January 29, 2017: Re-imagined Realm
From Sandra Rooney
Although most of us may feel we have it pretty good, we don’t have to look far to recognize that for many in our own communities, or nation, or the wider world, life is pretty hard and often without hope or any sense of blessing. But as people of faith, we are challenged to live with the knowledge that there is another way, to recognize our blessings and by the grace of God to be a blessing to others.
In recent years, Egypt has seen an increase in secular violence in communities where Christians and Muslims have long lived in peace. In a small village outside the city of Minya, a Coptic Christian, who believes “we are all the same,” has been teaching the children of the community for 50 years. With more than 120 children in his class, he teaches the 30–40 Christian children the Bible and the 70–80 Muslim children how to read and memorize their holy book, the Koran. The 80-year-old Ayaad calls sectarian violence “evil” and he believes that the Bible and the Koran teach the same values, and that the community can live in peace if people know and practice those values.
A world away from Minya, Egypt, a Korean restaurant owner, Hillary Park, closes her restaurant every Monday afternoon at 2:30 to prepare to serve up to 200 homeless people under the Marion Street Bridge in Salem, Oregon. Park, who grew up in South Korea, moved to New York with her husband in 1985. In 2010 they moved to Salem, where they joined the Korean Church of Salem and opened Happy BiBim Bap House, which has won “Best of the Mid-Valley” awards in 2014 and 2016.
Wanting to give back to the community, Park, with help from church members, decided to start serving dinner to the homeless community. “It is just one of the ways of sharing God’s love,” says David Jeon, pastor of the Korean Church of Salem, who says he comes by whenever he can. The restaurant donates all the food for the weekly meals. With her pastor as translator, Park says, “I do good by God’s grace, not my own strength. Just God’s grace and God’s glory.”
How might you put contemporary language to the Beatitudes?
Where in this language do you recognize your own blessings?
How might you or your faith community be a blessing to others?
Gracious God, open our eyes to the blessings that abound around us and the opportunities to be a blessing to others. Help to see the “better way” that is possible if we follow the teaching of Jesus. Amen.