“I’ll Come Again!”

Together with the work of church, there is also work at the kindergarten.  “Good morning!,”

“Long time no see, dad,” and “Thank you mom for coming to pick up your child up,” are scenes of children when arriving and leaving from the kindergarten.  We enjoy the chatting with family members and do our best to be at the gate as often as possible.  Among them are families who come to pick up their children a little late.  These are within ten minutes, and children call this a “chat time with the principal!” and it has become the usual pattern for the two of us to sit on the bench and chat.  The topic of the chat is based on what we like; one day will be on the kind of animals; another day will be on food, TV programs or movies, and so on.  Then we expand on our conversation from there.

Then one day, the child said to me, “I’m so anxious.”  And said the same thing for consecutive days.  So, I asked the child, “Why are you anxious?” and the child answered, “Because mom is coming to pick me up soon.”  The child feels this way because the child believes the mother is coming no matter how late it will be.  Even if the child has to wait by oneself, I feel the reason the child can keep waiting with a smile is because one believes the mother will come.  It has become standard and widespread that people have mobile phones and smartphones.  Even if we are meeting, it is now a time where we do not have to be definite about the meeting place and time.  It was never this way before.  We needed to check the meeting place and time beforehand, and if we still could not meet up, we either gave up or there was a message board at the station.  The content of the messages on these boards were often funny.  It also said that these messages would be erased as time passes.  In this way, just taking the case of meeting up shows a drastic change with the times.  However, the only change is just the way of meeting up, and the feeling of wanting to meet probably has not changed with the times.    

There is a season of waiting within the church year as well.  Not only Christmas, but Easter also awaits Jesus to come.  And we continue to wait for Jesus to come to this world again.  With what kind of feeling do we wait?  I wonder if we would be waiting anxiously just like this boy, or somehow just waiting?  When I was in elementary school, I remember being nervous and restless at home alone because my parents would come home late.  As I got older and in cases where I had to stay home alone, there were times when I would go to sleep early thinking that my parents would be home soon or at least in the morning.  I would fall asleep trying to escape from anxiety.  I feel that this child has taught me once again the joy of waiting.  I was also taught to believe in being able to meet.

Then, the child waves one’s hand when leaving and say, “See you” and would hop into the car with mom.  Believing we would see each other again tomorrow morning, I wave back saying “Come again.”  I cannot help smiling.  I would like to be a person, who is able to say “Come again” to Jesus and continue to wait anxiously.

Revd. Francis Kazuaki Enatsu
Ueda St. Michael and All Angels’ Church

The Chapel Left Behind

In Spring 2019, as I was tidying up the office soon after I started working at the church in Gifu, I found in a manila envelope the Consecration of the Chapel Certificate dated October 18, 1908 for Gifu Sei Ko Kai signed by Bishop John Mckim and a one-page, B4-sized Order of Transfer by the Governor of Gifu Prefecture dated April 25, 1945.  

The Order of Transfer, based on the air defense law, ordered the four church buildings be transferred to Gifu Prefecture within 10 days by May 5, 1945.  As I was pondering this might be a valuable document, I coincidentally received a phone call from a citizens’ group, “Gifu Air Raids Historical Record Group.”  There were planning an exhibition of peace records hosted by the city of Gifu and were looking for exhibits from the time of the air raid.

The Gifu Air Raid was on July 9, 1945 shortly after 11pm.  More than 10,000 bombs were dropped on the city of Gifu by the U.S. military, and it killed approximately 900 people.  Around this time every July, Gifu holds an air-raid related exhibition.  It seems that the situations of shrines, temples, and churches at the time of the air raid have been chosen to be depicted as a special feature that same year.      

When I spoke about the Order of Transfer, they soon came to the church to have a look at it.  It was decided to display a copy of the document, and the information was relayed to various quarters.  A university researcher knowledgeable about the air defense law, which is the legal basis of the order, had contacted and told me that this was something unprecedented and valuable nationwide.  Gifu Newspaper reporters came for an interview, and the news was filled on the front page and in the city news page of Gifu Newspaper.  

It was an order of eviction to demolish the building to create fire-fighting facilities to prevent the spread of fire in the city by the air raid.  As a result, Reverend Shigeji Ogasawara (he later became the diocesan bishop), who was doing pastoral care at that time, evacuated to Mino-Ota of Gifu Prefecture, and services were held in homes of church people within Gifu City. 

