Summary: We are preparing for and celebrating the birth of the One whom Isaiah promises will one day rule in perfect holiness and righteousness for eternity.
FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN
Last Friday our Friday morning English class went to Chiba Prefecture to visit Pastor and Mrs. Wada. They have a nice home and they attend a home church. Pastor Wada said he is asked to preach at other churches, such as Nagarayama, Yashio, Koshigawa and Kashiwa. We had lunch at a nice Italian restaurant and after that they took us to a park overlooking the runway at Narita Airport. We were so close, I felt I could reach out and touch the 777’s.
Please pray for 2 members of this class, Mrs. Hida and Mrs. Murakami. They are very sweet and caring women, but they do not believe in Jesus Christ. In a discussion with one of them a few weeks ago, we asked her a question about God. She replied, “I’m sorry but I cannot talk about God.” It is very sad because these people will go to the shrine on New Years Day to worship their gods’ but they do not believe in the one true God. So please pray for them and several other English students who do not believe in Jesus. We are getting ready for the English School Christmas party and they will hear a message from Pastor Takao and me. So please pray that they will hear the message and come to believe in Jesus.
After coming back to Soka, we had a surprise birthday party for Nana at Graeme and Mariko’s apartment. Nana brought some cakes with her of which one was blueberry. I love blueberries so I had a piece of blueberry cake. But I ate some and it tasted funny. It didn’t taste like blueberries, but I couldn’t figure out what it tasted like. Then after another bite I realized it tasted like bananas. So I asked Nana if there were any bananas in the cake. She said she was sorry, but she forgot to tell me, there were bananas in it. I want you to know I didn’t get sick, but I’m very careful now to ask what is in a certain food before I eat it.
Did you notice Handel’s Messiah playing when you came into this chapel? I always look forward to listening to it at Christmas. I have also seen several performances of it. For example, in Dallas it is performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorale. There is a full orchestra and a 200 voice choir performing it. Also there are 4 soloists who have professional voice training. It is a very beautiful peace of music and it is about the Messiah, Jesus Christ whose birth we are going to be celebrating.
I have also enjoyed listening to our choir as they have been practicing Hallelujah. It is a difficult piece of music and you all sound wonderful. I’m looking forward to hearing you sing it at Christmas.
Some of you have heard me tell this story, but I want the rest of you to hear it. Shortly after I arrived in Soka, a choir member asked me if I would like to join the choir. I told her I was very busy with English school, the English Bible class and the English worship service and that I probably would not have time to sing in the choir. I also told her, “You do not want me in the choir.” She asked me a few times to join the choir but I simply told her I was too busy. Then she heard me sing “Sue doesn’t have any glue,” at a Christmas party and she never asked me again to join the choir.
For many of you Advent is a joyful time of year. I know that in my country it is a time to be with family. And I always enjoy all the Christmas decorations, giving and getting Christmas cards and presents. And of course it is the time of year we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But for many of you this is not a joyful time of year. Some of you might have lost family members. Eight years ago, my mother died and we held her memorial service the day before Christmas. It might be a lonely time for you, if you don’t have family. A couple of months ago, I remember 2 different days I was riding the train, and the trains were delayed. I was told it was because of an accident.
I found out later that these accidents were most likely suicides. In some of my English classes we were talking about this. I asked my students why people commit suicide. They told me people do it because of loss of job or home, problems in school and other reasons. In my country the number of suicides increases at this time of year, especially for those who are alone. Because Christmas for us is usually a time to be with family. But whatever reason people commit suicide it is usually because they are in a hopeless situation, in which there is no relief. This is sad because I do not believe there is any situation beyond God’s help.