Thursday, January 03, 2008

A Pair of 50s

The year 2007 saw two very different churches, both of which are connected to my life, celebrate their 50th anniversaries. My home church, the Georgetown Christian Reformed Church celebrated early in the year and Miyakojima Kyoukai (都島教会) celebrated late in the year. I received a commemoration book from GCRC in December not long before I received a commemoration book from 都島教会. There are pictures of me in both books and every time I happen to see myself it scares me. For 都島教会 everybody had to write an essay. I wrote in English because my Japanese is not very good, and a capable church member translated it into Japanese for the book. (See below if you are interested.)
The differences between the two congregations are striking. Urban Japan and not so urban Canada. Worship style. GCRC with a congregation that is ten times the size of 都島教会. The similarities of the commemorations are also striking, historical photographs of the church buildings and former pastors. Photos of the congregation and congregation life as it changed under God's direction over the years. Memories. Most striking is God's faithfulness to both of these congregations over the 50 years.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Christ commanded us to “Take eat” and “Drink this”. As Christians we do this regularly in many different ways. The church in which I grew up, the Georgetown Christian Reformed Church, did communion only four times a year. That seems to be almost not at all, but it was a very special occasion, not to be missed and not to be trifled with. By the time I began to take communion the church leaders saw fit to change the frequency to once a month. When I came to Japan, and started to attend 都島教会、Communion became a weekly event for me and I was able to see another side of the Lord’s Supper.
In 1993 I spent two weeks helping with some construction in the Dominican Republic. While I was there I visited the San Mateo church in Sabana-Grande-de-Boya, a small town in comparison to Georgetown, which is very small in comparison to Osaka. During the service we were invited to partake of the Lord’s Supper as guests of the congregation. Sitting on rudimentary benches, the bread was passed to each participant. Then in small glasses, only some of which matched, the wine was served. When half of the congregation had received their wine, there were no more glasses. The first half took and drank, while the second half looked on. Then the glasses were efficiently gathered and washed in the baptismal basin, which was sitting ready for a baptism later in the service. The freshly washed glasses were refilled and I too was able to participate. The entire service was done in Spanish, and I don’t speak any Spanish. When I came to Japan, the entire service was done in Japanese, and I didn’t speak any Japanese. But. I was able to partake of communion, and it continued to be meaningful. Communion is tangible, I see it, I feel it, I taste it. And as certain as I am of these physical things, I am also certain of Christ’s body and blood having been given for me.
Participating in communion in these different circumstances, has demonstrated to me in a concrete way how the body of Christ crosses borders and time. Every week as we take communion together, we join Christians from a myriad of different times and places, as far back as the twelve with Jesus, and as far away as Canada and the Dominican Republic.

私が育った教会 (改革キリスト教会)はー年に4回しか聖餐式がありませんでした。それは、全然ダメのように見えますが、しかしそれは非常に特別の儀式であり、見逃してはならないもので、いい加減に軽んじることの出来ないものでした。私が聖餐式を始める頃までには、教会の指導者たちはその回数を月に一回するのが妥当だと思うようになりました。私が日本に来て、都島教会に出席し始めてからは、聖餐式が毎週になり、私は聖餐式の新たな面を見ることが出来ました。

Many thanks to 荒木紀子さん (Mrs. Araki Noriko) for the translation.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On riding to school. For my posterior-ity

From the archives, I recommend you blow the dust off this one before reading it.

Largely I really enjoyed cycling to school. It took anywhere between 35 and 45 minutes depending on how genki I felt and what route I took, but that was no problem. Things that really were a pain in the butt were the never ending irresponsible or otherwise non-attention paying cyclists and pedestrians and especially the many, many rude taxi drivers.
I had a good seat when I came to Japan. It broke. I bought a new seat at the Konan, the cheapest one I could find since going to school doesn't pay all that well. I pretty much stopped enjoying my ride after that, my butt was always so sore from that crappy seat, even after forcing myself to "break it in" (not sure weather that is my butt or the seat) in any case it didn't work. The moral of the story? Never buy a cheap seat when you butt is on the line.

When I originally wrote this little bit the feeling was stronger than it is today. Upon rereading it, I noticed that I used a stronger word for butt everywhere and thought for my more sensitive readers I should change it. If you are a purist, feel free to substitute "butt " with a stronger word and reread for the full effect.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 ー 平成20

Happy New Year!
あけまして おめでとう ございます。