Fire-fighting facilities were not something that could prevent the spread of fire during the actual Gifu air raid.  The current chapel of Gifu St. Paul’s Church is a post-war relocation of the chapel of Ogaki St. Peter’s Church, which had existed since the pre-war era.

The once chapel which had been consecrated by Bishop McKim, being built through the prayers and services of the people.  Many had listened to the Word.  The children of church-affiliated Gifu Myodo Kindergarten sang the hymns lively.  The chapel where the students of Gifu Sei Ko Kai School for the Blind, also a church operation, prayed must have been engraved with precious memories along with stories of each one who had gathered there.  However, this order of eviction destroyed these memories as if repainting them all.    

Lord Jesus calls each of our names and listens to our unique stories, just as shepherds call and take out their sheep.  Such works of Jesus are of total opposite from the Order of Transfer, a one-sided deprivation from above.

There may be times when we talk about our missionary work as if looking at people’s movement from beyond the clouds.  However, I feel we should rather listen to each one’s story standing on the ground.

Deacon John Taro Aihara
Gifu St. Paul’s Church

To All of the Diocese of Chubu

I would like to thank you all for your prayers and cooperation during the Consecration and Installation held on October 24th.  It was postponed twice due to the spread of the new coronavirus disease, but through the hard work and preparation by the people of the Province and dioceses, it has been successfully completed.  On the day, the Archbishop of Japan’s main Christian religious sect and chairpersons also attended, and we received many congratulatory messages from all over the world.  I was able to realize once again that we, the Diocese of Chubu, are supported by, not only the Anglican Church in Japan, but also by the Anglican Communion, and the ecumenical connection that transcend denominations.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Bishop Ichiro Shibusawa, who has guided our diocese for 10 years, and to Bishop Osamu Irie, who has managed the Diocese of Chubu, which was within the feeling of anxiety for the last 7 months.  In addition, although I will continue to work at Rikkyo University for the time being, and with the support of ministers and congregations of the Diocese of Chubu, including Reverend Hirozumi Doi being appointed as the Archdeacon, I will do my best to take on this position as bishop.  I would appreciate your continued kind support.

On a personal note, my youngest son was born by Caesarean section in a hospital in Okaya.  However, he was not breathing at birth and was in a state of severe asphyxia.  Immediately treatments in ICU were started, and the doctor showed me an MRI of the brain but it was pure white.  The doctor had told me that no primary treatment could be conducted and only secondary treatment would be possible. 

The Gospel for the Sunday after my son was born was a scene where Peter and others who were fishing were called by Jesus as disciples.  When I was meditating on the gospel, I was made aware about one thing.  “What kind of a net does a fisher have to catch people?” “The net of a fisher of men” is spun with the thread of God’s love, and no one spills out of that net. Even if my son must go on carrying various burdens from now on, he will be firmly supported in the net of love and will never spill out of it.

Maybe Jesus was telling his disciples and us to become fishers with such a “net.”  And when the resurrected Jesus told Peter and the others to go fish, perhaps it was to confirm whether the disciples had become of persons who were able to possess that “net.”  In fact, the net was full of 153 large fish, but it had not been broken even though they had fished so much.  Lord Jesus ascended to heaven after confirming all his disciples had become fishermen with a net of love that would never spill out.  I was given this conscious awareness.

In this sense, to live according to the Lord, that is, to love God and to be a person who loves people, is to be fishers of men.  “Be the one with a net which no one spills out.”  That is the teaching of the Lord.  Stretching this net to the fullest is essentially the sign of being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

You are all also “fishers of men” called by the Lord.  A fisher with a net spun with the thread of God’s love and trust.  You hold the well-spun net which no one spills out.  Let us pray and work together so that each one of us will be able to connect each net to finally become the “Diocese of Chubu,” a “network” of God’s love.

