Pastor Tim’s last service at Union

A friend used Facebook Live to record my last service: music, prayers, sermon, etc. It was a beautiful last day at Union Church and I’ll post here on where we land in 2019!

Posted by Allie Gisel Sotelo on Sunday, January 27, 2019

Farewell to Union Church

After a challenge from Tim Keller in 2010 to serve urban centers, I have enjoyed leading and serving Union Church in downtown Los Angeles. This Sunday is my last worship service at Union and we’re going to have a special time reflecting on what God has accomplished and the continued assurance that His light will shine in and through God’s people to the neighborhoods in which we live. Join us if you’re in town!

Henri Nouwen on being the Beloved of God

Henri Nouwen preached some incredible sermons at the former Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California back in the 1990’s. He shares some incredible insights on what makes us human, the meaning of life, and the ministry of Jesus.

Nouwen entices us to consider that we are more loved than we could ever imagine and that the Father is waiting for us to relax into his welcoming arms of love. When we embrace our identity as the Beloved of God, then we find our true selves and can authentically be the person we are meant to be. He warns us against valuing ourselves based on what we do, what we have or what people say about us.

Check out the videos here.



How the rich and powerful display their wealth at death

Bloomberg reported recently, “For many of the rich and powerful, funerals are becoming the final opportunity to flaunt immense wealth, competing with weddings and birthdays as a rite of passage worthy of a small fortune. They’re choosing to be laid to rest in $60,000 gold-plated coffins and ferried by horse-drawn funeral carriages or Rolls-Royce hearses. Some are even flying friends and relatives to exotic locales for destination funerals…“It’s become one last display of power and wealth.” Businessmen and billionaires are often aggressively competitive in life “and that doesn’t end when they think they’re going to die,”…Some are being serenaded by gospel choirs in great halls, amid a sea of their favorite flowers flown in by private jet. Others are flying loved ones abroad to watch as their body is pushed out to sea like Viking warriors and the boat set ablaze…Custom-made Rolls-Royce Phantom VII hearses and a fleet of 25 matching Rolls-Royce sedans owned by the U.K.-based A.W. Lymn funeral home are sought-after internationally…They “want to make a statement: Ride it in life, ride it in death.”…A crypt beneath New York’s Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is available…It’s one of the last full-body burial spots in Manhattan and can hold nine caskets and 10 cremated remains…Three prominent families have already expressed interest… you can spend eternity in a gold-plated casket in the catacombs below a 200-year-old church could just be the zenith of a life well lived… for just $7 million.”  

You don’t have to be super-rich to have your treasures in the wrong place. You can have $20 in the bank and still have your focus on the wrong treasures.

In Matthew 6:20 Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (NIV)

Jesus actually wants us to be wealthy—not on earth, but in heaven! His prayer for us is that the Father’s kingdom would come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. To have a heavenly mindset regarding our possessions does not make us impractical or disconnected from reality but actually very connected to our life right now. Focusing on heavenly riches empowers us to trust God with our resources while on earth: feeding hungry people, running our businesses with integrity, caring for the environment as an act of worship and leading people to our Savior. Jesus wants us to have heavenly riches of people saved, people loved, people redeemed. So we hold onto our possessions lightly realizing that we can’t take it with us and instead invest them now smartly so that we will reap rewards that will never fade or waste away.

My full remarks on Yuli Gurriel and the MLB

I joined several others Asian American leaders to denounce the racist gestures and remarks made and an appeal to Yuli, the MLB and our nation to move toward healing and reconciliation. See the coverage from ABC7 here and my statement below:

November 1, 2017
My name is Rev. Tim Yee. I’m a Chinese-American pastor of the 100-old-year Union Church of Los Angeles, the oldest protestant church in downtown Los Angeles and one of the oldest churches in America started by people of Japanese descent.

