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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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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