Easter Sunday

Love Letter from Yǎ Wēi Pó-Po

just then I
went to clean your room,
sweep the floor.

now listen –

these hand that
smell of garlic and
look like maps
pull so tight
the seam of all creation
to be close to you.

after all,
you are mine – we are
family.

call me, okay? even if
you say nothing, you just breathe
quiet by the receiver,
I hold your voice to my ear –

I hear you, maybe
you hear me too but
do not understand.

please do not worry, bǎo-bèi.
I know the trip cost so much,
across a long universe
with that load on your shoulders,
but look, I already buy
you your ticket home –

ai shh-ya, be quiet.
you make me smile, silly child.
put away your coin.

I already buy
you your ticket home.


雅威 (Yǎ Wēi)
A translation of Yahweh common with Chinese Catholics; literally: “ethereal authority”

婆婆 (pó-po)
Matron, grandmother, mother-in-law

寶貝 (bǎo-bèi)
Precious, treasure, darling


Created by: Ophelia Hu Kinney
About the author: Ophelia Hu Kinney is a second-generation Chinese American living in Maine with her wife. She is the daughter of circumstantial pragmatists and the sister of a hopeful romantic. Her work has appeared in The Common and HESA Inprint, and under a pseudonym, she blogs with her wife about LGBTQ Christian life and identity. Contact her at opheliahukinney(at)gmail.com if you’d like to read their blog.

Image by: Ellie Yang Camp
About the artist: Ellie is a professional calligrapher based in Mountain View, California whose first meal in heaven will be the perfect bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

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Lent Day 38 | John 21

Today’s reading: John 21

ReflectionThe Church often emphasizes The Great Commission, where Jesus calls his disciples to go forth to all the nations to spread the good news and make disciples as Jesus’ final and most important directive (Matt 25:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:45-46). However, Jesus’ final and most important command can be found in the final directive of John and of all the gospels: The Great Compassion. Jesus shows us his love by providing and caring for us, and in return, we are to show our love for him by tending his sheep.

We prepare ourselves for Good Friday with the last chapter in the gospel of John, when Jesus blows the minds of some chosen disciples by providing fish for them. Jesus then asks Peter three times if he loves him. When Peter responds affirmatively, Jesus commands Peter to tend his sheep each time. This account at the end of the gospel of John distinctively differs from the first three gospels that emphasize The Great Commission. Instead of giving the command that generations of Christians have used as the justification to subjugate native cultures and religions, and disrupt economies, Jesus provides food and livelihood for his disciples, calls them to love him, and to love and tend his sheep. And who are his sheep? The poor, the downtrodden, the widows, the needy. But his modern day sheep also include the dreamer whose fate is uncertain, the refugee with no safe haven, the rape survivor who is dismissed, the queer young person who is rejected by their family and forced into homelessness, the transwoman of color who risks her life everyday by existing, and the black man who lives in fear of police violence.

We have spent this Lenten season looking inward with reflection. Let us end the season by responding to Jesus’ call for The Great Compassion by looking forward and outward. Let us show our love for Jesus by tending his sheep. He has commissioned us to be moved by love to take action in caring for, protecting, and fighting for those who have been marginalized. Let us heed his final and most important directive to love loudly.

“The moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.”
– bell hooks


Created by: Serena Cerezo Poon
About the author: Serena is a Bay Area girl with a side of NYC attitude. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her wife Melissa and their baby and two pups. She works in finance by day and does her best to bring the queer and Christian communities together by night.

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Image by: Sheri Park
About the artist: Sheri Park is an interdisciplinary visual artist, with a focus on video & performance. She completed her undergraduate degree from Union College in 2013, and her Certificate in Theology and Art from Fuller Seminary in 2015. When she’s not making art or at her graphic design job, she enjoys making breakfast, reading, and watching ducks by the lake with her husband in Fremont, California.

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Lent Day 37 | John 20:19-31

Today’s reading: John 20:19-31

OpeningDear God,

Thank you for this day as we near the conclusion of Lent. Help remind us that it is through your example that we seek justice, and through you we find hope. But also help us remember that even you took a day of rest, and that we too, can rest as well.

Amen

ReflectionSo here we are, almost to the finish line. If you have given something up or taken something on, congrats! You’re almost there!

Today’s reading is John 20:19-31, also known as the story of Doubting Thomas. Jesus has just risen from the dead, but Thomas insists that, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Think about this for a second. This is someone who Jesus has hand-selected to accompany him on his journeys, and who has borne witness to countless miracles and, more than anyone, should believe in the possibility that Jesus has risen, as he promised.

