“Do not be Afraid of Being Denied”      

It has been over six months since I have started as a chaplain at Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School.  There have been fewer opportunities to see you all from Chubu Diocese which makes me feel very sad, but let me take a moment to update you on my status.   

“Our School and Christianity,” the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School Handbook, explains about Article 1 (Purpose) of the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School regulations advocating character building based on Christianity.  It also states that the school’s purpose is to provide education based on the teachings of Christianity and is not a school to coerce Christian faith.  It seems that the work of a chaplain at Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School is not simply “leading students, as many as possible, to baptism.”  For example, in “The Value and Treasure of the Anglican Churches” written by Rev. Dr. Prof. Renta Nishihara, it says that Sei Ko Kai affiliated schools, through sharing the tradition of the Church of England, was established from the point of view of pastoral care towards all those residents living within the parish.  Schools were established not as a missionary tool to increase the number of church members, and I believe it is the same with Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School.  So, I actively convey the Rikkyo Niiza Junior and Senior High School “freedom of religious belief” to the students and their parental guardians by referring to the establishment of Rikkyo spirit, “with our purpose to provide education based on the teachings of Christianity, we are not a school to force the faith of Christianity.”   

Speaking in this way might lead to saying that I am too permissive or not doing my work.  However, that is not so.  Frank T. Griswold, former Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, stated that Anglican-related educational facilities are places to taste the truth, and students and faculty members are people who seek the truth.  These facilities must remain open at all times to search after truth.  It must not be closed.  One must not fear of being questioned or denied.   Anglican-related facilities which are models of Christianity are dangerous places in such a way.   Declaring “freedom of religion,” which is similar to saying that “even a believer of Buddhism, Shintoism, or a non-believer cherish that belief,” means Christianity itself is being tested and denied.  It is “a place of great danger.”  However, we must not be afraid.  The road is a rough one, but I believe it is a natural thing for via media (the middle way) churches and Anglican/Episcopalian educational facilities which “do not assert that they know the truth.”  On our way in searching for the truth with such students, I believe it is a natural figure in which students learn the importance of teaching of love by Jesus, and then be given by God those who will be baptized.

Revd Joseph Masatsugu Ishida
Chaplain of Rikkyo Niiza Junior & Senior High School, Rikkyo St. Paul’s Chapel

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” The Blessed Trinity may be a little unclear.  It is sometimes called the Holy Trinity within Nippon Sei Ko Kai.  The name, Kani Holy Trinity Church located in Gifu Prefecture, is derived from this.  Churches have believed in God through the development of religious principles.  The Orthodox Church of Japan officially approves of Andrei Rublyov’s icon which shows the three angels visiting Abraham (Genesis) as the only authenticated icon.  Additionally, this religious painting is in the Central Theological College and is still used during meditation.  Augustine expresses in analogy the relationship of the Holy Trinity as the Father the Speaker, the Son the Word, and the Holy Spirit as love through the speaking of the word, “The Theology of the Holy Trinity.”  While the three Persons are distinct, they work together to form unity.  This is the basic line of reasoning in the western theology.  

However, God as three in one and one in three is not the subject of understanding, but is a subject of mysterious belief.  Why this has continued to be kept is because I believe it has been “something felt from experience” rather than “something understood in the mind.”  For instance, we recite the Lord’s prayer.  This represents God of the Holy Trinity.  The Lord’s Prayer is the only prayer which Jesus taught His disciples and also the one He used to pray to God.  The prayer which Jesus the Son, gave to God the Father.  We pray with the Holy Spirit within us.  This is the importance of the Lord’s Prayer.

God loves us unconditionally and this is the basis of our world.  The Father sent us Jesus, the only child, to show us love.  And when we answer “yes” to the unconditional love of Jesus, who was sent by God, only then do we become God’s children.  The awakened Holy Spirit within us moves about actively and by becoming God’s true children, we recite the “Lord’s Prayer.” 

There are hard times and we have ordeals; however, it is the utmost joy of the Holy Spirit within us to answer “yes” when asked by Jesus, “God loves you, do you believe this?”  Isn’t it here where we are able to feel “the three in one” and “the one in three?”  And then we will be able to feel that God is always with us and we are not alone when reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Revd Joseph Masashi Ishida