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By Philip Park, MNYD Asian American Ministries

As Christians, we’re no strangers to the profound significance of celestial events. The star that led the Wise Men to Bethlehem or the eclipse that darkened the sky at the crucifixion – the heavens have always played a part in our faith. But what about the Full Moon Festival in Asia, particularly for Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese? Can this luminous celebration hold any meaning for us believers?

It’s in our nature to honor and celebrate things together. That’s why every ethnic group has its own holidays. When a holiday approaches, people get excited about coming together to honor and celebrate something, affirming their identity and sharing friendship and intimacy with one another. Christians, being human, are not completely immune to these social and cultural phenomena. Therefore, Christians must have the wisdom to understand and respond appropriately to the spiritual aspects of the holidays.

In the heart of Asia, the Full Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival as some call it, is a radiant spectacle. Families gather beneath the resplendent moon, their faces aglow with joy, and they offer thanks for the harvest. Lanterns of all shapes and colors light up the night, creating an ethereal world beneath the open sky. And here’s the kicker – the moon is at its fullest and brightest during this festival.

Let’s journey into the vibrant tapestry of the Full Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving, from a Christian standpoint.

Picture this: The air is crisp, leaves ablaze with hues of amber and gold, and the aroma of freshly harvested rice wafts through the air. That’s the Full Moon Festival, a radiant celebration where families in the Far East gather to honor the autumn harvest, their heritage, and their loved ones.

Gratitude at the Core: At the heart of the Full Moon Festival is an attitude of thankfulness. Families gather to express gratitude for the year’s abundant harvest. As Christians, this resonates deeply with us. Gratitude is the heartbeat of our faith; it’s not only for earthly provisions but also for the spiritual blessings God showered upon us.

Family and Unity: The Full Moon Festival, much like our own holiday gatherings, places a strong emphasis on family. It’s a time to fortify bonds and share love, echoing the importance of unity and love within our families and the broader church community.

Honoring Ancestry: It isn’t just about the present; it pays homage to ancestors too. We, too, possess a rich spiritual heritage – saints and believers who’ve paved the way. We remember them through traditions like the Lord’s Supper and the wisdom passed down through generations.

Sharing Abundance: Just as mouthwatering dishes and Full Moon Festival delicacies are shared during the festivities; Christians are called to share our blessings. The story of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus multiplied meager resources to feed multitudes, reminds us of the power of sharing and generosity.

Harvest of Souls: Although it celebrates an earthly harvest, Chuseok also prompts us to reflect on the spiritual harvest. It’s an opportune moment to ponder the souls we can reach and invite into God’s family.

Sharing Blessings: In many Asian cultures, mooncakes symbolize well wishes and blessings, much like our own practice of sharing bread and wine during communion. The act of giving and sharing during the festival harmonizes with our Christian values.

In the end, the Full Moon Festival, with its luminous moon, enchanting lanterns, and messages of unity and gratitude, serves as a poignant reminder of God’s boundless creativity and love. It underscores the significance of coming together as a community and relishing the wonders of His creation. So, when you next gaze upon the full moon illuminating the night sky, consider it a reminder of the enduring light of Christ, forever radiant even in our darkest moments. Christians are to value and accept all things spiritually according to the Bible. Holidays are no exception to this. Neither the degree of kinship, nor the identity and homogeneity of a people, nor the Word of God by which the whole universe was created, can take precedence. Therefore, people should live their lives with a deep consideration of what they value more and what they value less (Matthew 6:24).

I hope this creative perspective on the Full Moon Festival and Chuseok resonates with your Christian viewpoint. Feel free to adapt and personalize it to your liking!

(New International Version)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to
walk humbly[a] with your God.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,    what God is looking for in men and women.It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,    be compassionate and loyal in your love,And don’t take yourself too seriously—    take God seriously.

Wow, we made it! Seven weeks have passed quickly. I hope this season of Lent was a time committed to being intentional with the Lord. I trust you were able to devote spending time in the Lord’s presence and listening to hear how he might be guiding you in this time of your life.

