Eugene Cho

christmas in community

I had intended to write my family’s official Christmas and 2007 Year in Review letter today.  But, as it turned out, there was no time.  It was an emotionally draining but yet, hopeful day on this Christmas Eve.  I will eventually get to the letter at another time.

Early this morning, I received word that the young couple in our church who we’ve been praying for some time had lost their baby.  Their son was born prematurely in the 24th week and three minutes later, the baby past away.  With heavy hearts, Minhee and I spent this afternoon with this couple to mourn and grieve with them and to offer a word of hope. 

The Hope I speak of is not one that I share lightly or flippantly in response tragedy, pain and suffering.  This Hope is the one testified in the gospel of the Scriptures and embodied in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This Hope is given to us – again and anew – in this Christmas season – in the Birth of Jesus Christ.  It is a Hope that passeth human understanding…Hope that cannot be separated even by death.

Our church, Quest, hosted our first ever Christmas Eve service tonight.  Honestly, I didn’t initially have the energy or motivation to go and was skeptical since we weren’t expecting too many folks to show.  But when 7pm rolled around, I was stunned to see nearly 200 people walk through the doors.  I had no responsibilities tonight but to simply welcome people and extend Christmas greetings.

As the hour gathering progressed, I was immensely thankful for the profound joy of expressing hope in COMMUNITY.  Hope for healing.  Hope for mercy and compassion  Hope for justice.  Hope for the end of human suffering.  Hope for peace.  Hope for the end of global poverty.  Hope for reconciled relationships. 

Hope for the return of Jesus.

After the service, I was surprised to run into JL and his mother.  I wrote a brief blog entry about them and the tragic loss of JL’s father.  They had trekked down all the way from Bellingham…with the hopesof worshipping and celebrating the birth of Jesus…in COMMUNITY. 

I shed more tears today on Christmas Eve than I had ever imagined and ever hope to.  But today, probably more than any other Christmas season before, His presence was evident.   It was “good” because it was shared in community.

Build up, enjoy, nurture, serve, and love your communities – whoever and wherever they may be.  Merry Christmas.

Filed under: family, religion, , ,

13 Responses

  1. bedeboop says:

    Merry Christmas.

  2. chenster22 says:

    wow, did not know. will be praying.

  3. Andy Larsen says:

    May that hope and the peace of Christ continue to sustain you. You have been a tremendous blessing to us this year. Looking for to a new chapter this coming year.

  4. Tess says:

    Thank you for sharing with such poignancy. Merry Christmas to you and your family as we celebrate the HOPE of Christ.

  5. Wayne Park says:

    we’re so sorry to hear about the loss of the child. It’s heart-rending…
    I’m glad JL got to make it w/mom to church on Sun… glad they got to be with the community that helps them back on their feet….
    It is indeed poignanat that Christmas was spent more in tears than in celebration but… somehow makes more sense.. .gotta go – little a’s crying…

  6. dashed says:

    while i’m sad to hear about the losses of ppl in your community, i have to fight not to call you a liar when you talk about this hope. i don’t see how you can believe such a thing. i don’t see hope as something separate from death – death is the only hope there really is.

  7. BK says:


    How do some of these folks get on your blog?

  8. Dan Hauge says:

    Really appreciate this post, Eugene. Not much more I can say about that. In the case of dashed, I actually appreciate how you’ve expressed yourself, it sounds very honest and not mean-spirited (unlike one or two other posts on this blog have been). Sometimes I feel exactly the same way. And I’m tempted to try and answer with something from my own faith journey, but right now I’ll refrain and just let it sit.

  9. Dan Hauge says:

    Oh, and when I said one or two other ‘posts’ have been mean-spirited, I meant to say ‘comments’, and not ‘posts’. I don’t think Eugene has ever been mean-spirited–Gotta get my blog lingo right.

  10. Danielle Ritchey says:

    Thank you so much for your post! I really appreciate it! I too am learning that the only hope we really have is in Christ Jesus!

  11. dashed says:

    dan, thank you for hearing me the way you did. upon re-reading my previous post, i can totally understand how it would come across horribly. i wrote it out of a place of bare honesty and despair – perhaps not the right thing to communicate here. i’m sorry to anyone that i might have offended.

  12. e cho says:

    dashed: no need to apologize.

    i’m just sure if calling me a liar was the clearest summation of your feelings. maybe, you meant delusional?

    i do believe in such hope. i am not lying about that so you must think i’m delusional and that’s ok.

    regardless, i wish you a happy new year.

  13. dashed says:

    eugene – you called it right. i don’t think you are a liar, i don’t think that is your heart. i think i had a visceral kind of reaction to something that i see as brutally false, and like i said, i had to “fight to not call you a liar”. that was too personal and i didn’t intent to attack you… i guess i do see you as delusional, in a sense, and i’m probably making all sorts of assumptions about how much you must not have experienced in order to believe such a thing. it is beyond hard for me to understand.

    thank you for your good wishes in spite of my words, and i return them as well

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One Day’s Wages

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The Western Wall in Old City of Jerusalem (aka The Wailing Wall) - from the Second Jewish Temple.

I'm hoping to share a few stories of people that I met (Jewish, Muslims, and Christians) in the Holy Land in the days to come. One of our Palestinian tour guides said to me, "You will leave with more questions...and that's a good thing." He was absolutely right. We want everything so nicely packaged but if we're honest, it's very rare in a broken, complex world...and I can't think of too many things more complex than the situation in Israel and Palestine.

While I certainly understand and resonate with Israel and its history and its need to protect itself from harm, one can't deny the history and existence of Palestine as well. 
Is peace possible? This was the focus of my trip to the Holy learn more about the conflict and those that are working towards peace. My friend, Scott (and other pastor), Mae (our guide) and I had the privilege of going to a Jewish synagogue this past Friday. We were then hosted by a local rabbi and his family for a Shabbat meal. It was marvelous. Incredible. Illuminating. Delicious. A true honor to be invited to his home with his wife and three children. To pray, learn, share, and ask questions. 
What I loved the most was the story of how Rabbi Daniel and his wife rented a bus to take 15 of their friends to the West Bank ... to see for themselves the impact of the wall and the Israeli policies. Some of their friends had never even entered the West Bank...don't personally know a Palestinian. It's impossible to work towards peace when we don't know anyone from the other side...when we don't understand the other side.

Thank you, Rabbi Daniel. Old Jerusalem. So many stories. So much history. The synagogue in Capernaum (Galilee) where Jesus began his public ministry. He taught with authority... Pray for your pastors and teachers...that they may teach with courage, conviction, humility, and ultimately, directing people to Christ - the Word made flesh.

Speaking of, so excited to be teaching at @Quest Church tomorrow. If you're in the Seattle area, join us. A glimpse of Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." What amazes me most about this event is about...timing and patience. For Christ, it wasn't about "if" but about "when." In a world of supersonic pace,  impatience, quick results, hurry and now and NOW...Jesus waited for the Father's timing. He was patient and faithful. I need to learn that waiting on the Lord in itself isn't apathy but rather an act of faith. The town of Bethlehem and at the site of the cave (aka manger) of the birth of Christ.

One of the highlights was a class of Palestinian Muslims and Christian kids in a local public school singing a Christmas carol for us in Bethlehem...just across the Shepherd's Field. Galilee. Surreal to be at the mountainside where Jesus delivered "The Sermon on the Mount" ... aka The Beatitudes. Walking around praying for Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Nigeria, Mali, Palestine/Israel... This verse is so particularly important in light of all the violence in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9

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