Reflection for Pastor Theologian Consultation
By Kil Jae Park
This theological reflection was prepared for the Pastor Theologian consultation held in October 20-22, 2010, Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Office of Theology and Worship. This particular consultation invited 13 Korean American pastors representing generations and gender. The theological engagement focused on the event at the 219th General Assembly held in Minneapolis that led to the defeat of the motion to create another Korean language presbytery.
Kil Jae is a 1.5 Korean American who immigrated to the US in 1976 when he was just 11 years old. He grew up in New York City and finished college there (New York University) until he enrolled in the M.Div program at Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ across the Hudson river. He received his Ph.D. in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2003. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and is currently serving a mutli-cultural and multi-racial congregation in Teaneck, New Jersey. He enjoys teaching Christian Education at New Brunswick Theological Seminary as an adjunct faculty and working with Korean American congregations in the Greater New York/New Jersey area, offering seminars and workshops for teachers and parents on the issues of Korean American identity and Christian Education. He is married to Jee Young with two boys and his family recently adopted a dog, which the boys named him "Calvin." (The naming was not theolgically motivated.) He is an avid golfer who finds very powerful metaphors of life and faith in the sport
1 Co. 12:12-27
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
In the Land of M, there lived people who came from places far away and who shared different cultures and ways of life. Some of these people were people who lived there for generations while others were new comers who lived there only for a generation or two. Over time, the people in the Land of M started to form villages where people of similar cultural background lived together. Soon, the Land of M became filled with many villages all with their own culture and ways of life. Some villages were very large with many roads, bridges, houses and good restaurants. These villages bustled with people and cars. Other villages, on the other hand, were small with few roads, bridges, and houses. There were not that many cars in these villages, let alone good restaurants. But the people in these villages did not complain and tried their best to improve the life in their villages. One of these villages was the village where KM people lived.
The KMs were those who came to the Land of M from the Land of K not too long ago. They came to the Land of M because they wanted to provide a better life for their families, especially their children. The village they lived in was very small and crowded, not like the ones IMs or FMs or GMs lived in. But the KMs were very happy there and worked hard to build more roads, bridges, houses and, of course, good restaurants. Every morning, the KMs sent their children to school to learn the Ways of the Land of M so that they may live a successful life in the Land of M. The children of KM, like their parents, worked very hard in school just like their parents. Of course, the KMs were very proud of them. Little did they know that the Ways of the Land of M can be so different from the Way that they learned when they were young and bring about confusion and conflict in their life together. They just wanted their children to be successful and happy.
Time passed like flowing river and the KMs have grown old in the Land of M. The village they were living in also grew bigger and more people than ever made their home in the KM village. With more people living in their village, the KMs decided to build a new restaurant where more KM families can come to enjoy good food and company. But with their frail hands, they did not have the strength to build this restaurant themselves anymore. So they asked their children, who have now grown strong and able, to help them. “Certainly not!” They replied. “If you build this restaurant, you will only serve the food that caters to your taste and we will have no restaurant for ourselves.” They argued.
“But many families will enjoy our food and they will be welcomed in this place.” An old KM leader said. “Besides, you grew up eating this food!”
“We are not like you anymore. We are not KMs. We are EMs ” The children of KM pointed out. “Also, we are not kids anymore and we want to choose the food that we want to eat. And if you are not going to change the menu to include what we like, we are not going to help you with building the restaurant. We feel ignored and we don’t like it!”
“But if you don’t like what’s on the menu here, you can always go to the restaurants in other villages where they will serve the food that you like. We are a family and we need your help!” Cried out the KMs.
“But going to the restaurants in other villages is not the same. We don’t feel completely at home there. Besides, if we are a family, then why won’t you change the menu for us?”
The KMs and their children who now call themselves EM continued to argue to no avail as the sun slowly sank behind the hill where a sign post read, “Restaurant Coming Soon.”