Saturday, January 15, 2005

Sunday, aka Nichiyobi

Sundays are an interesting paradox. On the one had they are a great day because I get the chance to spend time with my Christian brothers and sisters fellowshipping and worshipping God. I also get to share the message of Christ to those who don't know Him. So it's a great day. Sunday is also a hard day. They're hard because they're a huge time (9am-6pm usually) and energy investment that can be more of a drain than edification. I now understand what I've heard ministers say for years about Sunday being more of a "work day" than anything. That seems sad to me. I don't know how to change it.
I was talking to a friend tonight about the responsibilties foreigners can carry at church. I have mixed feelings on the subject. On one hand I recall the words of Peter Parker: "With great power comes great responsibility." I have been given the gift of growing up in a Christian environment and being exposed to all kinds of teaching and wisdom in my short little life. I also had the great great privilege of going to a Christian school and getting a degree in Bible. So I do have a lot of knowledge that I should be ready and willing to pass along to others. On the other hand, when too much responsibility is put on gaijin, the church ceases to be Japanese and instead becomes a foreigner's church with Japanese members. Am I making sense? I don't claim to have extensive international experience, but I have seen churches abroad that seem to be little Americas. The culture and worship style and personality (and sometimes language) have been transplanted from America to a foreign field. That makes me uncomfortable.
I attend the Hitachi-Taga church, so that's really the only place I can speak on with any authority. I think our congregation has struck a wonderful balance of these two worlds. We have fabulous Japanese leadership at the church that I cannot speak highly enough of. Instead of placing the locus of responsibility in the hands of gaijin, instead we, like any other member, are simply asked to use our gifts in the ways in which God would have us do so. So through this some lead a bi-lingual Sunday school class, and some conduct English conversation classes on Sunday nights, and in general act as part of the body of believers as we would in our home countries. What I love about Taga is that I see Paul's declaration of unity lived out within the body. We're not "the foreigners" and "the Japanese" as we sit together every week, we are brothers and sisters.
Hmm, I seem to have started talking about one thing in this post but ended in a completely other thing. Although it did end more positively than it started, so I shouldn't complain.

1 comment:

Ash said...

Thanbks for reminding us the classic 'missions' problem. I'm glad to hear how your church handles it, and I hope the lesson can be learned by others. I'm a bit worried about encountering this problem a month from now.