Monday, June 14, 2004

Miyakojima Kyokai

(More about my digs tomorrow). I went to Miyakojima Kyokai Sunday morning. This church is part of the United Church of Christ in Japan aka Kyodan. At the time of World War II the Japanese government forced all churches and denominations to form one denomination. The governments leverage was join the one denomination or you will forfiet your land. This effectively forced any church of significance to become part of the Kyodan. The United Church is generally thought of as a dead church, but I think God is faithful and will not let go.

I understood very little of the language but I think the spirit of the church was alive and well. Even though it is a Japanese United Church, it has become an Eastern Orthodox Church. Interesting to find such a church in Japan. The Pastor there sees the Eastern Orthodox Church with its many visual practices and its consistent liturgy as a good fit with the Japanese people since they are comfortable with the visual and ritualistic parts of the Shinto and Buddhist religions which so many Japanese are familiar with. The liturgy is very set. The melodies of the songs are very familiar to me even though I don’t necessarily understand what I’m singing. Communion is done weekly there, and every one there today participated. The pastor was richly dressed in a very red and orange and gold cloak which he wore over his black robe. The church was packed, about 20 or 25 people. Very typical of the churches in Japan. Mostly women, mostly older people, very few young children.

I had to introduce myself which I was able to do in my very limited Japanaese. I got a real sense of peace from being in that church right from the time I sat down. I felt it was a spiritually healthy church. Wonderful feeling that. Wonderful for me but much more for the people worshipping there.

Today made me ponder some more the best way to present the gospel to the Japanese people, and to wonder about the best way to do church in Japan. But I'll have to ponder that some more and I'll leave that for another day.

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