It’s my first free day of Spring break, I saw the rabbit on the mountain today (this signifies that Spring really has come to Fukushima). The English School is resting and I am trying to as well. I am moving this week. The current house I am residing in has been sold by the owner so it on and out. Not far, and I could probably use a transition in my process to simplify my life ala konmari method. If I get time I would like to apply the same to the classroom as well.
I actually don’t have anything profound to say at this time other than that I am really tired and I am very grateful to have this break.
Also, hoping to write more so I hope you’ll be hearing more from me.
The reality we live in, under the weight of grace. So beautifully put.
The image in this post may represent the single most important image I have had the privilege of creating since coming to Japan. People who know me understand that I love to dive right into editing my images as soon as I can get them downloaded on my workstation. But I allowed this set of images to sit for a while so I could reflect on the man who is the subject of these photos and his life’s journey that brought him to where he is.
Anyone familiar with Japanese culture knows that when they see the tattoos and the severed pinky finger, they are looking at the image of someone associated with the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicates. It is true that this man was once a member of the yakuza, but it has been decades since he was miraculously released from the service of his crime bosses to…
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We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
(Psalm 124:7, NRSV)
It is not from Fukushima City that I write. I am sitting with my nephew and brother in his underground, home office. Outside the snowfall barely sticks to the ground as the winds of a winter storm blow with gusto. Yet we are safe in the warm coziness of this space. Warmth, shelter, family and even a little bit of work. It is here that I write.
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs from the first years of our Saviour’s life. In a world seeming to grow in violence and oppression there is a word that the Word frustrates the designs of evil. And whereas Satan, through Herod could not abort the deliverance of God, then so it is true that Satan now defeated, the snare now broken, cannot stop the advance of the Gospel of the Kingdom in this or any age. We are as birds escaped from the fowler’s snare. The snare is broken. Thanks be to the Lord.
As my heart now turns to thoughts of Fukushima I am reminded of my former student who’s son committed suicide last year. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more. And yet, the last Sunday of Advent, when the Japan Lutheran Church celebrates Christmas, her and her husband became followers of Jesus in the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Satan cannot abort the deliverance of our God.
My student’s story is sadly one of a large number who is taken victim by him who holds the power of death and whose native language is lies. The experience last spring of this young man’s premature death is a call to wake up, to be alert; for while we are idle, Satan is busy working to destroy the race of men and Jesus weeps.
But the truth of the Gospel is present in this one line—”the snare is broken.” If Satan is the fowler then death is the snare and its teeth and bindings sin. This contraption, this device of hell is broken. Therefore, where the enemy is bringing attack against Fukushima, where people take their own lives overcome in despair, where individuals reclude themselves from the fellowship of others because they are bound in fear, where people doubt their capacity so much that they refuse to venture into the world I pray love, love, love came down, on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day and the snare is broken! People of Fukushima, fly as the freed birds you are on the wind of God’s Spirit!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer Request: The newly baptized couple at Izumi Lutheran Church who are still grieving the loss of their beloved son.
It has been raining and raining for days. Half-week old, reheated curry and the new letter writing occupy night hours between vespers and compline. Mostly letters of gratitude. Thank you friend, thank you stranger, thank you universe there is still good in you, highest thanks to God of All who alone is good.
The summer makes its way to an end. Everyone acts as if its fall but I would like to remind them that fall starts with the equinox. Yet, my favorite season approaches. In the meantime I try to take in the season passing which has drug on more slowly than the way time has felt anytime recently. That’s a good thing. I’m part elven; I like time to be slow mostly. Of course when you’re in love and separated with those you love all of time and space has a different ring to it.
So much is stirring, so much is good in the Lord’s hands, in this heart, the Lord’s workings, saving everything like rainbows and shooting stars exploding from a fountain of life. So good is the Lord to me. Give thanks, give thanks, and praise his name. Amen.
The way is shut.
We have not ceased our rebellion
And the Lord’s patience, tried again and again,
At last has rendered judgement.
Banishment from the promise
In the desert, death.
Their bodies fell.
For they treated their maker with contempt and their Redeemer with hatred.
They thanked him not but grumbled and complained.
A warning to my heart.
Let the Lord’s desert slay my rebellion
Before my rebellion corrupts my heart to hate the Creator and be banished from His promises.
Meditation on Numbers 14: 20–23
Have you seen Legend? Do you remember the scene when Tom Cruise’s character has to cross the swampy waters outside of the dark sorcerer’s castle? Or what about all the stories where one embarks to cross some dark, misty waters alone. I feel as if I am about to embark on such a journey. But it’s not the presence of evil that terrifies me so much as the wide, open empty that lurks ahead and seems as if it will invade my own life.