Monthly Message

On Christmas

Hitoshi OKADA, General Secretary of Tomisaka Christian Center

…though he was in the form of God, …but emptied himself, …being born in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7)

In Tomisaka, every year in December, we take German students of theology who participate in the Interreligious Dialogue Program organized by the NCC Institute of Religion to Yasukuni Shrine. Yasukuni is a shrine that honors people who died in the war for the Emperor and Class A war criminals as spirits (gods), and you can say that the shrine’s theology is a one that worships humans as gods or humans become gods.
But God in the Bible is completely different. The Christmas event asks us what it means that God becomes human. Jesus, Son of God, was born in the lower part of the world, walked with people who were socially discriminated and marginalized, and was crucified to save all humans who were tainted with sin. God undertook human suffering as his suffering, and became a person to live in solidarity with human beings (incarnation), and affirmed the way of life that aims for liberation by sharing the hardships. This is the Gospel of the Bible. Those who believe in this Good News and are subject to only the God of crucifixion and resurrection with fear, can never overlook the social system that controls the inside of each individual, discriminates and excludes those who don’t obey and tolerates the fact of invasion toward the outside.
The Emperor System tries to shake and break our daily lives with a totalitarian celebration mood, as seen in the ceremonial ritual that began this spring. The Daegu Festival is a religious ceremony in which the Emperor (human) becomes a god. Theology worshipping a human being as a god is a theology that profits only for himself at the expense of others and disregards his responsibilities and sins forever. If people live with Gospel faith, they must face this social system. Christian faith demands a positive but critical relationship with the world, and there, exists the Christians’ daily life. Where and with whom will we celebrate the 2019 Advent and Christmas? (October 31, 2019, Reformation Day)