18 February 2018
Getting 150 years in perspective -
My apologies for not being able to reproduce the photos of the Nagasaki sites as our present technology will not allow this
As we approach the celebrations of 150 years in this parish - a long time by New Zealand standards - there is a lot of remembering going on. Mainly about people who were part of the life of the parish and those who still are here. Those who taught and played music and were in the sports clubs and youth groups. The reunion is a people time and it includes everyone who is part of this parish including the newest visitor to walk through the door. A time to get together which may not come again for some.
150 years ago people who had travelled from far lands met and found their God in the new situation in Papatoitoi. .But we need to be aware that for those 150 years there has been no opposition to being able to worship and to ask others to join our journey following Christ. Maybe that is something we take for granted, for it has never been any other way for this parish. Maybe it is something we take so much for granted that we just expect the church to be there in its present form always and are shocked by changes which differ from our memories.
Our 150 years of worship got brought into sharp perspective when we visited the Martyrs memorial in the heart of Nagasaki during my leave last month. The relief of 26 crucified for being witnesses to Christ are on outside wall and the window inside remembers all those who were killed or persecuted for being Christian especially after Christianity was banned in Japan in 1614. For 250 years these Christians met in secret and passed the faith onto their families. 250 years meeting with fear of being discovered and being killed. That?s one hundred more years than this parish has been around. No one knew about them until a church was permitted to be built in the 1880?s for foreign residents. One day a group of Japanese arrived announcing they were Christian and could they join with that church? A brave move - for the practice of the faith was still forbidden. Their remembering over 250 years was lists of those who were witnesses for Christ and stories of how they had managed to keep their faith alive.. These people of faith faced the atomic bomb disaster and gave strength to that city to seek peace not revenge.
I wonder whether our descendants in the faith will be still worshipping and following Christ after 250 years? We can give thanks for the peace and freedom to worship this parish has been given over the last 150 years and pray that we value and use that freedom well - we do not know how long it will last. We can pray that our comfort has not made us forget the cost which others have paid for following Christ. We can realise that the first 150 years are only the beginning and we can trust God to ensure that Christ is in the midst of the people of this area whether in secret or in ways we may not recognise
May the joy and peace of God be yours
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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