The Rt Revd Francis of Assisi Renta Nishihara

The Bad Priest

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31 “The Good Samaritan”)

In July, as I was just about to enter the intersection with my car, a sight came into my view.  In the middle of the intersection on the right, there was a car rolled over with its windshield and roof facing toward my car.  The accident had just happened, and many people waiting for the green light were taking pictures on their mobile phones.  The police had not yet arrived, and traffic also had not been controlled, but there was no sign of people in the car involved in the accident.  It seemed that they had already evacuated somewhere.  May cars were slowing down as they passed; and the car in front of me, as it was passing the vehicle involved in the accident, made a strange motion.  It hit its brakes suddenly, and further slowed down its speed, and passed the car with its hazard lights on.  Immediately afterwards, it seemed for a moment that it was going towards the shoulder of the road, but the car went back to the center of the road and drove off. 

I was frightened by the inexplicable action of the car in front of me, and though feeling anxious, slowed down my car as I passed the car involved in the accident.  As I got a glance at the accident vehicle, I was startled to find out the reason behind that inexplicable action.  Only the two inflated airbags came into sight, but they were moving.  “People are still inside!!”  At that moment I thought, “I need to help them!” and stepped on my brakes.  I slowed down my car for a couple of meters to pull my car aside.  However, my thought had changed within these few seconds.  “It will cause a major traffic congestion.  There’s nothing I can do alone.  The police will be here any minute, and they’ll safely rescue the people.”  So, I got back to the center of the road lane and continued to drive.  I told myself, “I have an interment ceremony to go to, and I can’t be late for it.”   

In the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” it tells each one of us to “go and do likewise (*as the Good Samaritan).” (Luke 10:37, (*added by the writer)) However, the reality of us who are told to be good Samaritans, does not go as hoped.  Rather, isn’t our reality the repetition of the passers-by such as the priests and the Levite passing by on the other side of the victims?  I am a priest the same as the priest who had “passed by on the other side.”  I thought as I looked at myself, “Did the priest and the Levite who had passed by on the other side regret just like myself?  Did they convince themselves with excuses?”

“The important thing is not becoming a good Samaritan from scratch, but by regretting and repenting from the negatives as priests and Levites to be transformed into a good Samaritan.  That is the incarnation of the Word rooted in our reality.”  To be reborn from regret.  Were the priest and the Levite, who had passed by on the other side of the road, able to change?  Isn’t it the great hope for us as sinners to believe in that change?

Revd Joseph Daisuke Shimohara
Nagoya St. Matthew’s Church

By the Hokushin-Gogaku (Northern Nagano Five Mountains)

Two years have passed since I was assigned to Nagano Prefecture.  Obuse Town, where New Life Hospital is located, is a mountain village surrounded by flowers.  From the hospital, one can see the mountains called “Hokushin-Gogaku” by the local people.  Mt. Iizuna, Mt. Togakushi, Mt. Kurohime, Mt. Myoko, and Mt. Madarao.  Each one is beautiful and unique in its own.     

A mountain that stands proudly.  The colors of green change with the season, but one is fascinated by its unchanging stability.  The mountains seem to me as if they are disciples of Jesus; they look like our seniors who have had their lives changed by the resurrection of Jesus, and having built a secure foundation of life, started walking the path of faith.

I am working as a hospital chaplain at the foot of these mountains.  I am happy to have been given the role “to spend time with patients and their families who are facing and battling with illness.”  On the other hand, I come to realize that I am only looking at my own steps when I am busy.  

When going home after the Evening Service, along with the feeling of relief that “I was able to finish the day off,” I remember the people that I met in the hospital ward and the people I saw off.  There are many times where I go home with my head full thinking back on the words that were communicated and the times spent together.  “Was that the right decision?”  “Let me say this kind of greeting.”  “What should I do tomorrow?”     

However, beyond my thoughts, there is an extensive view of the mountains within the vast sunset.  I hear the birds singing, and when looking up, the mountains come out from within the clouds and looking down from the view afar.  Silent and peaceful.  The figure of the mountains within each place relaxes my feelings. 

Miss Powell, a Canadian missionary who was the head nurse at Obuse Sanatorium (the forerunner of New Life Hospital), is said to have had a liking for the Psalms which starts with “I lift up my eyes to the mountains.” (Psalms 121:1)  When I think Miss Powell had also been looking at the same view, I remember the timeless familiarity of her who had devoted her life in caring for patients right here at this place.     

As services restarted in June, I am feeling the joy being able to again pray with the lay.

I have also been given strength from those who participate in the Evening Mass.  I always long for the security like that of “Hokushin Gogaku.”  I will never come close to it, but in reality, I am always guided by the presence of security, and the many people such as brothers and sisters at church, staff members, volunteers, patients, and their families.          

