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. chenster22 says:

    wow, did not know. will be praying.

  2. 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.

  3. Tess says:

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

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

  6. BK says:

    Eugene,

    How do some of these folks get on your blog?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on. I have to remind myself of this every day...because I can forget every day:

Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. It's a sad reality but our society runs on the currency of fear. Don't feed into this frenzy.

Rather, invest in faith, hope, and love.

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