The world is filled with lots of noise and distractions. As I said a few weeks ago, we might even be tempted to be in despair. Everywhere you look there just seems to be bad news all around. But if I can remind you of an old church hymn I remember singing when I was a little girl, it said “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace” (Author, Helen Howarth Lemmel, [1922]).

Sometimes in our journey of walking with the Lord we lose sight of the reality that the Lord is God, and he is God all by himself. Our passion for the lost and for ministry at times can cause us to be so vested in the outcome that we become misguided in our understanding of our duty. We are called to be proclaimers of the gospel and to be committed to living the gospel message as a credible witness. Sometimes we lose sight of this reality and drift into a posture that is not ours but Christ alone.

Jesus is the Messiah. The one and only lamb slain for our sins. The only one who took our sins upon himself and was crucified in our place. Jesus is the only one who died for our sins, he is resurrected, and lives victoriously. We can live because He lives.

We have reflected on Micah 6:8 for the past three weeks. We have embraced the call to have right actions, words, and attitudes, in the sight of God and our neighbor. We have embraced the call to Love Mercy through reconciliation and obedience. Loving Christ our Savior and our neighbor, not through the rigid and cold framework of religious engagements but through the authentic embrace and proximity of relationship with God and neighbor. 

The risk of pursuing the Christian life is that when we face rejection, we take it personal and might even desire to dismiss those who dismiss us. However, I am reminded of the grievance God had with Israel from part 1 of this series. 

God was displeased with his so-called followers and accused them of abandoning their covenant with him. A covenant rooted in unconditional love. A covenant that compelled followers to live authentically and not hypocritically. A covenant rooted in love where relationships with God and neighbor are not discarded for cheapened religious practices. In other words, your relationship with the Lord is your priority and not your individual wants. As Micah 6:8 states it, the believer is called to walk humbly with God. 

The relationship Jesus had with the Father was rooted in love and obedience and we are called to have the same kind of relationship with Jesus. When our love for Christ is our priority, we will also love our neighbors well. We will not consider ourselves more important that we ought to, and humility will guide our interactions. 

As we approach the eve of remembering Jesus’ last night with his disciples in the upper room for the Passover meal, (just before his crucifixion), he vividly lived Micah 6:8. Christ prepared to physically demonstrate justice for his disciples and the world through his crucifixion. He extended love and mercy to his disciples and the world, as he prepared to be the loving sacrifice that would reconcile us to the Father. Finally, he humbled himself, even onto death. Death on a cross, a death of humiliation. 

I am beyond grateful for all that Christ has done. May the close of this season of Lent cause you to not only reflect on the acts of Jesus but may you also ask, 

  1. How is Christ calling me to live differently? 
  2. Is Christ reminding you not to consider yourself with greater value than you should? 
  3. Is Christ asking of you how may you not only act justly and love mercy but how will you walk humbly before others and with the Lord?

Let us Pray: 

Gracious Lord may your words search me. May you reveal yourself to me even more today. May you help me to see what you see when you look at me, so that I may respond to your love as I seek your will, your way, and your love in my life. And may I live my witness of you to others, so that they may know you through me. Amen! 

By Althea Taylor, Director of CJI

NIV: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Message: 2 Corinthians 5: 16-20
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

Last week we looked at Micah 6:8 and reflected on the first requirement the Prophet Micah reiterated to the children of Israel; Act Justly! This week we reflect on the second, Love Mercy!

Love Mercy is the second of three imperatives the prophet Micah calls the children of Israel to remember and embrace in response to God’s disappointment with their behavior. The Lord has declared that his chosen people have abandoned their covenant and they are being summoned to return as the prophet reminds them of what is required: right action, right words and right attitudes. God’s children are called to:
1. abandon living lives full of inconsistencies, 

2. participating in cheap and empty religious practices, and 

3. demonstrating a love of their neighbor. 

We must act, say, and live lives motivated from a genuine love for the Lord. As the saying goes, talk is cheap: our walk and talk must match. If we are to live into an authentic covenantal relationship with Christ, we must not only embody just acts rooted in our love for God they must also be extended in love to others.“Love Mercy” is a call to reconciliation and obedience. Reconciliation and obedience is lived through right relationship, not right religion – relationships that are expressed in a credible witness with God and with neighbor.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 reminds us that we are called to see one another not from a worldly point of view but as brothers, sisters, neighbors. When we became followers of Jesus we were called to view each other differently – the “old you” is gone and the “new you” has arrived, and so your socialization to God and neighbor is now different because you are different. 