Even today, there are people who are waiting to welcome me with many different facial expressions.   Smiling, happy, painful, sad, angry, and lonely.  The certainty of living comes from living each day to the fullest with such people. 

The outbreak of infectious disease and large-scale natural disasters are currently engulfing people all over the world with fear and anxiety.  However, let us lift up our eyes and believe that “my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:2) and continue walking holding hands with all of you.

Deacon John the Baptist Takaaki Yamato

Being Appointed as Bishop in Charge

To all the people of the Diocese of Chubu, I have been asked to be in charge of the Diocese of Chubu for the next half a year until October.  I am grateful for your cooperation.

Reverend Nishihara was elected at the Chubu Diocesan Synod last November, and along with everyone in the Diocese of Chubu, I was waiting in joy for the consecration and installation in March.

However, with the unexpected spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the consecration and installation were postponed to May 2. In accordance with this, I have been commissioned bishop in charge by the Primate.

I took the position initially since the term was for a month from April to May 2.

However, the infection spread more and more thereafter, and the bishop’s consecration and installation were again postponed until October 24.  Honestly, I was slightly uncertain, but I had accepted it at first and have decided to be with you all until October.

My hometown is Yokohama, but I was born in Obuse, Nagano Prefecture. My mother’s hometown is in Obuse, and my mother went back to her old home, and that is where I was born.

I remember visiting Obuse when I was in elementary school, spending many hours waiting for the train at Ueno Station during the most congested days of summer vacation.

After the war, I had repeatedly heard stories from my mother about my aunt who was a nurse at Shinsei sanatorium at that time and about doctors who had come from Canada.

Reverend Junichi Kubota is my uncle, and while he was at Iiyama Resurrection Church, I spent a week during my summer vacation there with my cousin. At that time, there were many walnuts on the veranda of the rectory.

Having been asked to become the managing bishop, I was looking forward to visiting churches in the Diocese of Chubu very fond to me.  However, the virus infection has not yet ended, and all in the Diocese of Chubu have yet to gather and worship. It seems the situation will continue for a little while longer.

Under such circumstances, it is important to our religious life that everyone pray together and listen to the Word from their respective places.

At each church, the clergies offer daily worship services, including Sundays. I encourage the laypeople to open their prayer book and the Bible to pray together from their respective places. In this way, we will be able to maintain the fellowship of our Lord.

On that occasion, please pray aloud and read the Words of the Bible. Of course, reading silently is perfectly fine, but by reading with your eyes and listening to your own reading voice, each prayer and the Word will become even more convincing and stay in your mind.

In time of hardships, the true self in people will appear. In such time like this, we must always pray, and live faithfully to the Words we hear, giving concern to each other’s pain.  Let’s help and support each other to overcome these difficulties together.

Let us all be together until the installation of the new bishop.

I pray that there be comfort and encouragement of the Lord, and guidance and protection on each one of you.

The Rt Revd Ignasio Osamu Irie

Church as an “Ecclesia”– Facing the Novel Coronavirus

As the novel coronavirus outbreak has become a pandemic, churches are also taking various measures to prevent infection.

At the current point of time as I am writing this (on March 15), five out of eleven dioceses of Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Anglican Church in Japan have suspended public worship.  Currently, worship has not been completely suspended within the Diocese of Chubu, but some churches have suspended worships on Sundays due to the outbreak of those infected in the local area.  There is a possibility that we may have to suspend worship in our diocese depending on future circumstances.

This virus may infect other people before specific symptoms appear, and one may become a source of infection before realizing it, and may also be infected from those around you.  Such circumstances may happen.  Also, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare are warning people “to avoid gathering in groups in areas with poor ventilation where people gather closely together” to prevent infection.  Many churches apply to this very condition, and there is a possibility that they have an unspecified number of people going in and out.  Considering this, suspension of worship is unavoidable as an emergency measure. 

On the other hand, given that a church is an “ecclesia (a gathering, to gather),” it goes without saying that it is not something easily solved by just saying “we are suspending our church worship due to danger.”  However, this infection can be fatal depending on conditions and cannot be treated like a common cold.  Because church is a community where it values life, this matter needs to be handled carefully.

