Last year, we had no Easter. Last year in March, we shut down. Last year we reopened in July, and continued to fight to stay open by doing our best to keep COVID-19 out of our community and church. Last year and continuing into this year we all cooperated, stayed patient, and followed all necessary guidelines. At times we put extreme measures at play. Even though people closed for winter for Christmas, we made a tough decision to stay open, because we believed in all the proper measures we have been doing. We were confident enough that if everyone abides by the guidelines we set, COVID-19 will not effect our church or community.
Our efforts have been rewarded. We had zero COVID-19 cases that were due to doing worship in God’s house. We had zero infection spread due to all the measures taken to having worship available. We have had two people pass away in our church community, but they were in healthcare facilities. But we did all we can to try to give the honest information about COVID-19. We did all the things we know can protect people from COVID-19.
Because of all the efforts everyone has put in, we have stayed opened, and we will continue to do our best to stay open, just as long as the COVID-19 virus numbers stay at where we feel comfortable at. So far, we are doing good. We have social distanced in worship, we have worn masks, we have been aware of the spaces we occupy, we have utilized hand sanitizer, and we have modified worship. Even outside of worship, you all have done everything to stay healthy. You have monitored your travel and showed immense responsibility and carefulness.
This year, we will participate in Holy Week, and we will celebrate Easter. We are not completely out of the woods when in comes to COVID-19, as the threat is still out there. But what we have seen in our church, is that the attention to detail is working and will work, and we will continue to do so. We can open up a little more, as more people get vaccinated in our church. But we still need to be careful and stay sharp when it comes with COVID-19.
Easter is approaching, and it will be a time of celebration. We celebrate our the foundation of our faith which Christ is our cornerstone. We will worship and we will sing. We will have an outdoor egg hunt for our little ones. Let this Easter be a reminder of what we missed last year. Let this Easter be a reminder of how far we have come as a church. Let this Easter be a reminder that everything we have done has been working, so stay strong and stay healthy. COVID-19 is still around us, but we can fight it now, we can do things to prevent the spread of the virus, let’s continue to do that.
I can’t wait for Easter. Stay safe everyone, stay healthy, God bless you all!
Are you happy? It’s a really good question to ask because we are often not asked this question directly? We usually say, “Are you ok?” And contextually we only say “are you ok” when the asking individual needs confirmation of understanding from the person being asked. So, in a strange way, “are you ok” is not a concern for the recipient of the question but the focus on the person asking it. Also we never ask, “are you happy,” rarely comes up, because when we meet other people we always ask, “how are you?”
So, I am not asking you all, “how are you” I am asking, “are you happy?” Are you? If you are happy, then think about what makes you happy. What is it that you feel so cheerful about? And if you think you are not happy, then why? Why you don’t feel happy?
I ask this question because I question the happiness of the United States as a whole. I feel that there are a lot of individuals that live unhappy lives. Why? I know everyone has their reason to be unhappy, and to even force or coerce someone in being happy, isn’t the answer. But possibly just asking that question might be vital to someone’s wellbeing.
Yesterday, in Boulder, Colorado 10 people were shot and murdered in a grocery store. One of the victims was a police officer, shot in the head, father of 7 children. 7 children that will never see their father again. 7 children that cannot get kisses and hugs and bedtime stories from daddy again. The 10 people murdered all have their stories, all have their attachments to other people that love them, and now will miss them dearly.
What is going on in this country. Last week we had a gunman go through a bunch of Asian Spa to shoot women, most of them Asian, because he had some kind messed up sexual issues that he was rejected from these spas. And today we get another person go into a grocery store to create mass murder. And everyone is asking, what was the motive? Did both of them just have a “bad day?”
“Bad day?” What went wrong? When did the happiness go away, and somehow found the answer through murder? Are you so unhappy that your best option is to take other people’s lives, and disrupt the lives of so many people from loved ones? I feel that there is something wrong with happiness in the United States.
I have had bad days before. At times I go through depression and feel unhappy. But I never come to the point that I want to create harm on others. When I feel destructive, I am overcome with the feeling of sympathy for others. I do not like when other people feel bad because of anything I may do to seek harm. The thought of harming others is heartbreaking because we feel sympathetic.
Are we happy here in the United States? What do we do to make ourselves happy or better yet what do we do when we feel unhappy? Or how do we find peace when we feel stress and feeling the rising tension of a mental breakdown. Remember, however you may be feeling you are never alone. Communicate to others. We live in a world that has become more and more connected in the last 15 years. There is always someone that feels like you do and there is always someone that know how to help.
Maybe we need to start asking people directly, “Are you happy?” and “why?” Find someone close to you and ask this question and listen and share stories, good or bad, let us find peace with each other.
Not too sure how to lump all these categories, but here it is and a theological response to all the stuff that has been going around.
