What is the Covenant Renewal Service?
언약 갱신 예배란 무엇입니까?
The Covenant Renewal service isn’t a morning prayer service or a simple public gathering or event. It’s a prophetic enaction of 1 John 2:17:
“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
The things that seem like permanent fixtures of our daily life–freeway overpasses, cars, commutes—are already passing away, despite their appearance of permanence. And the things that seem like they’ve already passed away—the words and ministries of the early Korean Christians—actually endure forever. And they endure forever not as exhibits in a museum, but as God’s continuing gift to the Korean church—the materials he is using to continue to carry out his work in Korea, whether we are aware of it or not.
This is the purpose of the Covenant Renewal service: To ensure that the voices of the early Korean Christian martyrs are heard daily in a way that shapes our daily conversations, restores true Korean Christianity, renews the church, and changes our world.
Why feature the words of the early Korean Christians?
왜 하필 초기 한국 기독교인들의 설교입니까?
The early Korean Christians knew that death to self and death to the world are at the heart of Christianity. Whether it be at the hands of the Japanese or their own countrymen, the early Korean Christians experienced persecution and suffering regularly. Their words are saturated with a Godly wisdom that can only be treasured by a heart shaped by suffering love. As their spiritual descendants, we carry forward the will of God when we listen to them and pick up the cross from where they left off.
What happens during a Covenant Renewal Service?
언약 갱신 예배를 통해 어떤 일들이 일어나나요?
First, we remember the covenant with the Lord that was made at our baptism. It is a covenant to die daily to ourselves and to the world. We are to live each day of our Christian life as martyrs—witnesses to the love and faithfulness of God. We are to use our bodies, not just our money or our prayers, as our primary tool for sharing the Lord’s suffering love in our sphere of influence.
Second, in the Covenant Renewal service we hear the scripture and a sermon from one of the early Korean Christian martyrs. No introduction or commentary or historical notes are provided. In this way, we do not encounter the voice of the martyr as a historical curiosity but instead as a living word, used by God to re-shape what we are facing today.
Finally, we take the Lord’s Supper together, remembering that our primary identity is as a member of the body of Christ in the one holy, Catholic, and apostolic church. The martyrs are present with us at the Lord’s table. They are not dead and gone. Daily we renew our covenant to be one body with them in Christ. This means that we are accountable not only to ourselves and the Lord and our local church, but to them as well. The Korean church does not belong to us. We belong to it. It is not ours to define or change to suit our times or tastes. We are accountable to all the Korean Christians who have gone before us, and to those who will follow us. Most particularly, we are accountable to the early Korean Christian martyrs to faithfully receive and pass on to others what they faithfully received and passed on to us.
Why meet beneath the overpass?
왜 하필 고가도로 아래에서 모이나요?
People may find it surprising that we do all of this under an underpass in Jeongneung at 6AM, but there’s a very important reason why. The location is where the great early Korean Christian teacher Kim Kyo Shin cried out every morning for his beloved Korea. At that time the space was a broad, flat rock, surrounded by towering sheer vertical faces of rock, fed by a waterfall and graced by a pure mountain stream. Kim Kyo Shin would pray there every morning, through the snow, the rain, the cold temperatures, and the marvelous thaw of spring.
Today the area is far less scenic—a monument to Korea’s economic might and its restless culture, on the move every hour. Cars roar overhead, buses and trucks rumble past ceaselessly, day and night. It would appear that Kim Kyo Shin’s prayers have been silenced, his cry for Korea denied, his vision ground to nothing beneath that soaring concrete edifice.
But appearances can be deceiving. The Bible tells us that that overpass is far less permanent than we can imagine, and that Kim Kyo Shin’s voice—and the voice of all the Korean martyrs, and all the Christian martyrs around the world—will endure forever. God will make sure of it.