Monthly Archives: February 2020

Preaching for Chapel


Below I will include the text of the message I was supposed to preach yesterday. That was before I got influenza but one of the senior missionary-teachers graciously canceled my preaching for yesterday because she new coming back to work this week would be a beast.

I rely on the daily lectionary for preaching for chapel at Luther High School. I populated a topical list pretty quickly after coming here but I always read the daily texts first and see if the Holy Spirit might give some Word from the written Words and so far she always has.

It takes me a while to prepare a message, even though I need to keep it to three and half minutes and I usually have to shave stuff off to make it fit. The time we are given to preach is seven minutes but we usually preach in English and it gets translated by Japanese co-teacher or a Japanese student with assistance from a Japanese teacher.

I preached in Japanese once and it took about twelve and a half hours to prepare a seven minute message. I may do it again, but for now I am glad I did it that once.

So here is the message I was going to preach that I will likely give later this year:

Text: Genesis 49:1-2, 22-26

Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 

“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel“

Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.


Title: God Will Bring the Increase

I moved to Fukushima when I was twenty-four years old. It was my second time living in Japan and I was excited to be back in Japan. My first year there, however, was very hard. I came with the hope and promise of community, but I could not find good community at first. Working in Japan was much more difficult than being a student. I felt isolated and alone. I began to lose my trust in God, and I began to get bitter.

            My first winter in Fukushima I got sick for ninety days. During that time God confronted me with my lack of trust and brought me back into fellowship with him. It was during a prayer time after that, that I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, trust me to supply for every place you feel lack. I said yes, I will trust you. Within one month I was already starting to make close friends, and everything seemed to be changing.

            We all have a time where reality does not meet our expectations. We have dreams that seem to crash to the ground. We don’t get the grade we want. We don’t seem to fit in the group of friends we had hoped to belong to. We don’t go to the college of our first choice.

            In Proverbs 13: 12 it says, hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Today we heard about a man named Joseph. When he was young, he had a dream that he would become a king and even his father and brothers would bow down to him. This dream was from God, but his brothers hated him because he said this. They plotted to kill him but instead sold him into slavery in Egypt. There Joseph was successful at first but became a prisoner through a lie someone told about him. You can read more about his story in the book of Genesis, and it’s very interesting but I will only say now that one day his dream came true. Even though he became a slave first, and then a prisoner, Joseph became a ruler in Egypt and his father and brothers bowed down to him.

            So, Joseph was a fruitful vine growing near a stream and climbing a wall. I’m telling you right now that if you live in God you will be fruitful. There are many obstacles in your life, many walls. Tough relationships, homework, sports practice, music practice, the requests from parents, tests, and entrance examinations just to name a few. Sometimes you get sick, sometimes someone you love closely gets really sick. These walls can feel like they get in the place of life but they actually are building strength in you so you can climb over the walls and into the dream God has for your life. People may attack you; they may say mean things to you or mean things behind your back, but you stand your ground because God is going to help you. God is the rock that gives you a firm place to stand and prepare your life. God is also the shepherd who guides you through the questions of life. You have a lot of things to do but only God can make you grow. The miracle of life and growth are mysteries that work by God’s power. God will bless you. He doesn’t want you to just survive but to thrive!            

We are a people who live in light of God’s promise. This promise came to Joseph and it comes to us through Jesus Christ who is the True Vine. If we live in him and let him live in us, we will have fruitful, abundant lives. We will thrive. 

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