This difference calls us, in love, to be not only recipients of grace but extenders of grace also. We not only proclaim the message of reconciliation, but we are called to be reconcilers in the way we live Christ’s love in our world. Reconciliation calls us to put an end to hostility and is closely related to the term justify (Romans 5:9-10).

Christ’s coming into the world and dying in our place, even as He bore all of our sins, has reconciled our relationship with the Father, and put an end to the hostile relationship caused by sin and deserving of death. 

Jesus’ action on the Cross was more than justice, it was also an act of compassion. I once heard Dr. Tom Nees, a beloved leader in the Church of the Nazarene, a man who embodied a credible Christian witness and for whom we have named our ministry in his honor (the Tom Nees Center for Justice, Compassion & Immigration) once said:  “Compassion is not something we do, compassion is something we are!

Theologian Henri Nouwen in his book “Compassion” writes: 

Compassion asks us…“to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human”.

So, if Act Justly is:

  1. right action – not participating in unjust behaviors
  2. right words – not participating in unjust speech
  3. right attitude – not adhering to unjust attitudes that lead to unjust behaviors

then Love Mercy is:

  1. being in a relationship that demonstrates we are at peace with God & neighbor
  2. being fully immersed in living out what it means to forgive and be forgiven 
  3. being a demonstration of what it means to “feel” with those who are “feeling.” A denial of self for the cause of Christ! RECONCILIATION

As this Lent season is drawing to a close, now more than ever, let us reflect on what Jesus spending time with the Father in the wilderness prepared him to do and to be in his earthly ministry. As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) we are called to be his reflection of such love.


  1. As you think about your relationship with Jesus and your witness of His love to the world, are you challenged by today’s reflection?
  2. If yes, in what ways do you sense the Lord calling you to adjust your spiritual posture before God and your witness before others?

Pray: Gracious Lord, have mercy on me. I desire to live for you and demonstrate your love to those around me. As a part of your church, help me to join with like-minded Christians and live as a credible witness in the world, of your love. A love that is demonstrated by living in peace with you and others, knowing that because I have been forgiven, I am called to forgive, and walk in empathy with all you place in my path.

By Althea Taylor, Director of CJI

Micah 6:8 (NIV) 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly
[a] with your God.

Micah 6:8 (The Message)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously.

We are reminded of God’s heart for justice in Micah 6:8. This verse ends a portion of Scripture, (Micah 6:1-8), where God states grievances held against the children of God (Israel). The children of Israel are accused of having a response of ingratitude and rebellion in response to God’s grace. They are guilty of:

As I think about our present predicament, in the church, I urge us to be careful how harshly we judge the “Children of Israel”, God’s chosen people. Our present condition within the church of Jesus Christ is not so different. An assessment of our present predicament indicates that as Christians, we often identify more closely with political systems that fail to put the interest of hurting communities first. Rather than representing God’s heart for the poor and marginalized, we have ingrained ourselves in political, economic, and social landscapes that are troubling at best and despairing at their worst. 

We seem to be entrenched in times of fractured political systems that fail to put the interest of hurting communities first. The interest of partisan politics seems to have become the order of business for many Christians regardless of their political affiliation. All of this, resulting in apathy because of the hateful rhetoric and growing mistrust of politicians.

Although there is some economic growth, growth in inflation seems to be outpacing economic growth, as many within are communities are struggling to care for basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing, etc.

Our world is full of endless examples of social unrest demonstrated everyday through acts of biases, tensions, and inequities towards Asians, Hispanics, and Blacks even as the church is eerily silent in her witness of love for neighbor.

Where are our voices to advocate for the stranger amongst us? Why are we so silent? Where are our collective voices for communities subjected to biased immigration policies that appears to be intrinsically broken in offering refuge, as we are compelled to demonstrate love for our neighbor?   

