Readings for The Martyrs of Japan 1597
“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,will save it.” (Mark 8: 35)
This Mark verse clearly reminds us of the glorious life after death and the reward of maintaining our faith as our faith is shown in the Gospel. This is a life of dedication. And as Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
I’m conflicted about the exact date for remembering the Martyrs of Japan, the 5th or the 6th of February. In any case since I am going to preach on them this Wednesday night I thought I would reflect on the permanency of Christianity. But first let’s get the back-story from James Kiefer.
by James Kiefer
“The Christian faith was first introduced into Japan in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and later by Franciscan missionaries. By the end of that century, there were probably about 300,000 baptized believers in Japan.
Unfortunately, this promising beginning met reverses, brought about by rivalries between different groups of missionaries and political intrigues by the Spanish and Portuguese governments, along with power politics factions in the Japanese government itself. The result was a suppression of Christians.” (http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/Japan_martyrs.htm)
These rivalries between different groups of missionaries and political intrigues by the Spanish and Portuguese governments are the kinds of things that happen when we forget about our Lord Jesus. We must always remember that there is one Christ. There are many ways but all should be respected. No one way is perfect. Real Christianity maintains itself.
“By 1630, what was left of Christianity in Japan was driven underground. Yet it is remarkable that two hundred and fifty years later there were found many men and women, without priests, who had preserved through the generations a vestige of Christian faith.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for February 6) This is a WOW! moment for me. It seems the Christian Church prospers best in secret, like the persecuted Church prior to Constantine. But even deeper than the Church, please know this in your own personal faith-life, real Christianity maintains itself no matter what contemporary label we put on it.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John