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On Lament vs. Whining

June 18, 2016
Korea Forum participants in Macau

Sue Park-Hur (second from left) on Macau pilgrimage with Protestant and Catholic Korean participants at the Hong Kong Reconciliation Forum.

Wonderful article in The Mennonite by Sue Park-Hur on recent Northeast Asia Reconciliation Forum in Hong Kong.  One excerpt from “Lament That Leads to Hope”:

Ellen Davis of Duke Divinity School gave a lecture on the Psalms of lament. She reminded us that lament is a spiritual practice that does not come naturally. Whining comes naturally, but lament is difficult theological work. Complaint is natural, but it does not transform us, whereas in the process of genuine lamenting to God, new vision unfolds and we can be transformed.

Her insights gave us a framework to lament the pain and despair we see so much in Northeast Asia. It provided a guideline to trust that the one we cry out to hears and transforms us, bringing us to a place of hope.

Sue also tells a moving story of our Macau pilgrimage. Known as the “Vegas of Asia,” less known is Macau’s place in the origins of Christianity shared by Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.  Sue tells of standing under a statue of Korean martyr who was the first Catholic priest in Korea:

It was in Macau in 1826, at the age of sixteen, that St. Andrew Kim first came to study at the seminary. Later, in 1844, he was ordained in Shanghai and returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. He was martyred for his faith in 1846 in Korea at the age of 25.

As a mother of a 16-year-old son, I considered not only the immense calling and sacrifice of St. Andrew Kim, but of his parents… In standing before the statue with other Korean participants [both Protestant and Catholic], I recognized that this was sacred ground. The kernel of wheat that fell and died has indeed produced many seeds. We who gathered under St. Andrew’s statue were Koreans living in South and North Korea, Canada, and the U.S. Although we were from multiple denominational backgrounds, we have committed to the work of peace and reconciliation, recognizing that this is at the heart of the gospel. The work before us is a gift and a privilege given to us from the sacrifices of our ancestors, and we embrace the calling to continue following Jesus who unites us.

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