Upon reflection, God’s grievance against Israel in Micah 6:1-8 can easily be applied to His church today. As we reach the midpoint of Lent in commemorating Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested (Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Mark 1:12-13), we are also being tested. Let us reflect on God’s grievances of Israel. Is the same true of us, who are called to be Christ’s ambassadors to the world (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

The first portion of Micah 6 states, “act justly”. What does “act justly” mean? I believe it is a call to return to a covenantal relationship with God demonstrated through: 

  1. right action – not participating in unjust behaviors
  2. right words – not participating in unjust speech
  3. right attitude – not adhering to unjust attitudes that lead to unjust behaviors

Instead let us participate in small steps for justice by challenging the status quo through “our actions” demonstrated in love for God and neighbor. After-all, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).


  1. As you think about your relationship with Jesus and your witness of His love to the world, are you challenged by today’s reflection?
  2. If yes, in what ways do you sense the Lord calling you to adjust your spiritual posture before God and your witness before others?


Gracious Lord, have mercy on me. I desire to live for you and demonstrate your love to those around me. As a part of your church, help me to join with like-minded Christians and live as a credible witness in the world, of your love, demonstrated through right action, right words, and a right attitude.

By Lenmarie Pascal, District Licensed Minister

“Acts such as genocide happen when one fails to appreciate the humanity of others.” – Paul Bloom, The New Yorker

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. – Genesis 1:26a NLT

My first encounter with this level of carnage was Hotel Rwanda, a movie based on the real-life hotel owner Paul Rusesabagina staged during the Rwandan genocide between the Hutu’s and Tutsis. In one memorable scene, Paul and a hotel staff are driving through fog one early morning, the ride becomes so rough that they believe they’ve driven off the road and to potential danger. They make a stop, Paul exists the vehicle and falls on dead bodies, children and adults alike. The fog then clears, and for miles ahead the road is filled with a bloodbath of Tutsis. What kind of humans would do such a thing?

In the book, Mirror to the Church, the author describes the intimate involvement of the church in the genocide. He tells of Hutu pastors giving up their Tutsi congregants to be slaughtered and most notably describes the joyful Easter Saturday choir practice, where Hutu and Tutsi members sang and worshiped together until the next day, Easter Sunday, when Hutus “grabbed their clubs and machetes [and] went straight off to killing”. This image of the Body of Christ turning against each other is not unique to Rwanda, or even to genocide. It is a occurrence that repeats itself throughout the American church specifically on the issue of the ‘other’. Church leaders debasing women, racist comments preached from the pulpit and the rejection of the foreigner at the border lines. 

In our own country we hear immigrants called ‘rapist’, thugs, drug dealers and the like. The Church is on the frontlines rallying against these vulnerable populations and are split on issues of justice on borders despite the scriptures admonition to show hospitality to strangers. To answer my first question, I would suggest that the type of human that would do such a thing are the ones who fail to acknowledge the Imago Dei in the ‘other’. Are those rallying to kick Haitians out of the country much different that the Hutus that had disdain for their neighbors? Are those that look at Mexicans only as laborers much different from the men who brought Africans as slaves on the White Lion in 1619? How do we see our neighbor? It is easy to assess extreme cases like genocide and assume that those people are savages but just like them we often fail to see the humanity of others. 

To see the Imago Dei in someone means to regard them as Christ, to know, that like you, they were created in the image and likeness of God. They were bought with a price and given a purpose. It is imperative, that as Christ-followers, we see the humanity of the other, not as a project to save but as a brother, a sister, a friend. 


Take the time to investigate what your relationship with the ‘other’ has been? 

Start with the people in your community, the beggars on the street, the young men at the corner store. 

Broaden your refection to those on the boarder, those on the margins. 

Can you see the Imago Dei in the “others” you have identified? 

Pray: Lord, I thank you and bless your name for loving humanity so deeply to place your Image in us. Help me today to love and embrace all who I see, as your image bearers. Reveal to me, my blind spots, where I fail to see you and respond to your image in each person I meet. Give me wisdom to not only see myself, but to see others and to respond with your love. My heart desires to do your will. I pray your strength for where I am weak and courage for where I am fearful. Use me for your glory, In Jesus Name, Amen. 

