When we were a child, we used to have a bigger dream. We sang the reunification of two Koreas. We learned about the Civil Rights Movement. We imagined exploring the universe. But, as time goes on, we sing not very often. Are we going forward? What do you think?
2 We have read the book of Exodus in September. Today is the last Sunday that we read Exodus. In God’s grace, they eventually finished the 40 years of the journey. In God’s grace, after the 40 years of the living in the wilderness, they arrived at their destination. They must be so happy. It was such a historical moment. They celebrated the moment with the entire assembly for days and weeks. But, I would like to ask you a question. Do you think the land where they eventually arrived was a good land? They did arrive at a land. But was it good land? I would say that almost all of the historical adversities that they had was related with the geopolitical situation of their place. Let’s think about this. There was Egypt below their land. There was Assyria above their land. There was Babylon on their right. And there is the sea on their left. Few centuries later, Persia will appear in history. And few centuries later, the Greek and Roman empire will apear in history and conquer them. So they were not able to decide their future by themselves. They were always at the mercy of other strong nations. So, they had to choose which side they have to stand between Egypt and Assyria, Assyria and Babylon, Babylon and Persia. Water was very scarce in their land. Especially during summer, it was extremely dry. So, they had to make cisterns. To make cisterns, they had to carve solid rocks. They didn’t dig the ground. They carved solid rocks. I cannot even imagine how many years it had taken to make a water tank by carving rocks. After they made a huge hole in a rock, they covered the surface with plaster. Otherwise, water will seep out. Neverthless, they often had cracks on the bottom. Then the precious water disappeared out of the tank. When they arrived in this land, they saw how harsh it was. So, they had to ask, why is this land the promised land? What makes this land the promised land?
3 Jesus must have the same question, “where is the kingdom of God?” Let’s think about the reality where Jesus lived. Jesus actually lived in a kingdom of God in a different meaning. Here is the reason. When Julius Ceasar died, he was deified by his people. So, if you lived in the first century Rome, and if you asked people, “who is God?” Then people will answer, “Julius Ceasar is God”. After Julius Ceasar died, his adopted son, Augustus naturally became the son of God. So, if you lived in the first century Rome and asked people, “who is the son of God” then people will answer, Augustus is the son of God. So, Jesus lived in a kingdom of God. Amid this world, Jesus must ask, “where is the kingdom of God?” I believe in the middle of the journey, Jesus had found the answer. And his answer was revolutionary. To those who asked, “when would the kingdom of God come?”, Jesus answered, “The kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is amone you.” I take it in this way. The kingdom of God is not something that we can find in somewhere in the world. This is not something that somebody else can make for you. But this is something that we can live out in love. The kingdom of God is something that we can live out in unity. Where is it? It is right here and right now. Do you know what happened before Jesus gave this teaching? Jesus took care of people with leprosy.
A couple of weeks ago, on my Facebook, I saw a group of Korean pastors were making a prayer group. And they were saying that they are praying for the reunification of two Koreas. Do you know what was my first reaction? I snorted. I sniffed. Why? Because I thought it is not possible. But I read a sentence there. And the sentence made me repent. It said the unity is something that we can live out right here. By taking care of North Korean detectors, living out reconciliation every day, and dreaming of an impossible dream, we can make it happen right here. For those who want to live out love, for those who want to live out peace, the kingdom of God is already a reality.
4 When the people of God arrived at the new land, they were given a new task. It was to live out the kingdom of God. It was to live out the promised future. It was to change the harsh land into a promised land by God’s help. In ancient times, there were famous kingdoms.They had strong armies. They had very strong walls. So, they were able to protect their people. Outsiders wanted to belong to their kingdoms. Outsiders wanted to live inside of their walls. Then, the king showed up before them and said, “Do you want my protection? Then let us made a covenant between you and me. Do you want my protection? Then half your wealth is mine. Do you want my protection? Then your children are mine. Do you want my wall? Then your children will be my slaves. Do you want my army? Then half of your livestock will be mine.” It was the contract that the weak had to make with the strong. Then what did the Lord require of the people? Today’s scripture is the contract that God and God’s people made. God said, “Do you want to live in the kingdom of God? Then, you shall not worship money. You shall not worship prosperity or power. But you have to worship the giver of life. Then your life will be abundant. Do you want to live in the kingdom of God? Then you shall work hard. But you shall take a rest at least once a week, so that you may not loose your humanity. Do you want to live in the promised land? Then you shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You want to live in my kingdom? Then you have to take care of the week and the poor as I took care of you when you were week and poor. My siblings in Christ, this was the true meaning of living in the promised land. The possibility of living out the kingdom of God is still open to us today.
