InHo Kim – My Faithful Journey

Life Stills of a Korean-American Man/Husband/Father/Pastor

Leave a comment

Unexpected Hope

pennySo as I was about to take a few “golf” pencils from the back of the pew to poke my eyes and ears out as I sat through an excruciatingly laborious congregational meeting, I was stunned back to reality by two things. First, as I was about to put my head in my hands and stare down to the floor to find a sign that this will get better, I found a shiny penny on the red, just shampooed carpet below me. And secondly in that same exact moment, the elder who was about to take us through the budget for next year mentioned a name, Louise Mueller. Though I knew what the penny was and what it represents, luck or hope or even a sign of uselessness in today’s economy, I had no idea who Louise Mueller was. It was explained to us that Louise was a former member of this church. Because this church touched her so much over the years and because she continues to have such hope for this faith community, she gave a large portion of her estate in her death to our church. Hope comes from such unexpected places. As our economy struggles, so does our churches and the church that I serve is no exception. I believe it hits smaller churches the hardest. But just when things look bleak and the glimmer of hope begins to distinguish, hope arrives unexpectedly.

As I began to ponder the incredible gift of hope that Louise gave to the church in its time of need during Advent, my mind wondered to my experience of Advent just two years ago. In just a few months after a painful separation from a faith community I dearly loved and cared for, in my dark place of despair, my wife and I discovered that we had conceived our much wanted second child. It occurred during the beginning of Advent and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We were desperately needing and looking for any sign of hope, and joy came down to us in a form of a our beautifully growing child. As I reflect back, at the time without knowing it , this child became for us “the” sign of hope in our lives. But it was soon short lived when in early January, during an ultrasound, we found that our baby’s heart was no longer beating. Not only were we devastated because of the loss of our child, but also because of the loss of hope in our lives. It threw me into such a state of despair that the only way to express it was through a handwritten poem:

I Am Sorry

I am sorry for the way

I didn’t think about you during the day

I am sorry for the way

I didn’t talk to you each night

I am sorry for the way

I forgot about you in my life

I am sorry for the way

You are not here with me today

I am sorry for the lack of tears

And for my stoic face

All I feel is numb and cold

And a smile is a mile away

I am sorry that I did not think

About you, when you were alive

And I am sorry I try to forget

About you, now that you are gone

I am sorry for the way

I put my hopes and dreams on you

I knew it was unrealistic

But it’s what I needed to do

And I am sorry that my anger

Is over a damn bed that will not come

Instead of that my unborn child

Will cease to grow and be born

But I do think about you

Each and every night

Just how much I would have loved you

And kissed you good night

How beautiful you would have been

And a mother and brother who would have love you so

And now all I can say

Is sorry that you had to go

So we lay your beautifully forming body

In front of our loving God

May God hold you close and dear

Forever and today

I love you, Your Daddy

But in this darkness, hope came unexpectedly from so many places. There were many Louise Muellers in our life. When I had lost hope, there were others who hoped for me, carried me and even instilled hope in me once again. So in this Advent season as we celebrate the time of hope, I continue to think about how I can be an agent of hope to those who need it the most. And I think this is what the Advent Conspiracy is partly about:

Leave a comment

I want to be a Dinosaur!

Tuesday night will probably be one of those moments in life when people will ask where were you and what were you doing when Barack Obama became the President of the United States of America. I have to say that my answer is not very glamorous. I was actually in the bathroom helping my toddler try to fend off his bout with constipation, when I overheard that Obama passed the 270 mark on TV. I am sure that my son is glad to be part of history in this way. But the following morning as we were all beginning to wake up and gathered on our bed, as is our usual morning routine, we asked our son a question. My wife Theresa asked, “Today you can be anything that you want to be. What would you like to be?” He thought for a few seconds, looked up at us and said with a loud clear voice, “I want to be a dinosaur.”

After all the laughter, and the chuckles that I had throughout the day when I thought about my three year old slowly becoming a dinosaur, I began to think about the hopes and dreams that we all have for our lives. I shouldn’t have been surprised by his answer since he has been infatuated with Dinosaurs for almost two years now. But in his answer, he did not say, he wanted to be a paleontologist to study them, or go back in time to be with them, he actually wanted to be one himself. At this one moment in time, that is his hope and in his striving, he sees no barriers in achieving it.

At what age do these hopes become dashed for us. When do these dreams begin to fade. It may come from inside of us filled with doubts and comes also from external sources such as our parents and family. But as an Asian American, I know our society as a whole has a lot to do with it. As I see the world around us in my daily living, I see hopes shattered all across this country and all across the world. As I see injustices in many places and in California with prop 8’s passing, I feel and see anger and hopes drowning in tears.

As I ponder the gospel message in this week’s lectionary, Matthew 25:1-13, I read of the 10 bridesmaids, all dressed and ready in excitement to meet the bridegroom. They are waiting in anticipation, but their hopes are dashed in the prolonged wait and they all fall asleep. As I see hopes dashed again and again, I also fall asleep at times for extended periods. But in life, things happen that wakes me up, stirs me and points me in the way of hope again.

As I watched with tears in my eyes the new First Family walk out onto that stage at Grant Park in Chicago and heard Barack Obama’s speech to America and to the world, the single word that enveloped me was “hope”. Hope that we can reach for dreams again. Hope that a better America is possible, an America that is just, honest, not only thinks inwardly about its own well being, but works with others to make the world a better place. And an America that breaks down all barriers and injustices between people. In no way do I think Obama is the “One”, the “Savior”, the “great hope” who will bring all of this about, but for me, he is a symbol that points me again in the path of hope and that we can all work together to make change happen for a better world.

As for my son’s hopes of being a Dinosaur, who knows, sometime in the near future with enough genetic engineering and technology, maybe he really can be a dinosaur. But for now, I will continue to provide the environment and work to make the world a place where he and my daughter can dream dreams, see visions and actually make them happen.