【February 2019 No.401】60th Ou District Retreat Highlights History and Hope

by Hirasawa Noboru, pastor Morioka Matsuzono Church

It is with a grateful heart that I make this report on our annual Ou District Retreat from July 30 to Aug. 1. It was held at the Yumori Hotel Kaikan in Tsunagi hot spa area. The main speaker was Fujimoto Mitsuru, pastor of Immanuel General Mission Takatsu Church. The theme of the retreat was “A Church Living In Hope; Learning From History.” The lecture titles were “The Gospel Shared in the Course of Our Calling” and “Hope in God, Hope in Us.” The retreat began with a message by Muraoka Hiroshi, pastor of Hirosaki Church and chair of the Commission on Ou District’s Commission on Mission.

 

While introducing himself and sharing with us his relationship with the Kyodan, in his first lecture Fujimoto spoke about missionaries who were called to evangelism in Japan. He pointed out that our journey in mission begins when we encounter Jesus Christ and that mission itself is the work of Jesus Christ. Then he spoke about Paul: how he was chosen and how, in the midst of hardships, he continued in hope to follow Jesus and pass on the baton of mission and evangelism.

 

In his second lecture, Fujimoto challenged us by asking if we were not much like the early disciples who, when told to go to the other side of the lake, lost sight of Jesus while looking at the stormy sea. The church in Japan, which seems to be struggling in its evangelistic mission, is faced with what is called the “2030 Dilemma”: decreasing number of pastors, aging congregations, and fewer children. However, our mission is Christ’s mission, and he walks with us and shares in the hardships we face. Fujimoto continually stressed to us that our hope is in Christ, and his impassioned words energized and encouraged all of us.

 

For our optional tour, we visited four churches in Morioka, using a microbus and a minivan. Over 40 participants joined us, and we visited Yotsuya Church (Roman Catholic), Uchimaru Church (Kyodan), Morioka Anglican Church, and Morioka Orthodox Church in Japan. During our visits, we were able to hear about the traditions of each church and the challenges they are facing. The decline in membership and pastors was mentioned. We felt the seriousness of the problems, but we were grateful for the warm welcome we received at each church. The participants said that the tour was a good experience.

 

There were also three workshops. One dealt with cults and possible countermeasures; another dealt with the problems connected to the nuclear fuel cycle; and the third workshop dealt with sexual discrimination. These workshops were followed by a full group discussion and closing worship. I give thanks for God’s guidance and blessings throughout the retreat.

*            *            *

 

Ou District Children’s Retreat, A Welcoming Event

                                                  by Kato Naoki, pastor Kitakami Church

As children gathered in the tatami (rice-mat) room on the first day of the Ou District Retreat, you could see the mixture of expectation and tension in their facial expressions. Among the three staff members, the feeling was the same. The “Retreat for Children” began with three youngsters, varying in age from the last year of kindergarten to junior high school, who sat awkwardly at a table. However, after listening to Pastor Matsuura Yusuke of Shimonohashi Church speak about “Shalom” (peace), then working together to make attractive door plates, there were comfortable smiles on the faces of everyone.

 

On the second day we went outside, in spite of some concern about the heat. In front of us was a public square with a water fountain. It wasn’t long before the children were playing together in the water—at first up to their ankles, then up to their knees, and finally, getting their clothes wet. One of our staff, Sato Midori, member of Kitakami Church got into the water with the children. During the break afterward, everyone tried different challenges on the adventure playground next to the square.

 

On the third day, the children and staff used a variety of rubber stamps in various sizes and shapes to make colorful images on a large piece of paper as we recalled our experiences during the retreat. In between the stamps we attached origami and pictures that reminded us of what we had seen and shared during our three days together. We were able to create a work that brought smiles and reflected the joys we had experienced. The junior high student who had gotten sick was able to rejoin us, bringing our three days together to a very happy conclusion. I should add that some of the children younger than five, were in the nursery that shared the same room with us.

