Friday, February 26, 2016

"Searching for Sunday" Lenten Devotional Series: GRACE ("megumi" - grace in Japanese)

Friday, February 26

GRACE  ("megumi" - grace in Japanese)

When I received the confirmation to teach at a teacher-training college in Japan I began an in-depth-study of the religions of that country as well as the role of the Church among the Japanese people.  Most pledge themselves to Shinto, the way of the gods, and to Buddhism.  

My first experience with the community church was on a Sunday morning about four weeks after arriving at the college.  I was apprehensive and my heart was vibrating more rapidly.  How would I be received as I knew few words in Japanese?  Would my bow be appropriate? Would they overlook my foreign face?  I arrived at the small church building and stepped into the entrance to see shoes everywhere.  I was then greeted by a gracious lady with a very deep bow.  I saw in her eyes the reflection of her thoughts: "How do I greet her as she has the face of a stranger (foreigner)?  "Why is she here?"  Her Japanese was quick but I felt acceptance as I bowed and used the greetings I had learned.  Soon the service began and I felt totally and utterly alone.  As the service progressed two senior ladies moved to sit with me and to share the hymnal which I could not read. The message dealt with "grace" Suddenly, I felt grace flowing between us and binding me to them.  I was alone but not really as I had found a Sunday home filled with God's grace.  I was experiencing the binding force of salvation's eternal grace.  As long as I attended there they loved me with that "Amazing Grace." Through them I learned I needed a Bible and a hymnal for the services.  They taught me about their traditions, their customs, and forgave my horrible mistakes in Japanese.  They even asked me to pray and to speak during some of their services.

Some Sunday mornings when I enter the doors of Trinity I have an overwhelming desire to leave my shoes at the door, place my feet in slippers, enter the sanctuary with my Bible and hymnal and hear "megumi" once again.  Grace was shared with me in a Japanese country church and now it is shared with me at Trinity.  It is the binding link among God's people around the word.

            By Grace we are saved!
            By Grace we are accepted!
            By Grace we are loved!     
  Julia Williams

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