At Diocese of Tokyo where I am temporarily assigned, a video of the Holy Eucharist presided over by the bishop is being distributed as one measure being taken during the suspension of worship, and this has been viewed by many people.  In that process, an unexpected way of use has emerged.

When a certain priest visited a hospitalized church member and showed this video on the smartphone, the patient was in tears of joy and said, “I am so happy because I have not been able to go to church for a while.”  I have also heard that elderlies who have been at home for a long time are repeatedly watching the video and singing the hymns.  Before we start saying how we are not able to go to church or take part in the sacrament on Sundays, I was made to think that we should reflect on just how much our thoughts we put into for these people so far. 

This issue was recently raised at a meeting of the Ecumenism Dialogue with Catholic and Lutheran churches.  Lutheran churches have decided not to hold the Holy Eucharist for the time being, and Catholic Church Archdiocese Nagasaki recommends family members and others read the bible on the day and share while mass is being suspended.  I have learned from both churches that in this case, it is a time to recall that we live on His Word, and we are invited to share it with people close to us.

Ecclesiastical churches must not stop gathering at any time.  However, they must also be open to the many possibilities of specific “ways of gathering.”  Where is God urging churches to turn and act in this time of difficulty?

Revd David Shintaro Ichihara

“Moving Toward a New Diocese”

This will be the last column I will be writing for the monthly newsletter “Tomoshibi” in my current position.  I will be retiring as of March 31.  As I look back, it has been 44 years with the Diocese of Chubu since I started at Nagoya St. Matthew’s Church as a Candidate for Holy Orders in April 1976. 

I have been at 8 churches during those years, and 20 in total when including managing churches.  For the last 10 years, I worked as the Diocesan Bishop.  I do not know if I was able to work to my fullest, but I cannot thank enough for being given the privilege in having me work for God.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support.   

I will be resigning from my current position, and Reverend Renta Nishihara will be the succeeding bishop of the diocese.  Under the succeeding bishop, the role will be taken on not only by the bishop but of the lay and clergy of the diocese; I pray that worship services, missionary, and pastoral work will further be enriched.  Of course, I would like to support as much as possible as a retired minister. 

The diocesan bishop installation of Bishop Nishihara will bring a great change to the worship services, missionary, and pastoral work.  It seems that work as a diocesan bishop from now on will be different from my time as a bishop.  The specifics in changes are yet to come, but both lay and clergies must change their consciousness and respond to those changes.    

In that sense, the installation of Bishop Nishihara is something that will give Diocese of Chubu a new direction, and there will be the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, why not take the plunge into the long-pending matter on the diocesan organization reform.  

Also, a question has been raised at the Province on the ways of the current diocesan system.  The House of Bishops has suggested an idea of “Deanery-Diocese System (name tentative),” and it is without doubt that this will be a great matter of discussion at this year’s General Synod of Nippon Sei Ko Kai.  How do we face this issue of the Diocese System as Diocese of Chubu?  This will be a matter which will deeply involve in the ways of the future of the Diocese.   

However, even if there are various problems, the important thing is that our belief in God will not change no matter how the organization or system changes.  Church is not an organization.  A church exists where there is faith of each individual person, so let us keep hold of our own faith.  It isn’t difficult.  Personally, I believe people can move forward even if they do not practice anything special in worship services, missionary, or pastoral work.  Rather, the basics of faith should be valued, and turn one’s mind to the individual’s spirit and the small things.  These will become the base of missionary work and pastoral care, and by being faithful and respectful, we believe there will be a new outlook on missionary work and pastoral care ahead.    

The ministry of Jesus in the region of Galilee was small.  However, that small ministry was the very work of God Our Father.  Appreciating the activities and relationships, though they might be small, at each church will lead to the further revitalization of churches and the diocese.

May God bless you.

The Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa

Christmas Invitation

The annual Christmas pageant (Nativity Play) was held again this winter at Inariyama Kurumi Kindergarten.  A handmade invitation was sent to me for I was scheduled to speak and read the Bible at the beginning of the pageant as the chaplain.  As practice begins, children’s singing voices echoes in the chapel. Children who were in tears because they were not able to play the role they had wanted and are also practicing.  Looking at the children wearing their costumes, the memories of those days when I wore such costumes came clearly back into my mind. 