 

I give thanks to Jesus, to the churches, and to the families for sending their children to participate in our retreat. (Tr. JS)

From Ou Kyoku Tsushin (Ou District News) , No. 325 Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

 

奥羽教区全体修養会報告

   盛岡松園教会 平澤 昇牧師

 今年も奥羽教区全体修養会を、7月30~8月1日に開催することが出来ました。心から感謝いたします。会場はつなぎ温泉、「湯守ホテル大観」、講師は藤本満先生(インマヌエル総合伝道団高津教会牧師)、主題は「希望に生きる教会~歴史に学ぶ」でした。講演は「使命のうちに伝えられた福音」と「希望は神に、希望は私たちに」です。

 宣教部長の村岡博史牧師(弘前教会)のメッセージで始まり、講演一では、藤本先生が自己紹介や日本基督教団との関係などにも触れ れ、日本伝道へと選ばれた宣教師について語られました。また、主イエスとの出会いからすべての歩みが始まることを通して、宣教は主イエスの働きであること。そして、パウロが選ばれ、パウロは試練の中にあっても希望をもって主イエスを見上げ、宣教に励み、宣教のバトンを繋いだことが語られました。

 講演二では、「向こう岸に渡ろう」と語る主イエスに対して、同船している私たちは嵐に目を奪われて、共にいる主イエスを見失っていないか問われました。

 伝道不振の日本の教会は、2030年問題「牧師の減少、高齢化、少子化」と暗くなることばかりですが、宣教命令をする主イエスが共にいて、苦しみを共有されています。教会の希望は主イエスにあると力強く語られました。講師の熱い語りは、聴衆の力となり希望となりました。

 「オプションツアー」では、マイクロバスとミニバン二台で盛岡の街の教会めぐりをしました。参加人数40名を超え、カトリック四ツ家教会、日本基督教団内丸教会、日本聖公会盛岡聖公会、盛岡ハリストス正教会の四つの教会を巡りました。それぞれの伝統や、現在の課題などを聞くことが出来ました。信徒の減少、教職の減少を挙げていて、問題の深さを感じましたが、いずれの教会も快く見学させて頂き、本当に感謝でした。参加者からも「良い経験でした。」と喜びの声が聞かれました。

 「ワークショップ」では「カルト問題対策」「核燃料サイクル問題」「性差別問題」と大きな大切なテーマを行いました。全体協議、最後の閉会礼拝の時まで守られましたことを心から感謝します。

 

「大歓迎、こども修養会」

 北上教会 加藤直樹

 修養会の一日目、講演会場に近い和室に集まった子どもたちは、期待と緊張の表情でした。迎えるスタッフ三名も、歓迎と緊張の気持ちでいっぱいでした。「こども修養会」は、年長から中学生までの幅広い年代の子どもたち三名とテーブルを囲んで、まだぎこちない雰囲気の中、スタートしました。けれども、松浦牧師から“シャローム(平和)”のお話しを聞き、かわいくてかっこいいドアプレートの工作をする時には、柔らかい笑顔になっていました。

 二日目は、少し暑いかなと心配しながらも外に出ました。目の前に広がる噴水広場で、くるぶし、ひざ、そしてついに洋服もびしょぬれにして遊びました。スタッフの、みどりさんも子どもたちと一緒に水の中へ。休憩と水分補給時間をはさみ、噴水横のアスレチックにも挑戦しました。いかだでは、子どもたち三人が力を合わせて、何度も回して遊びました。

 三日目は、一緒に過ごした三日間を思い出しながら、全員で一つのものを作りました。 子どもたちやスタッフが、大きさや形も様々な、色とりどりの手のスタンプを(大きな紙に)押しました。スタンプの間には、この三日間で一緒に見たものの絵や折り紙がいっぱいに貼られ、笑顔になれる思い出が、ぎゅっとつまった作品を一緒に作ることができました。体調不良でダウンしていた中学生も合流でき、本当に嬉しい三日目となりました。

 同室では五歳以下の数名の託児が行われました。子どもを送り出してくださったイエス様に、教会に、家族に感謝です。
(奥羽教区報No.325より)

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