We saw people dressed in their suits and carrying flashlights as they directed traffic. It was about 5:45 on a Saturday morning as our bus pulled up to Myungsung Presbyterian Church in Seoul, South Korea, the largest Presbyterian church in the world. We were there for 6 am prayer and the sanctuary, which had 3 levels, was comfortably full.
It was an amazing sight. There was an enormous and beautiful painting hanging over the chancel area that depicted harvest time. There was food collected to be donated, laid at the feet of a sculpture of Jesus. The children sat on the steps to the chancel, some filled with joy and excitement and others just trying to keep their eyes open. There was a Scripture reading and short sermon and then time of prayer. The pastor led, then everyone prayed aloud at the same time. It was beautiful. As the praying ended corporately and the pastor gave the benediction, some stayed to pray. They gathered around each other and continued, some for just a few minutes and others for hours.
This church visit as well as others I was able to attend at a recent conference were a gift. Throughout the time I gave thanks for God’s work throughout the globe and for God’s particular work through you all. I am grateful to God for the ways the Spirit is at work in and through First Presbyterian. I am thankful for the ways you care for one another and for your desire to care for our community. I give thanks for the vision that you all have and the opportunities to continue to share Christ’s love through Hot Dish & Hope, the abundant Pastoral Care ministries, and the potential Shetler Building project.
As the harvest painting was described at the beginning of the prayer time, we learned that it took 12 years to create. That morning I sat in awe at the detail and at the vision that the artists were given. I sat in wonder at their dedication for twelve years. And, I cannot help but think to the visions that God calls us to act upon. I cannot help but think to the soil that we are called to tend as God prepares to plant seeds. Sometimes these seeds will bear fruit quickly and others might take twelve years or even longer. Yet, the Spirit is in our midst and God is at work throughout the world.
As I give thanks, I also pray that our church might continue to grow and deepen in Christ’s love. I pray that we might have the wisdom and courage to tend the soil and prepare it for the seeds that God is planting, seeds that might bear fruit into the decades to come. I pray that we might deepen in prayer, worship, gratitude, and giving so that Christ’s light might shine through us.