Dr. Christine J. Hong
Just as Christ’s genealogy reveals the relationships across time and space in his life, many of our names also tie us to the generations who come before us and those who will come after us. Matthew lists the names of Jesus’ forebears as a marker of hope finally realized. Even today, names are the seeded hope of one generation planted in another. They are the thread that connects our histories, stories, and futures. We are the hopes of those who’ve come before, and we live in hope for those who will come after us.
In the Korean tradition, male babies are named by the oldest patriarch on the father’s side of a family. My paternal grandfather died before I was born, so it was my maternal grandfather who built my name. Even before I was born, he declared he would build a meaningful name for me (even though I was not a boy).I would receive a name with intention from the oldest living generation to the newest. He gave me the name Jin, which when paired with my surname, becomes Hong Jin, meaning “something precious in the wide expanse.” When I was born, he was not sure when he would get to meet his granddaughter with the vast ocean separating South Korea from California. In those days, it was not so easy or affordable to fly internationally. The name represented the connection he felt to me and my parents, despite what felt like an insurmountable distance between us. What is the Spirit of God if not the hope against hope in our lives?
My grandfather knew about hope against hope; he died at 101 years old, a survivor of war and displacement, excruciating trauma and loss. Yet, I knew him as a loving human with a joyful disposition, a spiritual and humble man, my biggest fan, the person who left me the gift of my name—connecting me through that name to the hope he bore through so much tragedy. Three years ago, I passed the gift of the name Jin to my daughter, Tae-Jin, giving her the part of the name my grandfather built for me. Her name means “precious light.” Through her name, she is connected to her great-grandfather,to his stories,his hopes,his spiritual presence.As she grows, she will become part of a larger story by weaving in her own stories as seeds of hope against hope for someone new.
A Letter from the Christian Formation Staff at First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte:
This year’s Advent devotional is produced by Sanctified Art. Sanctified Art is a group of artists and ministers who create liturgical resources for churches and congregations. At first, this group’s work focused on equipping people to increase the use of creativity in spiritual practices. As they found great success, their vision and mission grew quickly.
Now, their work includes resources for churches and congregations to use in worship, small groups, liturgical seasons, and personal spiritual practices. This group of talented people have quickly become a popular source of new materials for church leaders and ministers.
We are excited to be introducing the 2022 Sanctified Art Advent devotional. We hope this daily devotional will enrich our time in Advent. Some of the devotional styles and practices will be new. We encourage you to try them all. You may discover a new way to speak to God. a different form of prayer, or ideas on how to recognize Christ among us. ‘
As we wait with hope for the incarnation, we invite you to take time to engage with God’s word each day and celebrate this season as a congregation with his Advent devotional,
The Christian Formation Staff
First Presbyterian Church