And yet, he doesn’t. But Jesus isn’t vindictive about Thomas’s lack of faith. He doesn’t shun Thomas, but instead comes to him, and accepts him as he is.

You are enough. Say it to yourself, aloud.

I am enough.

Say it again, and again, and as many times as you need to. It’s hard being enough – American enough, or being Chinese enough. Living up to cultural expectations, not good enough grades, not good enough work, not high enough salary, not a good enough marriage, not changing our world fast enough, etc.

If we continue down this road, we’ll burn out. Being enough doesn’t mean we aren’t flawed, or that we don’t have baggage. And this story isn’t supposed to push us to have unshakable faith in God. We doubt because there is so much hurt in this world, school shootings, police killings, corrupt governments-the list can go on forever. It is tiring to read the news, it is tiring to fight. But the point is that Jesus is willing to meet us as we are, regardless of who we are and how the world perceives us. Maybe there are days we lose faith about how we can change things – but Jesus is there anyway. Yes, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” but blessed also are those who are like doubting Thomas. Because it is when we doubt and demand answers, that we need Jesus the most.

ClosingHow can we pursue justice, but remember to come back to Jesus at the end of the day and find rest?


Created by: Yumei Lin
About the author: Hello! Born and raised in SoCal. I’m an unapologetic nerd, fangirl, literary geek, dedicated moviegoer, and adventurer in my hometown of Los Angeles.

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Image by: Elizabeth Tsung
About the artist: Cat mama. Serving Jesus. Obsessed with carbs.

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Lent Day 36 | John 20:1-18

Today’s reading: John 20:1-18

ReflectionMary came to the tomb before sunrise. She’s alone when the angels ask her why she’s weeping. It’s likely that in her grief she didn’t realize who they were or why their presence was odd. She didn’t care; she just wanted to be with Jesus. Her teacher, the one who cast demons out of her and set her free, was gone, not even a body left to care for. She doesn’t know it’s Jesus who asks her why she weeps and who she’s looking for. Please, she says, just tell me where you put him so I can take care of him, so I can be there for him the way he was there for me. Please.

She knows it’s just a body. She knows Jesus isn’t alive anymore. She knows his tomb will eventually hold nothing but dust and emptiness. But if sitting by his body is all she has, she’ll take it. And when that body goes missing, she doesn’t give up. The other disciples have gone home, not even to report the body or look for it. They just leave. But Mary stays. She wants to be with Jesus.

God wants the same thing that Mary wants – to be reunited. In Mary’s mind, the best she can settle for is watching and weeping over her Rabboni until he returns to dust. But God doesn’t ask us to settle for a love that has us sit by a cold, dusty tomb, where nothing but ashes and chill linger.

Isn’t it strange how insistent Mary is on finding Jesus’ body? What good will it do her now? All of the other apostles have left. None of them have tried to find Jesus’ body. And yet, here is Mary asking, “Where is Jesus?”

What a beautiful moment it must have been when Mary finally realizes who is standing in front of her. He says to her, “Mary!” and suddenly, she knows him. Jesus calls her by name, and she sees that her precious Rabboni has returned to her.

When Mary doesn’t realize who Jesus is yet, she asks for his body to be returned so she can care for it. What she doesn’t know is that Jesus has risen again. Mary finally understands: the tomb isn’t empty because hope has fled. It’s empty because Jesus is alive.

All of creation is about the longing and love of God, and this moment of resurrection is the culmination of that love. Not even death can separate us from God. We may grieve for the things we’ve lost, but God wants to give us more than we can imagine, and has more in store for us than we can believe.

Sometimes people ask, “How could Mary not recognize Jesus?” There are many theories, but maybe one facet is that we can be so focused on what we think needs to be done that we miss what’s already happened. We don’t yet understand.

Everywhere we look, there’s work to be done. There’s death, grief, destruction. We see a very clear picture of the ugliness that humans visit upon one another. It’s devastating when you realize how vast systems of oppression can be. What hope is there that they’ll be dismantled in our lifetime? In the lifetime of our children or our grandchildren??

But God is doing the work. God has already done the work. You are not alone. I am not alone. We have not been abandoned. Our place in this plot isn’t solely to grieve by an empty tomb, to lament the ways we harm one another, to desperately wish for direction and help. Yes, there is despair, but there is also hope.

God wants more for us than we can imagine.

