Chusok is the Korean thanksgiving. It's a time of family, friends, and culture. The English sermon, one of a handful I've heard these many weeks, naturally surrounded the holiday: naturally focused on family, friends, and culture.
These are touchy subjects for me. While a four month absence from my family is routine like crest on my toothbrush every morning, (I haven't been with my family for more than a month stretch at a time since I turned 18.) and I've played the leaving behind friends game too often to count; this has been a difficult transition.
So as I worshipped at the first protestant church in Korea, my heart was heavy and my eyes were damp.
Still no word from my friends in the Philippines. We read from Job in worship. We sang Jesu, Jesu .
"Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbors we have from you.
Loving puts us on our knees,
serving as though we are slaves;
this is the way we should live with you.
Kneel at the feet of our friends,
silently washing their feet;
this is the way we should live with you."
I'm still processing a friend's suicide. It happened months ago now; but it still stings when I hear his name. I've never felt such a void when it comes to people in whom to confide. I don't have anyone here to really help me process and deal with things.
The sermon was about the brevity of Christ's earthly ministry. I'm reminded of
John Piper's quote, "Don't waste your life on the American dream of retirement, live dangerously for the One who died for you in his thirties." I was overwhelmed to worship in the church Henry Appenzeller died to plant. So many missionaries sacrificed so much to get us where we are now.
We shared in communion. Breaking bread together is becoming a growing part of my personal theology. Hearing the words from the United Methodist liturgy was refreshing.
"We have failed to love others with our full hearts."
We finished by singing Here I Am, Lord. I haven't made it through the chorus of that song since my senior year in high school when I got very sick in Russia. When my body had been ravaged by dysentery and I honestly didn't know if I would wake up in the morning, When I really thought I might die in Russia.
I knew I was all in.
The chorus is the cry of my heart, but when I try to sing it the words can't wrestle their way out.
If you lead Lord, I will follow. The words twist with tremendous weight and pain; but the pain explodes into the deepest sense of joy I've ever imagined.
I imagine I'll die doing this - probably not here in Korea, but somewhere - that I'll die following Jesus. With tremendous weight and pain; but the pain will explode into the deepest sense of joy I'll ever experience.
I always end up mouthing the words, my throat caught with bitter joy my vision blurred by the tears or reality.
Here I am Lord, send me.