Monday, June 27, 2011

Worshiping at Grace and Peace Church

For the past few months Joe and I have been trying to go more regularly to Grace and Peace Mennonite Church in Hongdae in Seoul. It’s an hour commute by subway, we always seem to drag our feet getting there and we’re always late. But without fail, the commute is worth it.

Since we always arrive late, we always arrive during the singing. This past Sunday one of the song was to the tune of ‘God Save the King’ but some of the lyrics were as follows (there is usually a translation printed in English):
…He makes wars rage no more
sword, spear, the tools of war
we shall not fear…
It choked me up. In the several times that I have worshipped with other Mennonites in a language that is unfamiliar to me, it is sentiments like these that speak most powerfully to me. I am so profoundly grateful and humbled by my God who works and moves and is petitioned for peace by Christians all over the world in many tongues and traditions.

Themes of peace are powerfully woven into the worship of this congregation. Here in the music, and later on during the time of prayer, when we learned more about the village in Jeju island that is resisting the construction of a naval base on it’s shores. Grace and Peace will send envoys to stand with the villages in solidarity and protest. When we pray together, regardless of the language, I know that all of these voices are being raised in a petition for peace and justice, and I experience the feeling of joy in belonging to the ‘people of God’s peace.’

That same feeling of gratitude and belonging infuses my experience of Communion. As pastor Nam says the words of institution in Korean, I can whisper a translation of both words and ritual to Naomi, not because I understand but because I know. The knowing and participating in this community ritual is awesome. I find myself hungry for it, eager to get to this part of worship as soon as we walk through the door. Grace and Peace celebrates every Sunday and with all comers. It is a celebration to which all are welcome: children, guests, seekers, foreigners like me.

I think it is no coincidence that it is these two parts of this worshiping community, the commitment to peace and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, which touch me so deeply. Among so many other thematic threads, peacemaking and non-violence is woven into the celebration of Communion, and following and remembering the non-violent Christ is at the heart of my faith and that of the Anabaptist Community. Alan and Eleanor Kreider with Paula Widjaja, remind us in their book A Culture of Peace, that the Lord’s Supper forms us a people of equality, non-violence and reconciliation. At God’s table we are all equals, sharing the memory of Jesus, who’s life and death were the example of non-violence love. We come confessing our wrongs and making right our relationships with each other and our God. The early Anabaptist recognized this and celebrated the Lord’s supper as often as they gathered for worship.

I am grateful that I have been able to participate in this community. In a few weeks I will post more about Grace and Peace along with some pictures of me preaching there July 10. Thanks be to God!


Anonymous said...

I know this post was a few years ago, but do you know if the Grace and Peace Menno. Church is still there?? I'd love to visit it!

Amy Marie said...

As far as I know Grace and Peace is still worshiping at their location in Hongdae, in the Greek Restaurant by Ho Bar.