Mary was focused on doing what she could, and that put her in the right place to see Jesus before anyone else did. Even if she couldn’t see a glimpse of God’s plan, she came to the tomb. She’s doing what she can.

And in those bleak moments of grief and despair, she couldn’t have imagined a future like this. God gives Mary more than what she asks for. God doesn’t give her back a corpse; God makes a brand-new creation.

Earlier in the morning, she only had bad news to deliver, and now she runs to tell Good News. Carry that Good News, friends. We have hope for a future that’s even brighter than the one we’re working towards. There is a God who is doing the work, and has already done it.

God calls us by name, shows us a new creation, and waits for that moment when we understand. God wants to be known, and they’re going to show us the most dazzling display of love we can imagine. They don’t tell us to stop crying; they ask us what we’re looking for and then wait for us to see them, standing in front of us.


Created by: Stella Won
About the author: Stella is a second-gen KA who lives in Southern California. She has a passing interest in most things and a passionate interest in justice, literature, representation in media, education, food, pop culture, crafting, and all things cute. She is addicted to personality tests, but never agrees with the results.

Image by: Hannah Yoon
About the artist: Hannah Yoon is a freelance photographer/photojournalist based in Ontario. She focuses on issues revolving around race and identity.

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Lent Day 35 | John 19

Today’s reading: John 19

OpeningGod, open our souls and our bodies to a new understanding of this old story. Amen.

ReflectionI have this memory from my third grade Sunday school class. We were given a big, thick metal nail, and the story of Jesus’ crucifixion was recited, but this time with all its gory details–the blood, the nakedness, the suffocation, all of it. I guess my church had decided that third grade was the big moment to tell the children the real story of Jesus’ death.

I was shocked.

I held that nail in my young, smooth hand and imagined someone hammering it into my flesh. And I was appropriately upset.

Because I was privileged enough to live for most of my young life without witnessing physical cruelty, I held the death of Jesus up as a singular event of humanity’s great sin against God. The metaphor of my own little transgressions–my anger, my occasional meanness toward a friend–likened to the nails that pierce the flesh of my Lord and Savior was about the only meaning I was given for the story, so I tried to believe in that metaphor and to feel as much guilt as I could muster for what was, honestly, not all that evil.

Today, I have grown up in many ways–including in my faith–and my understanding of the crucifixion of Jesus is very different. Today, I understand that what is sacred and significant about Jesus’ death is not that it is a unique and singular event, but that it is, tragically, an extremely common event. In his own time, crucifixion, torture, and violent militant intimidation were common ways of terrorizing the colonized public into both complicity and rebellion.

And, now that I am an adult paying attention to my world, I see cruelty, suffering, and crucifixion everywhere. From the domestic abuse of my own loved ones to the separation of undocumented immigrants from their loved ones. From news stories of Freddie Gray’s lynching in the back of a police van to family stories of the torture and disappearance of Chinese and Taiwanese people on various sides of the conflicts of the last century. As a pastor in the community and within my own family, I have come to know more stories of cruel abuse than I could have ever imagined in that third grade Sunday School class.

The taking of a life full of God’s divine purpose was not a singular event that occured in first century Jerusalem.

Crucifixion occurs everyday. It is, truly, our great sin against God, and it is these violent systems of oppression (that benefit many of us) that are the nails that pierce the flesh of our Lord and Savior everyday.

Truly, the significance of Jesus’ death is that it illuminates and dramatizes the horror of our world’s cruelty against so many of God’s children. And the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is that it illuminates and dramatizes the magnitude of God’s victory and redemption on behalf of those most harmed by our world.

ClosingWhere have you known Christ’s crucifixion in your life, in the lives of your ancestors, or in the world around?


Created by: Rev. Vicki Flippin
About the author: Rev. Vicki Flippin is the Associate Pastor of New Communities at St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church in New York City​, where she is creating new LGBTQ-affirming Christian communities that center people of color. She is also the Co-Pastor of LaMP, a progressive Protestant campus ministry near Columbia University.​ ​Passionate about racial and LGBTQ justice​, Vicki serves as Co-President of the Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and blogs periodically for Huffington Post​.

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Image by: Steven Lee
About the artist: Steven Lee is an 18 year old Taiwanese American. He has been doing fine art all his life, exploring digital art at Chapman University, and he also enjoys singing in choir and a cappella groups, playing violin and composing/arranging songs. Music, art, the love of Jesus, and sociology are the main focuses of his life, and he is dedicated to connecting the four of them in unifying and healing this world’s injustices along with others like-minded.

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