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By Diana Kim

Photo by Marco Versch Professional Photographer

“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” -Karl Barth

Wednesday January 6, 2021 will go down in history as a dark day for democracy. The world was in shock — though unsurprised — to see thousands of Trump supporters storm the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Described as a coup, domestic terrorism, insurrection, and sedition, the riot at the Capitol displayed the moral failings of our nation, as white men clearly marked in gear that depicts white nationalism and neo-Nazism claimed this to be the “beginning of the start of [the] White Revolution in the United States.”

In the midst of this, where is the Church? How will the Church respond to such events and to the moral crisis we are witnessing? Too often, Christians have compartmentalized their faith, restricting it behind church walls and not allowing it to engage with the public out of fear of becoming too “political.” That cannot be the case anymore. The Church cannot claim that it is unwilling to participate in the happenings of the public with the oversimplified justification of separation of church and state. The Church must respond to what has happened, confess its shortcomings in shaping the country’s morality, and stand for justice on all fronts of life.

It is in the compartmentalizing that the Church has lost its edge and relevancy throughout. Considering how many churches approached COVID-19, this is quite obvious. Churches and Christians throughout the country demanded that they be allowed to worship the way they are accustomed to, that wearing masks and preventing large gatherings were offenses against their faith and that their freedom to worship however they chose had been stripped from them. These churches and Christians were so determined to separate their faith practice from the pandemic — a global, medical, economic, and political crisis — that they became hotspots for the virus, with countless outbreaks taking place. This inability to recognize communal responsibility as a call to care for the Body of Christ and to love one’s neighbor is what makes the world question the Church’s relevance.

The Church cannot look to the riot at the Capitol and claim that it is not to be involved in the political, when it is an obvious representation of America’s original sin. Nor can the Church look to COVID-19 and claim that it is not to be involved in the biological or medical, when it can sow its part to care for others. To take Karl Barth’s famous quote, for the Church to be relevant, in a time when the world steers more and more towards the secularized, it must not only focus on the Bible or an oversimplified understanding of the “spiritual” but must also look to the newspaper — the world — and address the intersection of the two. We are to interpret the world through our Christian lens.

As I write this post, I imagine that there will be some churches that make it a point to directly address the insurrection on Sunday (1/11/21) through prayers, sermons, and discussions, whereas others will avoid the historic day entirely to prevent awkwardness among congregants. Still, some might address it in passing, possibly inserted into a prayer or sermon as a one-liner. If the Church is unwilling to speak against threats to justice that takes place in our cities and country, how can the Church rightly speak about the God of justice? If the Church is unwilling to speak against the sins of the nation, how can the Church rightly speak about our sins against God and neighbor? If the Church is unwilling to call out oppressors, how can the Church rightly cry out to the God of the oppressed? The Church must respond.

Diana Kim is a pastor of a local Korean church in Torrance, CA. Her primary goals in serving are to teach and equip the next generation to be passionate for Jesus and to live out His passion and care for the world. Diana is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary and is majoring in Christian Ethics. Her current research area of interest is Asian American feminist ethics.

By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer

2020 was a year of conflicts, here in many parts of the world including the US and Hong Kong. 2020 was a year of unrest, going through change after change with the Covid pandemic. 2020 was a year of testing of our faith, hoping that this time would soon pass. 

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By Tina Teng-Henson

Conflict is an apt word to reflect upon at the end of this tumultuous year of battling COVID, even though it is Christmastime. 

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By Liz Chang

Conflict is uncomfortable. Sometimes people embrace it and dive right into it gracefully or combatively. Other times, people do everything they can to avoid it or prevent it. 

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Conflict: True North

By Emi Iwanaga

Photo by Spirit-Fire
 “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea
 in the days of Herod, the King,
 behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
 saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? 
 For we have seen his star in the east,
 and are come to worship him.”
 Matthew 2:1-2 
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By Joy Wong

Photo by weitz1

The other day, as I was surfing channels, I landed upon a far-right television show. The person speaking was speaking angrily about how “they say, ‘just shut up and move on.’ ‘Shut up and move on’ they say. Well I didn’t see them ‘shut up and move on’ about the 2016 election!”

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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by Sameer0406

I am sure that many, if not all of us, who are in helping professions are feeling the immense strain of working and serving during a year of turmoil.  It is a combination of a pandemic, an election year, and several civil movements that have left many feeling anxious, angry, apathetic, and more.  In the midst of ongoing external conflict between our city, state, and national leaders, I have also found myself fatigued by my own inner conflict I am experiencing on a day-to- day basis.

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By Melanie Mar Chow

As a college student of psychology, I often found myself visiting the library to find useful articles to navigate the abnormalities of the changing pace of life.  I knew that four years would pass quickly.  I needed to find some idea of a career path in college, or else I would not know where to go next. I appreciated having at my fingertips friends in the field of psychology who brought insights. Those same spurts of seeking still happen, but now on the internet looking for psychological and spiritual input. 

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By Debbie Gin

Photo by manhhai

A clear memory from when I was in youth group has haunted me for four decades.  It wasn’t Thanksgiving, but when asked to share what aspect of the retreat we were thankful for, one by one, all the opbas and unnees (older “brothers” and “sisters”) expressed how much their parents had sacrificed for them to attend the gathering.  By the time we got around the large circle, we were all sobbing.

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By Joy Wong

Photo by Tong Tuan Anh

As this month’s blog theme is “denial,” I looked up references to the word in the Bible. There aren’t too many. But this famous verse popped up: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24 NIV).

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