We are faith leaders representing many different traditions and congregations who seek to promote understanding, dialogue, and common purpose in our community. This space offers members of our association an opportunity to share reflections with the broader community. The writings represent our individual views, not the positions of the Association or of our respective congregations. We aim to model dialogue that welcomes a diversity of ideas and perspectives grounded in friendship and respect.
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‘A Memory of Assisi’ - Rev. Steven Kim, Pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church
‘A Memory of Assisi’ Rev. Steven Kim, Pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church
In January 2020, my wife and I made a trip to Italy along with another couple who are my colleagues. We stayed the first two nights in Rome and drove to our second destination in the Tuscany area. On our way to the world-wide famous winery region, we stopped by the medieval town of Assisi. It is built on the slope of a mountain which boasts a picturesque scenery. Especially the sunsets, they were breathtakingly beautiful which was a bonus to us.
Our primary goal in Assisi, however, was to trace the remnants of St. Francis. I guess you are familiar with the life story of the saint. We walked about 10 minutes from the mouth of the old town to the Assisi Monastery or Basilica, which is located at the northwestern corner of the town. It consists of three different sanctuaries on three floors. Unlike many other magnificent cathedrals in the country, the Assisi Monastery is not commercialized. Tourists are not allowed to speak in the sanctuaries. You shall hear the message, ‘Please remain silent’ through the speaker system like every three minutes.
The most memorable scene was preserved in the basement sanctuary also called the crypt. There I could see the blackened remains of St. Francis through the transparent glass of the coffin. It was on display at the middle-tier of the catholic style altar. It was such an inspiring experience for me to seat on a pew and pray for a few minutes while seeing his remains. I normally close my eyes in my prayers but made an exception in this case.
I mediated on the altruistic lifestyle of the saint. He sold all his possessions in outreaching the people in need and helping them out. In my prayers I asked God to empower me to emulate his lifestyle. Also, the famous song known as ‘Prayer of St. Francis’ rang in my heart during my mediation. (Its author is anonymous). It was a perfect place for me to meditate on its lyrics.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union…to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”
We left the town at dusk leaving the fascinating sunset behind after staying there through the afternoon. I hope to have an opportunity to revisit the town for a few days in the future in deepening my spiritual experience.
going to write this blog about something different, but the recent events,
especially the most recent shooting in a San Diego synagogue on the last day of
Passover have totally occupied my thoughts. I am
preparing a small service for my students for Yom HaShaoah- Holocaust Remembrance
Day.We usually light a candle and read
some poems and sing a song.I felt I
needed to do more this year.The
Holocaust is not some distant past event of history.The students have seen videos of Nazis marching
on the streets of American cities yelling anti-Semitic slogans.Houses of worship are targets of violence of
hate all over the globe, including 2 synagogues here in our country. These acts
of hate and ignorance must be confronted head on, and Holocaust Remembrance Day
seems the perfect day to begin. As a
clergy member, these recent events have left me bereft and downtrodden.My faith is tested, and my sadness is all encompassing.Of course, I see the goodness in those who
rise up against such hate.He…
It is common practice for Unitarian Universalist ministers and their congregations to include in our Letter of Agreement (contract) provision for a sabbatical every five to seven years, accrued at a rate of one month per year, for up to six months. I’m in my ninth year of service with the UU Fellowship at Stony Brook and last year, finally, I felt the time was right to take a sabbatical. So last winter, January through March, I left my congregation to it’s own good governance, with guest coverage for every service I would have led, and emergency pastoral care coverage by various other UU ministers on our island through an exchange program we formed just for that purpose. I had two aims for the use of my time: a combo solo (with spouse) and group-tour trek down the National and State(s) Civil Rights Trail in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and a deep immersion into Jewish studies. In my pursuit of the dive into Judaism, I joined North Shore Jewish Center’s (NSJC) sixteen week Juda…
At last night's community forum, Belief and Truth from a Multifaith Perspective: Finding Unity in Diversity, many expressed a desire to continue these kinds of conversations and to take action together for building bridges in our community. These are some of the ideas that were shared for next steps:
Find something concrete that we can work on together in our communityCome out with a statement to the community about this gatheringHave clergy visit other houses of worship for teaching and conversation Invite people of other faiths or no faith traditions into our houses of worshipBring younger people into our interfaith programsAsk elected officials to talk about this kind of workIdentify root causes of hatred and address themEncourage media coverage of our programs
What other ideas do you have for next steps? Please share them in the comments.