Bible Society of South Africa
Hennie Symington

Change, Advent and Christmas – Day 1

An outward journey to the inner reaches of the soul

Bible text(s)

24But I reckon my own life to be worth nothing to me; I only want to complete my mission and finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do, which is to declare the Good News about the grace of God.

Acts 20:24GNBOpen in Bible reader

Accepting a pastoral position in Japan was perhaps not that difficult. Tokyo is a truly beautiful city and Japanese society is an extremely ordered society where everyone respects one another and an almost exaggerated etiquette is observed.

Tokyo Union Church where we served was established more than 140 years ago, in more or less a Lutheran/Reformed/Presbyterian tradition. Members are from all corners of the globe, but mostly from the USA, Australia, Europe, Korea and, increasingly, from South Africa. What impressed us in the short while that we were there, was the devotion and dedication of the loyal members to the church. However, that still does not explain why these two “golden oldies” ventured so far from home. Firstly, despite our relative “elderliness”, we have not given up our sense of adventure. (In this, Paul was a real inspiration. At least we could fly to Japan in relative comfort, while poor old Paul constantly found himself in peril on land and sea!) The amazing thing is that a journey in unchartered waters often takes you on an inner journey – a journey of the soul where you discover new insights, not only about yourself, but also about what you believe and how you believe. It allows you to rediscover your faith beyond the clichés and time honoured traditions, as the one faith which goes beyond tradition and culture to embrace all of mankind. There is no need to burn incense or to seek your fortune in a temple, or toss your coins in a fountain hoping to win the favour of the gods.

You are free. Free to love, because God loved you first and free to forgive, because Christ has forgiven you and made you his. The greatest challenge, however, was to preach the uniqueness of the Christian faith and forgiveness of sins in a society, which, on the surface, appears to be almost sinless. Thank God for being with us during this wonderful venture.

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