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International Students

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'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;--
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title:--Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself

So what would it change really if we couldn’t call Christmas, … Christmas, anymore?  Would it be a positive thing or a negative thing?  Is it going to change the things that I do during the holiday season?  Not one bit.  And to be truthful, the things that preoccupy most of us in this country have little to do with the name that we have used for years.  Perhaps if our observance of the holiday were more in keeping with what we have called it, then the name might remain unchallenged.

Would it change our being here together tonight just as we are? 

I don’t think so.  I am very privileged to be a part of this group. 

I have loved the chance to get to know other people, other faith groups.  This year, Raj has his wife Manjusha with him and their son who attends Priestman St. school.  These are wonderful folks.  I am so impressed with their determination as a family to live in a foreign country, to pursue their education in an environment that contains so many things that are so strange to them.  I am convicted at the way that they undertake this challenge, when I so often back away from things that are too hard or too difficult.  I want to be a little more like Raj and Manjusha.  They are also gracious folks.  Manjusha works some in Tim Horton’s on Prospect St.  When I go in and she serves me, she always calls me “sir”.  I try to tell her not to do this but it is so engrained in her as a matter of culture but I suspect as well that culture and character at times overlap or intertwine and become indistinguishable.  Again I am humbled and at the same time enriched.  I have learned so much from other peoples. 

I have been involved in Tae Kwon Do for 20 years now and in the process have learned a great deal about the Korean culture.  We have a number of Korean families coming to our church.  They are a blessing to us.  I suspect that within a short period of time we will help them plant a Korean church in the city – most likely a Presbyterian church.  I think that’s cool, a Wesleyan Church planting a Presbyterian Church.  I was taught the custom of bowing by my Tae Kwon Do instructors.  I think that the significance of bowing is so much greater than the significance of shaking hands.  What a beautiful way to show respect.  The longer that you stay down, the greater respect that you demonstrate.  When you lower your eyes, you demonstrate trust.

Anyway, I am enriched by this group, better for the experience.

Steven Covey in his well-known book, “Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective People” gives us some wonderful truth for life in general.

“Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”   You talk about a great way to relate to people.  So many times we find ourselves at odds with people simply because we skip this step.  We are more interested in making a point than we are in actually hearing the heart of another person.  And you have to really listen to hear the heart.  And you have to spend time asking questions to finally hear beyond the words.

A certain man was troubled with dizzy spells. He went from one doctor to another and none could tell him what the problem was. He tried everything, it seemed. Finally, it was bothering him so much he started to lose weight, and he couldn't sleep at night. He became a nervous wreck and his health began to deteriorate. He had lost hope that he would ever recover. So he decided to prepare for the worst. He made out his will, bought a cemetery plot, and even made arrangements with the local undertaker for what he was convinced was his soon demise. He even decided to buy a new suit of clothes to be buried in. When he went into the haberdasher's he was measured for everything and picked out shoes, socks, coat, pants--and he asked for a size 15 shirt as well. The clerk said, "But, sir, you need a size 161/2 shirt, not 15." But the man insisted he wore a size 15. Finally, in exasperation the clerk said, "But if you wear a size 15 you'll get dizzy spells."

But if you are too busy trying to make a point, you never really hear.  There have been times in my life as a Pastor and as a Christ follower that I have been more interested in talking than listening.  Consequently, I have given answers to questions that people are not asking and have been ineffective in their lives.  There’s a scripture in the Bible that reminds us that God hears us.

"I have heard the cries of the people of Israel, and I have seen the way the Egyptians have made life hard for them." (Exodus 3:9, NCV) [1]

God’s answer to their cry was a Deliverer, … Moses.

I sometimes get in trouble with my infinitely patient wife because I don’t listen.  Very few men struggle with this.  But it’s hard to listen unless we put away other distractions like the newspaper or the remote control.

And the minute that I try to fix things, to give her the solution to a problem, I stop listening.  The minute I stop hearing another person, I lose and they lose.

The old owl sat on the limb of the oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard

I want to be like that wise old bird

The better I listen the better I am – it’s just a cardinal rule of life.

And then he says something else that has impacted me as well as I have sought to relate to people.

He says that people are influenced by us to the degree that they perceive we are influenced by them.  And so my prayer is that we could all understand that truth finds it’s way in an environment where people choose to love one another beyond their differences.

And for some reason, at this time of year we have this beautiful context, call it what you will, in which we try to reach out to love others and understand others, and we hear truth, even momentarily where it otherwise escapes us.


[1]  The Holy Bible : New Century Version , containing the Old and New Testaments. 1991. Dallas, TX: Word Bibles.

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