5 About ten years ago, I was studying Christian Ethics at a graduate school in Korea. During the week days, I studied at school. And during the weekend, I worked at a small convenience store. The store was open 24/7, and I worked from 11 PM to 6 AM. Working at the convenience store, I was able to learn so many things. I learned that how many people are working while I was sleeping. But, in the mean time, I was very sad and struggling. Because what I am learning was what kind of roles Christians are supposed to do in the contemporary society. But the space that was allowed to me was only 40 square feet. What I was supposed to do was to give changes to the customers and hand over cigaretts. Don’t you feel the disparity between what you can do in your daily lives and the kingdom of God? But I would like to encourage you to remember this. That this the reason why we are here as a community. That is the reason why we are here as a church. As a faith community, we practice love. As a faith community, we sing love together. As a faith community, we support ministries. Where is the kingdom of God today? The kindom of God is among us as we speak love. The kingdom of God is among us as we speak peace. The kingdom of God is among us as we speak justice. And let us witness to the kingdom of God. And let us expand the kingdom of God from right here.
I would like to conclude today’ sermon with an English word. It is idiot. The origin of idiot is a greek word, idiotes. Idiotes meant those who are only interested in their private matters. Today, our God encourages us and empowers us to live out peace and justice. Do not be discouraged by the world. Be inspired by the love of Jesus. If we walk with God step by step, then in the power of the holy spirit, we will be able to expand the kingdom of God from North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church to the entire world. Amen.
1 May God’s love and peace be with you. I would like to begin with a question. What was the very first thing that you thought of as you got up this morning? What came up first in your mind as you got up this morning? You could have thought of what you thought last night. You could have thought of your children. You could have thought of your church as it is Sunday. If you ask me the same question, almost every morning, I used to get up thinking of sermon. Right after my alarm goes off, the first thing that comes up in my mind is sermon. Yes, I do have a bit of pressure in my mind. And I tend to be driven by the pressure. I think I want to do well. So, once one service is over, I start thinking about the next service. Actually, I already know the scripture for the next Sunday. When I have spare time, I browse the internet and the book to find inspiring stories to be used for the next service. I am off on Monday. So, I do laundry. I clean the house. I sort out things. Even though I receive emails, I try to push them away. Please excuse me. But, pushing away the pressure about sermon is always hard. So, I find myself sitting on my desk to work on the sermon on Monday night. I know it is not healthy. And I always feel that I don’t have enough time. And I always feel busy. But I know this. I have never run out of time. The truth is, my mind is busy. As my mind is busy, I feel I am running out of time.How about you? What are you driven by? What were you driven by last week?
A couple of days ago, I read an interesting article.It was written by a dentist who has a clinic in New York City. After the lockdown was lifted, he finally started working at his clinic again. But he found something unusual. He found something very unusual. He says he has been seeing so many patients coming in because of tooth fracture. He says he has seen more tooth fractures in the last six weeks than the last six years. He asked other colleagues if they have the same experience, and they said yes. One of the reasons that people have tooth fracture is this. As many people are working at home now, they tend to have poorer posture than they work in their office. That can cause tooth fracture during the night. So, let’s take a moment and correct our posture. And the other major reason is, according to his assumption, the anxiety that people have / caused this problem. He says many people are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, and it leads to health problems.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an important event in the stock market. I don’t buy stocks, but I just follow them up because I can learn many things from them. There are major IT companies, such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and the like. A couple of weeks ago, their stock prices had fallen. For example, now, Apple is bigger than most countries in the world in terms of finance. And the stock price of Apple dropped 8%. It is a lot of money. I heard a professional talking about the reason why the stock dropped. He said people were afraid of being afraid. People were anxious about being anxious. So, the price dropped. Apart from the virus, apart from the current situation, it is so easy for us to be driven by negative feelings. It is so easy to be driven by pressures. So, let me ask you the same question, but with different words. How are your teeth? How is your soul?
