Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God - Matthew 5:9
From June 10-20, 2018 I had the great opportunity to participate in the Korea Peace Treaty Campaign that was organized by the National Council of Churches in Korea, a Global Ministries partner, and included participants from South Korea, the US, Canada, Scotland, and England. We kicked off the campaign in Tokyo where NCCK members met with Japanese Diet members and where we all met with members of the National Council of Churches in Japan, also a Global Ministries partner. We then moved to Hiroshima where we all participated in the 6th Global Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution. After 4 days of study tours, presentations, prayer services, and discussion, we headed to South Korea. There we visited observation facilities along the border with North Korea, heard presentations about barriers to peace in Korea as well as visions of a peaceful future, attended a worship service in a local church, and met with a Member of Parliament and a person who works on the staff of the South Korean President. Throughout our time together there was one common theme and one common hope: peace in Northeast Asia.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 3:20-35
Prayers for Japan:
God, your Spirit opens us to new patterns of relationship,
Just as Jesus sat with like-minded people and called them his family, allow us to embrace people who have a common heart for peace and dialogue, and to see them as family. At this time we are particularly mindful of the people of East Asia, as leaders gather to discuss the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We know that the road to overcoming divisiveness and building trusting relationships will not be easy, but we place our trust in your hands, and in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer requests from our partners at the NCCJ.
- Please pray, in the spirit of Article 9, for lasting peace among the nations of northeast Asia.
- Please pray that those who soon meet to discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula will be guided by the Holy Spirit.
This edition is filled with interesting articles, starting off with 4 reflections on Faith at ARI from the perspective of Christian and non-Christian staff and volunteers. At the end of the newsletter, you will find a reprint of an article by ARI principal founder Tom Takami written back in 1974 where he essentially predicts where ARI will go in the future in terms of being a place of multiple faiths. In between these two pieces you will find profiles on some of the 2018 program participants and reports on some of the graduates, including a moving tribute to the life of a recently deceased grad. Finally, there are reports on two trips, one focuses on last year's speaking tour to New England and the other on a visit by ARI supporters to graduates in the Philippines.Read more
Teruko’s funeral was like no other. She called it a “Celebration of Life” Her dream was to build a “blended community.” She wanted to bring people together from all walks of life, and to witness the birthing of something new. She had choreographed her own farewell party. She wanted us to wear bright dazzling colors, instead of the customary black mourning clothes. The rainbow was to be the symbol of our blended-ness. So there we were, all six-hundred of us, crammed into the limited space at the Aoi Church in Kyoto. We were there, not only to celebrate her life, but to celebrate life itself. At one point during the service, we joined in a responsive reading called “The Confession of Life." Death will not have the last word. Darkness cannot overcome the brightness of the love that we share. Pain, suffering and loss will not forever cloud the vision of hope that binds us. Together we declared our belief in LIFE, and the enduring power of God’s love for all living things.Read more
I have completed four years at Kwansei Gakuin University (KG) in Kobe. It’s a rather large institution (23,000 students) established by Methodist missionaries in 1889. I had two roles. First, I was chaplain of the Center for Religious Activities where I coordinated programs with other chaplains; events, lectures, worship services, work camps, Christmas events, newsletters, and various other programs that help to enrich the learning environment for the students, and at the same time educate about the Christian values and identity that make KG such a special school. My second role was as associate professor of the School of Theology. I taught several classes, and contributed to the various programs being held within the department. KG also is committed to issues of human rights. The annual Rainbow Week is a chance to educate the student body regarding some of the issues facing the LGBTQ community. It is a time to celebrate the diversity of the human family present on campus. Human rights education is another strength of KG. There are many classes available to students to learn firsthand about the struggles that minorities face in society. In April, my assignment will change to serve at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo – named after Oberlin College in the state of Ohio. I will be serving as chaplain on their new campus in downtown Tokyo – an area known as the tenderloin district of Tokyo.Read more
I want to share with you some news from the Bazaar Café in Kyoto. (The Bazaar Café is our church’s coffee house ministry.) Among the many programs we have going on at the Café, last year we started what is called “Shaba Café.” “Shaba” refers to the “outside world” as opposed to the world inside prison.Read more
I want to introduce you to some paintings by Soichi Watanabe, one of Japan’s most internationally known Christian artists. I happen to know him from thirty years ago when we met through a Bible study held at the house of a Christian professor in the city of Sendai. Watanabe’s paintings are special in many ways. First, his paintings are mostly based on biblical themes. Second, you will notice that the contours are quite simple, and there are no facial features depicted. And third, most of his paintings depict human figures who are in relationship to one another. When I first saw his artwork, I wondered why he paints in such abstract form. The expression seemed somewhat detached from real life. But now I have come to appreciate his soft tones and the detached simplicity of expression.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Matthew 14:13-21
Prayers for Japan:
On this Hiroshima Day, we pray for peace.
We pause to remember the devastation caused by the atomic bombs 72 years ago and the human suffering that continues to this day.
We also remember the horrific nuclear disaster in Fukushima 6 years ago. Be with the people of Fukushima and neighboring areas who still suffer.
We pray for a world that is free from the suffering caused by nuclear weapons and nuclear disasters.
Give our leaders the wisdom and the leadership that is needed for true peace in this world.
As Jesus had compassion for those who were hungry and sick, let us too have compassion. Let us also share what we have so that all are able to eat and be filled. Let us believe that with faith in God, we too can make possible what seems impossible!
Help us God so that we are not complacent with systems that leave people to suffer. Help us give voice to the injustices that exist and help bring about the peaceful world you meant for us.
Be with us and guide us,
“Life is never about being correct, but only and always about being connected. Just stay connected. At all costs stay connected.” Richard Rohr
These words give me a framework for God’s mission and how I want to live out God’s love for this world. If only we would stop building walls and dividing people. If only we could discover ways to cherish our common humanity, or to appreciate the inter-connectedness of all living things. Our calling is clearer than ever; to reach out and connect, and to celebrate in doing so.Read more
Daisy B. Edgerton
December 22, 1921 – March 23, 2017