This morning was our last church service before heading off to Japan. As the service begins next Sunday morning we’ll be taking off from the Vancouver airport and flying out over the Pacific Ocean.
This is Family Day weekend in Alberta so the focus of this morning’s service was on being part of the family of God and more specifically, on being part of the local church family. For us, this is particularly meaningful. We’ve attended the Sedgewick Church of the Nazarene for approximately 30 years. These people have been there for us through good times and bad; through times of great joy and times of loss. Living some distance from our own families as we always have, the church really has been our family. Even our children live away from home now; one in Vancouver, one in Calgary and one in Edmonton. We’re used to saying good bye to them, though not usually for this long. The church is our everyday family, the people who are involved in our day to day lives. While we’re excited about going, saying good bye to them is not easy!
A couple of women in our church are known for their fabulous cinnamon buns. After Sunday School this morning and before the church service began, the congregation gathered over coffee and cinnamon buns to wish us farewell. The Sunday School superintendent said a few words pointing out that almost everyone there had been taught by one or the other of us. I had never thought of it that way before but I’ve been teaching a young children’s Sunday School class for the past twenty-one and a half years and the adult class has grown and flourished under Richard’s leadership for many of those years. In our church, it’s often jokingly said that when you take on a job you have it for life! We aren’t indispensable, however, and have passed on the torches that we’ve carried over the years to other very capable hands.
We don’t know what God has in mind for us during our year in Japan but we do know that we’ll have a faithful church family back here at home praying for us and awaiting our return. A whole host of them surrounded us during the service as our pastor prayed for us. We also know that finding the opportunity to worship or fellowship with other believers while we’re in Japan may be difficult. It is my understanding that less than 2% of Japan’s population is Christian so the likelihood of finding a church to attend, especially one with services in English, is not very good. We have a very big God, however, and as far as we may stray from home, we’ll never be separated from him or his love.