2 We are reading the book of Exodus. As you may remember, the people of God are in the middle of the wilderness. They escaped Egypt, and they are walking toward the promised land. They have already crossed the sea. They have overcome many challenges. But today, again, we see them facing another problem.Now they were tired. They were thirsty. They were hungry. But they were not the actual problems. They started to be driven by anxiety. Worries in their hearts started dominating them. So, they thought to themselves. They talked to each other, what is going to happen tomorrow? What is going to happen next week? What is going to happen next month? Can we possibly reach the promised land? Can our children live in the promised land?
The Bible tells us that God guided them with a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud. So, when the pilar moved, they had to move; when the pilar stopped, they had to stop. It means they only knew how far they were going to move just for today. They only knew the destination just for today. Among the congregation, there must be young people. They were very confident about their health. And they could have been very frustrated about the situation. They could have said, “I am confident about my health. And I am concerned about the future of my people. If God allows me, I can go further. I can go faster. But why does this damn pilar stop right here?”
As the future became unclear, something came up in their minds. It was yearning. They started yearning for the past. Yes, they suffered a lot in the land of Egypt. They were forced to work. They had to work without ceasing. They were sick and tired of the oppression. But, amid the challenges of today, the memory of suffering and pain in the past turned into a good memory. Which is something that we experience from time to time. So they said: “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt … There, we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
We tend to think of them as bad people. We tend to think of them as an unfaithful congregation. But if I were there, I think I could have been one of them. What they show us is this. How fragile when we cannot control the future. How fragile we are when we are driven by anxiety. So, I cannot dare to say that they were unfaithful. We cannot exist in the past. We cannot exist in the future. We only exist in the present time. We are only allowed to be in the present time. But, the problem is the present is very short. If I say now, then the moment when I said now has already become the past. So, the present barely exists. It means we barely exist in terms of time. We cannot change the past. We cannot know the future. So, American Jewish teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel said: we are controlling many things in the world. But time is out of our control.
3 In March, I got a call from our DS, saying I will be serving North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church. I was very excited. I was excited about serving this church and living in Vermont. Even before I moved here, I searched many places to go in Vermont. I tried to know this church more. I think I went on to the church website five times a day. And I exchanged emails with Kim. I assume some of you might want to know about me before I came here as well. You could have searched my Facebook. And still, you might be wondering about what kind of amazing vision I have for this church. It is absolutely important to have a vision. We will figure out what we can do for the next generation of this church. We want to strengthen and expand our ministry for our neighbors. But one of the most faithful attitudes that we can possibly have is to be sincere in every moment. It is to be sincere in every given moment.When the people of God were yearning the past,God brought their attention to the present. And God said to them: Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. But there is a condition. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day.”
There is something that we want to focus. It is not the fact that the food rained from the sky. But the fact that the people of God had to pick up as much as they needed just for that day. The people yearning for the past became happy now that they have food. If I were there, I would be more than happy because I can eat meat in the middle of the wilderness. But there were people who picked up the food for tomorrow, for the day after tomorrow, and for the next week, and the next month. And they found that the food became unedible the next day. Through it all, they learned what it means to be faithful. They learned that they could not change anything with concern, but they learned to focus on the present, and they learned to focus on what they can change today. Do you know that? They have never found a way. They have never had to find a new path. They were not pioneers. But, they learned that being sincere in every given moment was the only way to receive the promised future.
We know a similar scripture in the New Testament. Jesus said: “I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? … “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Do you know to whom Jesus preached? Jesus preached to the people who were peasants and tenant farmers. Jesus preached to day laborers. They were in extreme poverty. They had to work today to feed their family tomorrow. Jesus does not say that “do not have a plan.” But Jesus says that we have to be sincere in every given day and every given moment. This teaching was not just a teaching, but it was also a consolation. And it was not just consolation but was also a proclamation. Jesus proclaimed to the people’s hearts that do not worry. Do not let your worries dominate your heart. So, I am no longer thinking of sermon first in the morning by God’s grace. Now I think of my dog first in the morning. He makes me busy. I have to take him out every two hours to pee. But, I am trying to take a better rest than before.
