Yesterday, I was able to give it my second shot. While I still feel unnatural reading my sermon with limited movement, people seem to really appreciate my effort. My Japanese teacher joked that because of my accent, I would be hard to fall asleep :)
The message was about death (although equally focused on life). I joked how it is odd to think about death when I turn 31 this Saturday. But, there is a lady whose mom is 92 and dying. I also just finished Billy Graham’s book “Nearing Home” about growing old. Lastly, the Cherry Blossom Viewing Parties in April remind us that life is brief, since the flowers have about a 2-week lifespan. Thus, I preached from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 on Paul’s final words of encouragement to Timothy. “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I kept the faith” is part of that passage.
One illustration I used was how our lives are similar to a marathon. Both have endings. But in the Tokyo Marathon, I knew the course. When I passed Ginza, I knew I was halfway done. When I got to Toyosu, the finish line was coming up soon. However, our lives don’t have a visible course. We don’t know if we are nearing the end or just getting started (even with the average lifespan in Japan of 80-something, that is average and some die at 50 and others live to 100). Only God knows the length of our journey.
When we get to the end, what do we want our lives to be remembered by. What is important for us to do or become? When my mom had her stroke and 3rd-degree burns over a year and a half ago, there were a few nights that we were no sure if she would make it. She was in ICU and anything was possible. As a son and a pastor, I remember thinking about what I would possibly want to say at the funeral for the message. With my mom in her 50’s, I had yet to think about her death. This was a scary but powerful moment for me. It made me rummage through the multitude of memories and draw upon the many experiences of her love and faith. I ended by challenging people to think about what they want their friends and families to say about them at the end. With that in mind, how does that impact how we know live and embrace the brief moments we have here?
To listen to my message (obviously in Japanese), you can find it here.