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Holy Week Devotional – April 7

Bible Reading: John 12: 20-36

Key verse: John 12: 2
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”

I cannot remember another Holy Week where the circumstances around us mirror the journey of Christ toward Golgotha. Jesus was about to experience such a level of suffering that he describes his soul as being troubled (John 12:27). And what was he to do? Ask His Father to save him from this hour? No, he knew that in this particular instance, God wanted him to continue down the road of suffering because there was some greater purpose to fulfill.

In so many instances of my life, when my soul was troubled, I asked God to deliver me from that situation — and I can share countless times when the mighty hand of God came to my rescue. It is clear that God is willing and able to save and deliver us from evil. But there have also been a few times where no matter how many times I asked for God’s deliverance, it did not come and I had to suffer. As painful as some of those times have been, I have now come to realize that sometimes the will of God allows us to suffer because God wants to give us something greater through the trials. Jesus says that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit. (John 12:24)

I cannot explain the reasons for this time of trial. But I do know that whether God delivers us or whether God allows us to go through suffering, God is still God. God is still good. And God is still shaping us more and more into the image of Christ. Friends, God will bring beauty from the ashes. God will never fail us! Stay strong!

Pastor Kim

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“treasures in jars of clay” (2 Cor 4:7)

Reflections from your pastor

The incessant sound of blaring ambulance sirens outside my window throughout the day is a stark reminder of the reality in which I live. While I do my best to self-quarantine and keep my spirits high, each siren reminds me of the profound pain that many people are going through…. Then there is the news of whether we should place human life or the economy first. Should we soften some of the restrictions on social distancing in an attempt to alleviate the financial stress on our economy? Yes, some people will die as a result, but for the vast majority, our economic suffering would be reduced.

All of this has led to me thinking about the connection between the “frailty” of life and the “sanctity” of life. Never before has the frailty of life felt so real and tangible. People in our neighborhoods, our apartment complexes, even within our churches and families are being affected (or shall I say “afflicted”) by COVID-19. Just last night, at Elmhurst Hospital, 12 people died from complications related to the coronavirus. This is our present reality. Life is so frail.

And yet, what also seems to be growing within me, is the sense that each life holds “sanctity”. Each person is created by God, in the image of God, and loved completely by God. Each person has sacred worth in the eyes of God. In fact, one of the lessons God is teaching me during this time is to see each person from this perspective. In the past (before COVID-19), when I heard ambulance sirens, it meant little to me unless somehow I knew that person. But now I think, that’s someone’s mother or father, someone’s grandparent or child, someone’s friend, or neighbor or teacher or doctor. Each person, each siren, so precious, so valuable, so sacred and irreplaceable. It seems to me that the frailty of life reminds us of the sanctity of life.

Apostle Paul speaks of our lives as “treasures in jars of clay” (2 Cor 4:7). I believe this is an appropriate image to describe our lives in the present context. One of the lessons God is teaching me is to value and appreciate life and each person. The gift of my wife and children, all my relatives and friends who I hold in my thoughts and prayers each day, and the precious life of each of our church members – these are all precious and holy gifts from God, to be loved and cherished each and every day. I pray that in the midst of this frail and vulnerable time, God would increase our conviction of the sanctity of every life and remind us to appreciate those God has placed in our midst.

Pastor Kim

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Letter from Pastor Kim – March 18

Dear Friends of CUMC,

It sure does feel lonely when we are not meeting! I believe I share the sentiments of many of you when I say that we are missing one another greatly. With that said, I think we are not necessarily breaking apart but learning to connect in new ways. I will do the best I can to try to communicate with you through both our website and Facebook page. I also encourage you to communicate with one another as well, especially since Facebook can be interactive with comments posted. If you get a chance, try to bring some of our other members up to speed as well, in terms of how to utilize the Internet.

A few things: First, please adhere to the regulations that have been put in place by our government and our United Methodist denomination. This leads me to an update from our Bishop. The mandate to not gather in our sanctuary has been expanded to April 5. Again, these dates can change, but at least for now, that is the latest directive. We will continue to live stream our service through YouTube (visit our church’s page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBvpSdgU3Zu8qmcfhAZ6oWg). Unfortunately, what this means is that the date for our Easter Cantata has also been postponed for now. I’ve spoken with our music director, Enrique Haneine, and we will still try to showcase this beautiful music at some later point. In addition, all our meetings and small group studies are temporarily postponed until further notice.