We in the Asian American community are not “cry babies” or “sore losers” as some in social media would like to portray us regarding the Yuli Gurriel incident. We know that as Asian Americans we have often been far too silent on the racism endured in all the great cities of our nation. So we join together and are speaking today to invite Yuli, Major League Baseball and all Americans to help us move forward in our divided time.

This is a picture of my church member Hagi Kusunoki. Hagi and her late husband George were treated as enemies of the United States during WWII. Hagi is holding a bronze medal awarded posthumously to her husband for his brave service in the 442nd Battalion, rescuing 211 Texas Battalion American soldiers who were surrounded by Nazis and doomed to die. These Japanese Americans suffered over 800 casualties themselves while being outnumbered 4 to 1 by the Nazis in order to save these Texans. Hagi and George made incredible sacrifices for their country so that we would always remember the pain and injustice that racism can lead to.

So when 40,000 fans give a standing ovation to Yuli after being cleared to continue playing in the World Series, I think that Hagi’s story has been forgotten. For why would any good American cheer the overlooking of blatant racism against Asians when great Americans like Hagi and George have sacrificed so much so that our country could be united? It must be that good Americans in Texas, California and our whole nation have simply forgotten how much we have already suffered because of turning a blind eye to racism.

Win or lose tonight, we are asking Yuli Gurriel to help the Asian American community and our whole country to move forward by accepting our invitation to meet with us and learn more about the Asian experience in America. We are not saying Yuli is a bad person and in fact we believe he has an incredible opportunity to take something very bad and have something very good come out of it. In fact, I’d love to lead a standing ovation for Yuli Gurriel, not for sweeping racism under the rug, but for helping the Asian American community heal from this pivotal moment.

No matter who wins or loses tonight, the American people—and 40 million people who will be watching tonight—will be “losers” if we don’t move toward better racial understanding and ultimately reconciliation.

We want Yuli to help all of America to remember that we are better than this. This is bigger than baseball. This is our country. The future of our nation will not be decided by a seven game series but by the way day-in and day-out average Americans treat each other with respect and dignity. We can do better and we must do better if we are to live up to the values that our great nation aspires to uphold. Thank you.

Rev. Tim Yee

Life for Leaders: Daily devotional resource

last supper stained glass

I’m a new guest contributor to this fantastic resource called Life for Leaders. You can sign up for this daily devotional and be encouraged by a team of incredible leaders including Dr. Mark Roberts and Uli Chi.

As we head into this lenten season I hope you will find my first attempt to write for a broader audience meaningful and helpful for your daily leadership challenges. Tim

A Liturgy for victims of violence

(Adapted from Rick Morley’s 2013 Paris Peac sign“A Garden Path” written after the Boston Marathon tragedy)

One: I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Lord Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace and the Great Physician, and it is to you that we pray.

One:  We pray, O Lord, for those who were so tragically killed in the horrific attacks in Paris. We pray for all who love them, and all who grieve. We pray that they might find strength in you, and not be overwhelmed by their loss.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray, for those who were injured. Those who lost limbs. Those who are in great pain. Those who lives will forever be changed.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray, for those who witnessed horrible sights, for innocent bystanders, for the first responders, police, nurses, doctors, and all who are shaken to the core.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for those who are caring for the injured at this hour, that through them you would offer healing and life.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for the men and women of law enforcement who have long and difficult days ahead of them.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for the clergy and lay ministers who will tend to the needs of people in fear and grief.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for all people here and around the world, who live under the threat of terror.

All: Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

One: We pray for all who are called to keep us safe. We pray that they might have wisdom and strength to work for justice do the tasks that are entrusted for them to do. 

All: Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Officiant: And, we pray for the day when evil takes its last gasp. When the light finally, and thoroughly, snuffs out the darkness in this world, and the darkness which infects the hearts of people who do unspeakable wrong.  Till, its full completion, we will wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.  Amen.

November 2014 Adapted by Michael Stafford from Rick Morley’s “A Garden Path” written after the Boston Marathon bombing