Empty Cups

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“Those who celebrate his birth know that this life is not the end of the story. Today, when we open this gift of grace, we are embraced by an eternal mystery. We open a gift of hope that breathes life into us, whispering that death is not the end…. Christ came so that we could fill the empty cup of sorrow with the wine of community and creativity.”

Makoto Fujimura

Christmas is the story of grace.

Grace has existed from the beginning of humankind and will continue to the end of history. Grace is epitomized by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. He centers the story of grace.

Makoto Fujimura in his book, Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture, writes of grace embracing us, breathing into us and inviting us to fill the empty cups. Grace is experiential and Jesus invites us into the experience.Continue reading “Empty Cups”

Road

The Long and Lonely Road

It is just 3 days to the new year but about a month and a half ago, my friend Ramesh had gone ahead to ask over dinner, “How has 2012 been for you”? I told him the year has carried much purpose and meaning with the genesis of a community in Tokyo and the establishing of a home for abandoned children in Johannesburg. These emerging journeys had not begun without a missional vision, pleading prayers, painful disappointments, unceasing hard work, generous giving, miraculous interventions and overwhelming gratitude. These experiences are not my alone but of those who have congregationally or communally, participated with us.

However, on a more personal note, loneliness had surfaced its ugly head more often in 2012 and seemed to dwarf all the challenges of this concluding year. While we are not socially lonely, Chui and I do feel the loneliness that comes from leading. Gratefully, we have discovered an antidote to such feelings, and it is the realization that loneliness is inescapable for leaders. Our South African friends, Ryan and Gerda, had popped the question to us, “Do you feel lonely?” They inquired because they identified with us, sharing stories from their own leadership journey. They related that for progression, at times a leader has to travel alone.Continue reading “Road”

Shinjuku

I have grown to like Shinjuku. It is one of 23 wards in Tokyo. However, it does not seem befitting to describe it as a ward when on its own Shinjuku carries the presence, energy and features of a big city. If Shinjuku is just one of the many wards, then Tokyo must be massive! My fondness of Shinjuku has been derived from a concoction of recent memories and reflections. So, here are a few that come to mind…

Jellies and Doughnuts

In our work trips, my colleagues and I usually reside at Citadines (if it isn’t fully booked), a small hotel, whose rates are reasonable in expensive Tokyo and is located in a quieter part of Shinjuku. And for those who take pride with Singapore brands, Citadines is owned by a company from the little red dot. The hotel has the availability of a convenience store adjacent to it. This is not uncommon since convenience stores like Seven-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson are into the tens of thousands across the land of the rising sun. They are a traveler’s constant companions. It is almost a ritual for me to visit this next door store in the evening to buy at least one cup of fruit jelly since consuming these gelatins is my way to end the day. These jelly cups are not only embedded with generous amount of fruit, they are refreshingly delicious without emitting the taste of preserved fruits.Continue reading “Shinjuku”