When can we rest? When we finish our tasks? When we have a lot of money? When your children are all grown up? When we are finally retired. No, only when we believe that God is in action in our lives we can have true rest. My siblings in Christ, God is in action in your life. My siblings in Christ, God is in action in your children’s life. Let us rest in him. Let us walk with him. And let us be mannah for our neighbors. Then we will be arriving at the destination of our journey in God’s grace. Amen.
Dear NFUMC family
Important Outdoor Worship Service Beginning Next Sunday
We have an outdoor worship services on August 16th and 23rd at 10AM in the church backyard! Also, we want to have a special time for our kids before the service begins. A separate service for our kids starts at 9:30AM under the pavilion. Don’t forget to bring your outdoor chair and sunshade. In case that there is a possibility of rain, we will reach out to you all by Saturday morning, and the service will be broadcasted by YouTube instead of having outdoor gathering.
SPECIAL PRAYER FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS
Please pray for those who leave their home as they are going to college. We pray that God may bless your next step and keep them in safe!
Click here for the Worship Service
In this worship, we are celebrating the Lord’s Table. Before worship service begins, please prepare the cup and bread. During the last week, our teens have done an amazing job. All of the tables in the pavilion have been stained, and they look very good. I hope you will have a chance to come and see it. I would like to express my appreciation to all who prayed for the UMARMY and gave their time.
In worship, we are going to talk about a privilege that all of us have received from our creator. What do you think is the most beautiful privilege that we have received? I pray that this worship can be a moment that God shines our soul in grace.
Dear NFUMC family
Today’ s scripture comes from Exodus 3:1-12. For scripture reading, please bring your Bible beside you before worship service begins.
Pastor Sunjae wants to meet you in person! (In outdoor with wearing and social distance) If you want to have pastoral visitation please contact Sunjae using this email: email@example.com
Be a blessing. Be a gospel. Have a blessed week.
Dear NFUMC family,
I pray no matter where you are, you may be able to feel the presence of God. Before you begin our worship service, bring your Bible and keep it near you, so that you can read the scripture with the reader in the middle of service.
Today’s scripture comes from 1 Thessalonians 5 and Psalm 12. In the letter, Paul encourages us to be thankful in all circumstances. It maybe one of the familiar scriptures for many of our church members. However, I would like to ask him a question back. How can we possibly be thankful in all circumstance? Amid this time of disease and loss, what does it mean to be thankful? In today’s worship, let’s bring this question to God trying to be honest about what we feel today.
I am hoping to have more opportunities to visit you in person. If you want to have a pastoral visitation, please contact by my email or church email. I will be standing outside of your house wearing mask, and you can stay in your house.
Rev. Sunjae: firstname.lastname@example.org
Church email: email@example.com
If you are new to worshiping with our community, we would love to hear from you. If you have any prayer concerns that you want to share with us, please contact us by using this email address. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s scripture comes from the book of Genesis 33:1-10. Since Jacob left his father’s house, he must always be afraid if he would meet his brother Esau again. When he was in the middle of the journey in search of new land, so when all of his family members were so much tired on the road, he heard that his brother Esau is approaching him. He felt he was up against a problem that he cannot possibly deal with by himself. Have you ever felt that your future is out of your control? Jesus was born in Galilee, and in biblical time, Galileans barely had such power to decide their own future. They were always at the mercy of other strong nations. Then what did Jesus do in this historical situation? What does the Lord require of us when we are helpless?
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
– Reinhold Niebuhr –
JOYS AND PRAYERS
- Many of our church members shared a joy about new pastor Sunjae. Please pray for this time of transition, that we may continue to be built into one community in grace!
- Betsy Brown shares a joy with us. Her cousin has been fighting with cancer, and she got good news this week. The result of the scans shows that there is no evidence of cancer now. Thank you for your prayers for Betsy’s family.
- Please pray for UMARMY (July 28 – July 31). 5 teachers and 8 teens are participating this year. This year’s UMARMY will be a lot different, but pray for us that we may be able to have a new experience in God’s grace.
OUTDOOR FELLOWSHIP MEETING
We continue on the outdoor fellowship meeting. You can sign up using this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904044BADAB23A6F58-nfmumc Please bring your own outdoor chairs and wear mask. You can bring your own cookies and coffee!
We have three time slots