日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2021 No.409】A Christmas Message


A Christmas Message

by Kondo Makoto, pastor

Sendai Kita Church, Tohoku District

Two months ago, at the church board meeting of Sendai Kita Church where I am serving, we talked about how to celebrate Christmas this year. Usually we invited people in our neighboring area to hold a Christmas service together. However, due to the spread of the Covid 19 virus, we had to suspend various meetings and adopted a plan to shorten the length of worship services. In Japan, the government did not mandate enforced “lockdowns,” so it was necessary for us to discuss what should be done. So we decided to hold a scaled-down Christmas service to protect the health of the people in our area.

We don’t know if our judgment is medically sound, so we have not put any pressure on other churches to follow the same pattern. Differences in the living conditions in various parts of the nation are the result of differences in infection rates. Some churches feel they have to continue with online worship services, while other churches send printed copies of the sermon to the congregation every week. I respect what each church has decided. On our road of pain and trial, I believe that God is always with us, supporting us and leading us.

While we are fighting against the menace of a virus we can’t see, I am hoping we can receive the meaning in the Gospel message of the story of Jesus’ birth that is applicable to the present situation. The uncertainty caused by the announcement suddenly given to Mary and Joseph during the period of their engagement as well as their poverty, which made them unable to find a place to stay in the last stages of pregnancy, reveals the current realities presented in any age. What makes Jesus’ birth good news is that God’s work of salvation, which is open to all the world, was manifested to shepherds and to Gentile scholars.

Christmas today is ensnared in commercialism. But in the midst of this pandemic, we are looking towards celebrating a simple Christmas. We will sing carols while wearing masks and singing in a soft voice, and perhaps shorten our time of prayer as well. It will be difficult to gather inside the church building to eat cake together and exchange presents. We have come to realize at this time that even from before the pandemic, for various reasons, there have been people in difficult situations for whom getting together, singing, and eating are also difficult.

Because we ourselves are in a weak position for the first time, we can now frequently recognize the pain of others, and I want to remember that God always sees the very weakest persons and places. The birth of the Savior Jesus Christ is a testimony that God’s love is real. It is my hope that this Christmas will be an event of special hope and joy, that whether our worship service is at the church or just online, we will use whatever means available to share with as many people as possible. May Christmas celebrations throughout the world be blessed. (Tr. RT)


近藤誠 仙台北教会牧師 






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