Living in the 2020-2021 is like walking on egg shells. You say something, do something that someone doesn’t like, you will be “cancelled.” What that means is that your life will be in a whole mess of trouble. People are out to find something in the past they don’t like, and they will ask to get you fired, removed from any kind of leadership or influence role. To me, this stuff is a bit frightening. Even if the actions may be justified, there are better ways in handling differences of opinion, politics, social interactions, and “way of life.” It is feeling like trying to find the enemy around us, whoever that may be. In the late 1600’s it was women during the Salem Witch trials, in the 1940’s, in Nazi Germany it was Jewish people, Homosexuals, people suspect in either category, and people who do not fit the model of being “German,” and in the 1940s and 1950s it was Communism or anyone accused of being a Communist. These are the small samples I can pick up in the top of my head, but the point is that a lot of innocent people suffered, were beaten, and killed under accusations. And in 2020-2021, it’s well… basically anyone…
Regardless of the person being the “good side” or “bad side.” We rarely get any sort of reconciliation. All you see is a short TikTok video, or Instagram post about how horrible a person is, and suddenly that individual’s life is done. I am not advocating bad behavior, but as a Christian I do advocate reconciliation. I think when someone is misbehaving, we need to respond with pressure (yes), but also understanding and listening. This world is huge and it is unreasonable to think that everything is going to agree with you and stand by your side. We have to do better at handling differences of people. Instead of thinking, “We Are the World” mentality and to assume that everyone should accept everyone, I think we need to understand why hate, social unrest, and abhorring behavior exists in people. We live ins sinful world, and we all have had days which we wish we could take back. Healing takes time, and canceling an individual show our lack of patience to seek reconciliation.
I may not agree with someone’s point of view, but at least I will find way to co-exist as much as possible. We aren’t going to be friends, but we aren’t going to be attacking one another when the opportunity happens.
Just imagine if there was Instagram and smart phones when Jesus flipped the tables at the synagogue and whipped people, screaming and yelling. He wouldn’t be able to continue his ministry to the cross, or have a last supper with the disciples, hence cancelling the sacrament of the Holy Communion. We would never understand the meaning of the blood and body of Christ that is given to us all. Jesus would be rendered voiceless and cancelled.
Lately, 2021 has seen its residues from 2020. On the rise is the attacks on Asian living in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Asians have been attached to the COVID-19 disease. Asian stores being vandalized, robbed. Asian grandmothers being beaten in the streets of Los Angeles and New York City and other major cities. I feel horrified to hear such a thing, knowing that my wife is coming home late from school every day, and wondering about her safety, thinking whether she will run into a hatemonger. But it is the reality I have to live, not for this time, but all the time. It’s not like this has been the only time myself, or my family have come face to face with racism. It happens, but to think that our silence is us being the “model minority” it’s not. Because we don’t say anything about it, or is outspoken about it, does not mean we are silent. We are like a prize fighter, taking the hit on the chin, and getting back up. We live our life with actions. To show my children the example of resilience. Our resilience is our voice. We will not be living afraid of others, but we will show people that we can be better than the hate that wants us to leave or feel downtrodden. Now every situation of racism towards Asian is different, so I will not generalize the acts of racism for a group of people. We handle our business in our own way. I can only speak for myself and my wife’s experiences. I am not living afraid, because there is nothing I fear. My father and mother were children of the Korean War. They grinded through the struggles of Post War trauma. They immigrated to the USA, only to find racist attacks. But they taught me about resilience and telling me, this is America, you can do anything you can to live well by any means necessary, you have the opportunity that no one else in the world has just because you are an American. My wife’s family survived the Korean War. Her father was a combat veteran in the Vietnam War. My wife was a child during the military coup in the 1980’s, having to walk to school several miles through Molotov cocktail bombs and tear gas. You think we are going to be shut down because someone calls us a bad name? Come on man! This is America, we are Americans, and we have thick skin, and the blood in us boils with toughness. My voice is my action, and I choose with my actions to love people, all people, as God is my help. I choose not to “cancel” anyone because I know that God’s judgement is stronger than our Instagram or Twitter post. Every situation will have it’s correct response, but remember every situation we face will be unique and the strategy needed to deal with confrontation will depend on situations.
Use your voice when it is necessary, use your actions when it is needed. Don’t go looking for trouble just to find trouble. Don’t be silent either! You cannot defeat sinful behavior with arrogance. And healing can only come through reconciliation.
On December 30th I stepped on the scale for the first time in about 8 months. I weighed a little over 224 pounds. It was a bit shocking to me. I didn’t know that I gained so much weight. Now, it’s not the heaviest I have ever weighed, which was about 235 pounds, but the weight gain was a bit disappointing. When I met Eunkyung about 7 years ago, I looked much different. Down in the basement in my fishing mancave, I have a portrait of our wedding picture up there. And man.. I looked different. I was fit, full energy, and happy. I look at myself now, and I see and feel like a different person. I have always been happy, but definitely I have a lot less energy, and definitely not very fit. I had to do something, I had to make a change.