Second thing: I will try to write a daily devotional piece that can be read each day as a way of offering the hope of Christ during this difficult time. I am also looking into having either online prayer or Bible studies through a service called Zoom that provides videoconferencing. Stay tuned for more information. Another area I want to remain active in is reaching out to the most vulnerable in our church and community. We can do this by coming up with a group of people who would be willing to touch base with some of our older members — to call them and see if they need anything, such as medicine or groceries. If you are interested in helping, either by calling or by delivering basic needs, please let me know.

Third, our church building: I am really encouraging people not to come to the building, but rather worship from home. I know our congregation, and I think we had close to 20 that came last week. According to the President’s recommendations, we should not be meeting in groups larger than 10 for at least the following two weeks. So please, unless asked to lead parts of our service, do your best to stay home — not just for your sake but especially for those who are most vulnerable.Finally, you can reach out to me if you need anything. In the meantime, keep praying for one another and this situation!

A servant of Christ,

Pastor Kim

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Your rod and your staff, they comfort me! (Psalm 23)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Context is everything. You can be a millionaire who works in New York City, with a summer home in the Hamptons. Your plan is to work from that home with stockpiled food and supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. From this context, you can quote Apostle Paul about praying and having the peace of God. “OR” you can be in Paul’s situation, writing from prison, uncertain what the future holds, and contemplating whether he will live or die… Metaphorically, we too, may feel like we are in prison (quarantined), uncertain what the future will look like, and contemplating mortality within and around our community.

But as followers of Christ, our perspective and hope should be different from that of a society that is gripped by fear and anxiety. And what is that hope? It is that, “in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This means that regardless of how this situation plays out, God WILL WORK GOOD in and through us, even when times are bad. Financial losses, a compromised quality of life, sickness, and even death do not get the last word. God will bring hope, healing, and life out of fear, sickness, and even death. Another way of saying this is that no matter what happens, God is in control of my life and God’s plans for me are always good and redemptive! Even though I walk through the valley of shadow and death, I fear no evil. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me! (Psalm 23)

Perhaps the greatest example for me of Christ-like living was my grandmother. Despite growing up as a single mother of four children during the Korean War, she always had a peace and joy that emanated from her being. She would live with our family and I would share a bedroom with her during the summers. I found it intriguing that she turned my closet into a prayer space and would go in there for hours at a time, praying to God. Sometimes her prayers would be quiet, sometimes more urgent. I would hear laughter and at other times weeping. Even though I was young, I remember making the connection that her peace and joy were inseparable from her praying.

There are many practical steps we need to take to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Jesus says be as cunning as serpents but as wise as doves. We need to take smart steps like social distancing and proper hygiene. But as people of faith, we are also called to combat our fears with prayer and trust. We cast all our cares upon Jesus, for He cares for us. In the end, we trust that our lives are always in the palms of our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can ever imagine! Friends, may your fears be calmed and may your faith arise. Almighty God is with us and will work all things for good!

Shalom,                                  

Pastor  Kim

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Note From the Pastor

Since our family moved to Jackson Heights and I started serving as lead pastor from July of 2019, I feel extremely blessed and proud to call Community Church my home. Uprooting my family after living eight years on the mission field (Kazakhstan) is not an easy transition, yet the people in this church have been nothing but kind and supportive to our family from the moment we arrived. I truly feel the love of Christ in this tight-knit, multiracial community. This church has also strengthened my faith through their sincere desire to grow in Christ and their passionate expression of faith in worship. While it may sound unusual that I am speaking about how the congregation strengthens me and not the other way around, I share this with you as a testimony to God’s love and presence in our midst. In the ways in which this community has been a blessing to my family, my hope is that you too, will have that same experience. If you are seeking both to grow in your faith and to find a loving community, I extend hospitality on behalf of this church. May the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you!

Sincerely
Pastor Kim

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