Marian R. Ziebell
June 19, 1933 – October 27, 2015
Richard Lewis Lammers
November 5, 1926 – February 2, 2016
…inspired by [the prophetic utterances] you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. I Timothy 1: 18b, 19a
The nation was afire with anger. People took to the streets this past summer to protest the passing of the new set of security laws proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Non-violent demonstrations were also held on one day in August in 350 locations all over the country. It was the young people who stood at the forefront of this movement.Read more
Lectionary Selection: John 1:1-9, 10-18
Prayers for Japan:
As we begin a new year, we look forward with hope.
We pray that this year will bring peace in our communities, and in the world.
At the same time we know that this world is suffering.
Xenophobia, hate crime, and violence, divide us and threaten the peace you mean for us to have.
Be with our leaders, that they may steer us toward a more tolerant society.
Today we especially lift up the minorities in Japan who are subject to discrimination: Such as the Koreans, Okinawans, Ainu, Buraku people, immigrants, and LGBT persons.
We pray for the churches and leaders who minister to and stand with these communities. May you strengthen them as they continue to work for a just and inclusive society.
At the start of this New Year, may we recognize the light that shines in the darkness and do our part to make the light shine and overcome the darkness.
In this New Year, let us walk in the light of Jesus Christ:
The light of acceptance and understanding,
the light of love,
and of peace.
This Christmas UCC and Disciples churches in the US will be sending Christmas cards to churches in northeastern Japan. The 85 churches who will be receiving the cards are mostly small rural churches located in and around the vicinity of Fukushima.Read more
William “Bill” George Kroehler
Febrary 7, 1931 – September 26, 2015
Now wait a minute! How can we let a political party, which only represents 20 percent of the Japanese population, forcefully pass such controversial laws that not only run against our own constitution, but against the overwhelming will of the people? What about democracy? What does it mean to be a constitutional democracy? These were the questions on the minds of the people who took to the streets this summer to protest the passing of the new set of security laws proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The largest protest was held in Tokyo on August 26th when 120,000 people gathered in front of the Diet building. Similar non-violent demonstrations were also held that day in 350 locations all over the country. The nation was afire with anger. And who do you think were standing at the forefront of this movement? It was the young people. Although the security laws (called “war laws” by the opposition because they allow for Japan to ignore six decades of constitutional debate around the peace constitution and to join in US military activities all over the world) were passed on September 19th, the movement has given many people reason to hope. As one of my colleagues put it, “Though democracy in post-war Japan has not taken root within the halls of the Diet, it is promising to know it has taken root in the hearts of the young people.”Read more
Please pray for Japan.
On my way back from Fukushima yesterday, I stopped by the Diet building in central Tokyo. There was a group of two to three hundred people protesting the present government's intentions to pass the new set of security laws. Tonight there will be another large demonstration in front of the Diet building. Each day the television reports the discussion continuing in the upper house. The opposition presents issue after issue, and Abe and his men intentionally steer themselves away from answering the questions. One opposition leader put it to the prime minister this way; "Mr. Abe, why don't you just give this issue up? You see too many of the people are against this set of laws." Government officials argue "The Japanese people have always been cautious of new security treaties. But at each historical turning point the Japanese government has pushed on to implement needed changes, and the Japanese people have benefited. In retrospect I think you would agree that the decisions of the past were good. We are standing at such a juncture once again."
This argument is deeply misguided and self-serving. The people have stood up to protest a government that has crossed the line - to disregard its own constitution for the sake of national security.
The Japanese government is trying to push through a new set of security laws which would allow the Japanese Self Defense Forces to enter more fully in supporting US military maneuvers anywhere in the world. Prime minister Abe is trying to deliver on his promises made to the US last December, before he even opened the issue up for discussion with his own people. 99% of constitutional lawyers agree that these laws are unconstitutional. People all over Japan are standing up in protest. Polls show that 60% of the public feel the government has not fully explained the reasoning behind the laws. On August 26th 120,000 people protested in front of the Diet building in Tokyo, and there were protests in 350 locations throughout Japan. Abe, who has a majority in the Diet, is determined to take the vote on September 17th ignoring the uproar from his own people. The US will be pleased if Japan can take a more active role in the Far East. But this move by Abe and his selective circle of friends to bypass the Japanese constitution is certain to heighten the tensions in east Asia.Read more
Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and a member of the church leaders’ pilgrimage to Japan on the 70thanniversary of the atomic bombings, pressed the case for the Humanitarian Pledge against nuclear weapons at the Hiroshima Day rally on 6 August 2015.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 6:1-13
Prayers for Japan:
Creator God, we praise you for your sustaining and healing presence in our lives. Your hope is like a new seedling springing forth from the ground. Thank you for the signs all around us that remind us of your ever-renewing love for the earth and for all human kind. Sometimes our hearts are heavy because of the destruction and alienation that we see before us. Sometimes we are confronted with the truth that it is our own human existence that has desecrated your beautiful creation. Bless us with the strength to repent, knowing that you will lead us to live out the Gospel, which means good news for all of your creation. As Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs charging them “to take nothing” for their journey, send us forth today, just as we are, to do your work of healing and reconciliation.