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Monday, June 22, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you judge the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
    God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
    let all the ends of the earth revere him. (NRSV)

Reflection
There is a story that I grew up hearing about why Christianity spread so successfully in Korea. It is a simple story, and it goes like this: During the years when Korea suffered under Japanese occupation, American Christian missionaries were very kind to the people of Korea. In some cases, the missionaries even suffered with the people. Witnessing this, the people of Korea were able to open their hearts to the gospel they embodied.

Surely this story omits many of the complexities and realities of missionary work in Korea and does not do justice to a fuller understanding of why Christianity was able to take root in and grow so quickly in Korea. It is a simple story that takes a shortcut to make the point that when people witness something as being genuinely good, they will open their hearts to it. It is much like the point that the psalmist makes when he says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.” The psalmist knows, as do missionaries, that the gospel has to be embodied and made visible, if others are going to witness it, learn something about God through it, and praise God for it.

It’s a simple truth that still makes sense today, and it makes me wonder if perhaps the church has not altogether been well served by becoming mainstream. Perhaps, for the sake of the gospel, we need to regain the self-consciousness that we are being perceived by others. Perhaps then we might take more seriously what others are witnessing when they see us.

Prayer
Write your gospel upon our hearts, O God. Then, make it visible in all we do and say so that our lives may reflect your goodness. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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