Chapel February 26, 2016

Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you won’t be tested.

Jesus said this to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane more than 2000 years ago, and we study and remember those words even today. What would he say to us, today? Would he not, perhaps, say the same thing? We look around us and see many frightening things. When listening to the news, doesn’t it sound like the world is falling apart, breaking down? Of course, the news media is sensationalist, it would like us to be afraid, because if we are, we will watch their news shows and buy their newspapers. But even if a lot of what we are told is exaggerated, it is still true that the world seems like it is at a turning point: like the pendulum of history is swinging wildly to the right, towards fascism and fear. Maybe we should look seriously at what is happening around us, but we should also look strong and hard at our own actions and beliefs. Are our own actions improving our communities? Or are they making things worse? What about our inactions? Does not acting on something, does doing nothing, does being asleep at the turn of history make things worse? But then, how do we know we are, actually, doing the right thing.

Yajima Kajiko once said to JG students, “You have the Bible, now discipline yourselves.” So we have the Bible. Yes. But what do we do with it? How can it help us to discipline ourselves? It can’t help us unless we know what is in it. We must study it, and JG is helping us to do that by having these daily chapel services. You can learn, here, what the Bible says about discipline, about life, and about our world. When we study the Bible here and in our classrooms, then, and only then will it be useful for us as a tool to discipline ourselves.

So what does that Bible tell us to do today? In the Bible reading, today, Jesus is depending on his disciples, his friends, to support him in prayer as he faces the climactic event, the time when his whole life on Earth and the many prophecies preceding it in the Old Testament come into clear focus. He is going to give his life for mankind, and for that he is remembered around the world and worshipped around the world even today.

In the Garden, Jesus was speaking to his disciples, and to us now, he was and is speaking, too. And I think that his message on that fate filled evening in Gethsemane is directed to all generations and peoples. Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you aren’t tested.

If we are awake to the words of the Bible, we can see that it tells us that we should not wish for power, or wish to be very rich; those should not be our goals. Look at Matthew 16:26 on page 32 of your Bibles.

人は、たとえ全世界を手に入れても、自分の命を失ったら、何の得があろうか。自分の命を買 い戻すのに、どんな代価を支払えようか。What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

People in developed nations worry too much about personal safety, comfort, luxury, fame and wealth, while the people in developing nations are working hard everyday just to have enough food to eat.

So called Christian people in so called Christian nations are judging, shaming, alienating, hurting, slandering, and attacking others who are different from them. And this is happening right now while we speak. It would seem that we have time traveled back to the 1940’s when the world was at the doorway to World War II.

Refugees are crowding into Europe, North Korea is beating its war drums, ISIS is killing people in the Middle East, police are killing black youth in America, Presidential candidates there are speaking words dripping of hate, and the country of Japan itself is becoming more militaristic.

In the midst of this terrible crisis, especially the refugee crisis, why aren’t we actively trying to help the poor and the homeless, the country-less?

Finally, lets look at Matthew 25: 35-36

お前たちは、私が飢えていた時に食べさせ、のどがかわいていた時に飲ませ、旅をしていた時 に宿を貸し、裸の時に着せ、病気をしていた時に見舞い、ろうにいた時にたずねてくれた。 こう言われたら、人々は主に尋ねた。いつ、私たちはこんな事をしたのかと。40せつ:そこ で、王は答える。はっきり言っておく。私の兄弟であるこの最も小さい者の一人にしたのは、 私にしてくれたことなのである。

Christ died on the cross for every single one of us. He excluded no one. He died for Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists. He died for the rich, the poor and the middle class, and he died for you and for me. So when we do good to the people of the world, no matter their religion, no matter they are rich or poor, powerful or weak, we are doing good directly to the Christ who died for us.

This is what the Bible teaches us. This is what it says. We would do well to listen and we would do well to take action and to speak out.

Dear Lord,
Lately we hear a lot about crime, about terrorism, about refugees who are not only homeless but country-less. We hear about global warming. We hear people who would like to become rulers in this world but who can only speak the words of hate. Help us to stay awake, to know what is happening, and to not be swayed by the opinions of the loudest speakers. Help us to remember that you are alive in each person, and that when we show love and kindness to them, we are showing love and kindness directly to you.
Lord, you have give us your principles in the Bible, let them become our principles, and let them guide our actions.
In Jesus Name,