The Yokes On You

Soo Hyun Han -- July 6, 2014


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Duration: About 24 minutes | Key Scriptures: Psalm 46,Romans 7:15-25a, Matthew 11:16-19 and 25-30


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The first time I visited First Congregational Church of Oakland in 2003, I felt a sense of coming home. The spirit of real, just, and conscious relationships in the community, with the world, and with God made my heartstrings vibrate like crazy and there was no turning back.

Some of my earliest memories of church are from South Korea, when my grandmother on my mother's side would carry me on her back and walk to the Presbyterian church – no one in that neighborhood owned a car. I still remember the smell of the wooden pews, the hymns, the "amens" and "hallelujahs" of the congregants while I sat there mollified by stale candy from my grandma's bag.

When I was a little older and in the United States, I was awakened many dawns by the almost Pentecostal, fiercely-whispered prayers of my grandmother (from my stepfather's side) which lasted an hour or longer. I knew they had something to pray about, and I was blessed to witness how these women got in their right minds by relating to a greater power.

In 1977 we immigrated to Hawaii at the age of four with my mother and stepfather, and then to California when I was five or so. Our parents struggled to make a living all my life, and I became unavoidably – and often despairingly – aware the extent to which our experiences were bound by race, class, sexuality, gender and other dominant social identities, though I didn't have the academic language for it at the time. Struggle with addiction, dysfunction and abuse in my family – and its interrelatedness to social identities – also played a significant part in shaping me.

My spiritual seeking was and is largely driven by the hunger to find healing and a true and enduring place from which to be and act in the midst of seemingly irreconcilable realities of life.

A couple of incidental details about me are that I teach fifth grade in an Oakland public school and I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.