No, I didn’t get surgery, but I decided to make my health a priority. I think a lot of the weight gain came from a lot of excuses. I really thought the reason for my weight gain was because of taking care of kids. Yeah, I blamed it on the kids, sorry Norah and Ben! But it’s not true. I just think that having kids took out all my energy and that the way I looked on December 30th is just normal and inevitable. But it’s not true… I can change. So I decided to change my lifestyle. I can’t go to the gym, because of COVID-19, but that shouldn’t stop me from working out. I bought a cheap exercise bike and looked up exercises I can do at home, that doesn’t involve yoga. Also, I knew I needed to check on the amount of food I am eating. Basically, everything I think I can eat… eat half of it and count every calorie.
Today is March 9th and I now weigh 177.4 pounds. I have lost a total of 46.6 pounds. I am trying to get to about 160-165 pounds, almost there! The last time I weighed 160-165 pounds was when I was a freshman in high school. I have always been a “husky” kid, since I was young, which is fine, nothing wrong with that. But I feel like at my age, and what I want to do physically, I want to be at that 165 weight range.
And if anyone was curious, I am not skipping out on any meals. I still eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and to be honest, I still eat at McDonalds or any other fast food joint (once in a while), but just really thinking about how much I eat. Instead of eating a double quarter pounder, with large fries, a coke, and a sausage biscuit, and I am not eating a double quarter pounder, small fries, and a diet coke. By doing little things like that I can cut out like 300-400 calories easy and still feel satisfied.
I am losing weight, not to look better, but mostly feel better. I want to not worry about my health when I get older. I want to get older and still be active and mobile. OK.. honestly, my big motivation to stay healthy is because I want to fish more. I don’t want to be that guy that picks one spot to fish. I love exploring, I love fishing and getting to fish areas that people don’t fish. Hiking through woods, brush, up and down cliffs. I want to hit multiple spots and find fish, not wait for fish. I want to keep doing that even when I get older.
Central PA has way too many amazing fishing spots, a ton of creeks to go to, but it involves a lot of hiking and exploring. There are too many public lakes to fish. My goal is to catch a 22 plus inch native brown trout, catch brook trout, which involves a lot of exploring and going to remote area of hard to access spots. I want to land a 10lb largemouth bass (if they exist up here). Those achievements will take a lot of time to get, and a little bit of luck. I am 40 years old, and I don’t know if I will reach my goal in the next 5 years, or 20 years. So… I better stay healthy for the long run, so I can achieve my goal in fishing.
Well that is what motivates me right now… so what am I waiting for… better get moving!
I found out a few days ago a professor from Hanover College passed away unexpectedly while recovering from a broken arm. His name was Dr. Robert Rosenthal, he was 82 years old. I knew him as Dr. Bob. He taught philosophy and it was an honor to be a part of his classroom. I can tell you if it were not for him, I would not be the person I am today. I have learned a tremendous amount from this man in my young life. Everything from being a good student, to proper behavior, work ethic, conservationism, and living harmonious with my God, environment, and my community. By far his classes were some of the most unique and eye-opening experiences I had in my life and I am glad to have participated.
Other than teaching excellent informative information in a nonintimidating, safe environment, he taught me a lot about work ethics. I first got to know Dr. Bob by being able to do yardwork around his cabin. Located in an incredibly remote area of southern Indiana, covered in wooded areas with a beautiful trickling creek stood a cabin. I remember the jobs being from raking leaves, to chopping wood, to cutting down trees and other things. To be honest I only knew how to rake leaves, never chopped or spit wood before, and never even touched a chainsaw before. But my inexperience on the job never worried Dr. Bob. He had enough confidence in me and my ability to learn on the job. That taught me a lesson in life as I got older. Find a person, with not necessarily experience, but a person that is willing to learn. You can teach skill; you can teach someone to do a task. It takes patience, laughter, and just a straight up good attitude. On his property I learned all about having a hard work ethic and that translated right into my studies. I was not the best student in college, but I was determined to learn at all costs to find success.
As I got to know Dr. Bob more and more, I learned that he was not just a philosophy professor, he was an artist. The man can play guitar insanely well and can sing. I did not expect this one bit. I saw him as a professor in a stuffy office, covered in literature. I imagined all he did was read and judging from the remoteness of his cabin in the woods only confirmed my stereotype that this man enjoys isolation and his separation from the world. I could never be more wrong. He plays music, he sings, he uses these forms of communication to connect with each other. A talent that I never expected, and for him, it was nothing special, just something to enjoy and liked that it made people happy and feel at peace. He never bragged about his talent, just humbly and quietly made it known.
It taught me, that I could easily judge a person based on my stereotypes and biases. People can be surprising; people can be what we initially thought was unexpected. Never judge a person on one’s own biases, but let the person be who they are, give them the space to be natural and comfortable so that a person can thrive and find happiness. Leaving a footprint on the earth doesn’t have to involve force or doesn’t have to be loud or big, its just all about being… being yourself.
I really do miss Dr. Bob. Thank you for respecting me as a human being, as a Christian, and giving me the tools to be a better person. I learned a lot about myself because of Dr. Bob. I was challenged in the classroom, but also in my development from a student to a man. Thank you for leaving an impact on my life and teaching me to reach beyond my imaginations.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).