By Rev. Bruce Barnard

It seems almost impossible today, an entire segment of humanity marching in unknown territory trying to escape oppression, violence, and death. Yet, for several weeks now we’ve been bombarded with image after image, story after story – millions of Ukrainians forced to leave behind homes, belongings, and family, seeking shelter and safety. It’s a journey to uncertainty, to a future they did not seek, nor one they asked for. There is no certainty awaiting them on the other end, only a glimmer of hope in humanity. Most of us do not, nor ever will, identify with this wilderness experience. 

Jesus picked the wilderness to be alone, to pray, to seek the face and presence of his Father. Yet even in that lonely place, he encountered something, really someone; someone with a singular goal of dislodging Jesus’ journey. Satan thought the way to deter Jesus from his mission was to simply place in front of him earthly temptations. (Luke 4:1-13) Jesus had no problem resisting those temptations, but I wonder do we?

The Lenten journey is much like that for us (or it ought to be). We have a destination, Christ, but getting there will require sacrifice, setting down and leaving aside our possessions, our habits, the things we know and love. During the Lenten season many of us will forgo something – a specific food or drink (coffee tops most lists, but not mine!), distractions like television, social media, and wasteful activities. It’s not just about laying those things aside however; it’s about laying them aside SO THAT we can pay attention to the wilderness journey and to the thing(s) that God is asking of us. 

I can imagine for some of the Ukrainians traveling hundreds of miles to perceived safety there will be temptation after temptation to doubt, to crumble, to quit: “What am I doing?” “Should we turn back?” “What if we get there and no one wants us?” “How can I leave behind all I know and love? Why are we suffering so?” 

Your journey will be different; my journey will be different. But Christ is beckoning us this Lent to see him differently, to see how he is operating in the ditches and abandon buildings of towns and cities under siege; to see how he’s reaching others. It’s a call to US to come and follow him, wherever he leads. 

What will you do? 

By Karen Chavez

For years, the United States has received immigrants and refugees from other lands. Fleeing from injustice and oppression, seeking freedom and the opportunity of a better life; and many have found it here. But at the same time, we recognize that some aspects of the immigrant experience are far from the vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. Many people who try to migrate are suffering, and in some cases dying; human rights are violated; families are separated; and racist and xenophobic attitudes continue to exist.

With immigrants present in our churches and communities, we must allow our common faith in Jesus to move us to look for ways to love and care for them. We ought to do this in a way that transcends borders and eliminates all forms of discrimination and violence, building relationships of justice and love.
In the Old Testament we see the heart of God in regard to migrant people. 

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19).

Here God tells the people of Israel who He is, His character, who they used to be, and what they ought to do – to love the foreigner and marginalized in their land.

In the New Testament, Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, to foreign lands, to announce the Good News, and to unite all peoples, through faith and baptism (see Mt 28:16-20). Jesus sealed this mandate by sending the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-21). It is the Holy Spirit who has been present throughout the history of the Church to act against injustice, division, and oppression. It is the Holy Spirit that fights to achieve respect for human rights, the unity of races and cultures, and the incorporation of the foreigner and marginalized in the full life of the Church.

What do these scriptures mean to us today? First, we see a guideline of how God wants us to love the foreigner. But to obey this wholeheartedly, we must surrender ourselves to God, be entirely sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. This will enable us to fulfill the Great Commandment: 

Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength… and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). 

This full conversion of heart and mind, results in the need to overcome attitudes of cultural superiority, indifference, and racism; not to see the foreigner as a stranger with bad intentions, a terrorist, or an economic threat, but as our neighbor, a person full of dignity and rights who was made in the image of God. 


Lord we ask today that you would open our eyes and hearts to those around us who are suffering from the injustices of racism and discrimination, who are far from home seeking refuge in an unknown environment. Would you lead us towards Christ-filled compassion, generously welcoming them into our churches, homes, and communities. We pray specifically today for the millions of people fleeing Ukraine and seeking refuge in other countries as theirs is under attack. Lord continue to send those stirred towards love and compassion to their aid.