I had the great honor to not only preach for our Easter service, which is a first, but also to challenge myself to preach for the first time in Japanese. After giving 3-minute speeches in class all the time, I knew I was capable of speaking something, even if it is not sophisticated Japanese. Yet, the amount of work that went into writing an entire message was quite overwhelming. With the dedicated help of my Japanese teacher, I was able to deliver something that was good Japanese but still had my voice and level of speech.
I chose to keep the rough draft as a reminder of how far I have come. After doing my study of Matthew 11:28-30, I came up with an outline and then wrote completely in Japanese, with the great help of my dictionary. It seemed every other sentence would require looking up new words. However, it was with my teacher going line by line that we corrected nearly every sentence. Dictionaries are great but can mislead me in how phrases are actually spoken. I was so thankful that he took so much time to help me select which words are more natural in certain contexts. If this was a paper for college, the amount of red ink would have probably made me cry, but here was a moment that I was extremely grateful to be ripped apart only to help piece together something much better.
I am extremely humbled by how God has allowed me to get to this point. I always joke how in 20+ years of school, the only times I received a “C” was in foreign languages (French, Greek). Yet, I have now been able to preach in three languages (English, French, and Japanese).
For my message based on Matthew 11:28-30, my idea was “Because of Jesus, we can unload our burdens.” I shared how we all carry certain burden or worries with us. People handle them in different ways, such as taking them on alone, relying on friends or families, or plunging into work or studies. Each are good but limited from caring for everything in our lives. This then points to Jesus who invites us to come to him to find rest. We can exchange our anxieties for his teaching as we follow. I then link to the great exchange that Jesus offers, by pointing to the cross and what he accomplished on our behalf. In the end, I asked them to write their burdens down on a piece of paper and bring them to the front underneath the cross to symbolize unloading them to Jesus.
It ended up being one of our largest services, since we invited four friends. I am grateful to the opportunity and hope my Japanese continues to improve to the point that I won’t need as much time preparing or correction. Yet, I am also glad that the busy Easter is complete and I can rest a little bit 🙂
I will try to get the recording of the message and post a link to listen or download it. I’ll keep you posted on this. You can listen to the sermon (without English translation) here: http://soundcloud.com/grant-buchholtz/grant-japanese-sermon.