Even children who are usually fine will feel nervous as the day of the performance approaches.  I remembered what the angel had told Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, who received the news of the great joy of Jesus’ birth, “Don’t be afraid.”  At first, they were surprised and afraid, but receiving the news from God, they set off on a journey which was not going to be easy.

The familiar faces, voices, and gestures of children overlapped with the people from the Bible, and its events came to life.  Joseph may have had such a look.  It must have been difficult walking around each inn with two of them.  The children who I had thought were still young were moving with their own intention.

On the day of the performance, family members gathered at the chapel and as they looked on, the story began with a narration by the second-year children wearing white cotters.  The first-year kindergarteners acting as “star children” sing in cute gestures, and the oldest children play the roles of Joseph and Mary, the angels, innkeeper, shepherds, sheep, and wise men. The kind innkeeper sings, “I’m really sorry, we have no rooms available now,” and points to the adjacent inn.  The singing of the shepherds and sheep was wonderful, and at the climax of the play where each wise man gives an offering and sings, I could not help but think that the main character in the play was everyone.

The Christmas story may be called as an invitation of joy from God to each of us living in our respective places. We are all essential in the eyes of God.  And the protagonist of Christmas, Jesus the Son of God, shines light on all lives.

The most wonderful part of the script was where the shepherd and sheep, the wise men, and the innkeepers all came to the stable to worship the newly born Jesus, saying “Mary and Joseph, congratulations.” The angels join, and everyone surrounds Jesus. “Congratulations” is not a word that only Mary received.  This was a scene where we were made to realize that the Lord had come to us, and that it was a joyful greeting that God had come to us. How wonderful it is to see a Christmas pageant where we can hear the Words through the children’s voices, appearances, and lives.

The other day, there was a woman who came to her first Christmas Eve service.  She was a graduate of a missionary school, and said laughing, “I wanted to do something Christmas.”  There is no doubt that she must have heard the Christmas story once.  I pray that again in the year 2020, we will be a church continuing to share and sing this joy that the Lord has come to us.

Deacon Mary Reiko Yamato
Nagano Holy Savior’s Church

We Who Wait on the Lord

As the end of the year draws closer, news headlines of the year are featured, and I think back feeling they were from more than a year ago.  During the Edo Period, the common people would listen to Joya no Kane (bells ringing out the old year) and talk about “Shichimi Go-etsu San-e.”  Family members would rejoice that the year has been a good one if one had 7 delicious food, 5 happy moments and 3 wonderful encounters with someone during the year.  This is quite a stylish way of spending the end of the year.  Smartphones have become an element of our lives these days, so it might be worthwhile looking at stored photos on our phones.  Unfortunate things and disasters can happen in any year.  However, by retracing one’s memory little by little, we may be led to realize that there were happy and thankful moments.  Similarly, if people can look to the past from the future, the new year, for sure, may be welcomed peacefully.  

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”  (Lamentations 3:26)

Everyone knows waiting on God is not easy.  The Divine Providence is vast and boundless.  When unacceptable happenings occur while waiting on God, we may be torn between conflicting emotions suspecting the salvation of God and losing control of ourselves and even our belief.  The book of Isaiah is going to be read during the Christmas service. 

Although it was more than 700 years before the birth of our Savior, it is said as if it has already happened.  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”  (Isaiah 9:6) Since the birth of Christ is the Word of God and the will of God, Isaiah took it as an event that has, for sure, already happened.  Waiting for the Savior is not just waiting for something uncertain.  The true Savior appears to those who earnestly trust in God without any agitation towards the length of the wait.

Abram went as the Lord had told him.  He was not able to obtain land easily nor was there any sign of him begetting an heir.   To him, the sound of the dry desert wind might have sounded as if “that cannot possibly be.”

However, Abram looked at the stars afar, the light in darkness and continued to hold belief in God.   At the beginning of the Christmas Story, the Gospel of Luke depicts Mary who was confused by the angel’s words.  “How will this be…?”  Mary realized that God’s greatest promise was the birth of the Savior, the Lord himself, and she came to wait on the Lord.  We also wait on our Lord. 

“But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  (Romans 8:24b-25)  

The Christmas preparations are starting.  We wait with joy for that is the definite happiness.  The Savior will come into this world among us.  Let us spend the season of Advent trusting salvation, love, and forgiveness which God had already started.

Revd Matthew Naomichi Yano
Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church