Springtime is well into its appearance for 2010, the full moon showed last week, and today is Sunday: So it’s Easter! ( * )
The most convenient church for me is the Hatsudai Catholic Church, which is affiliated with the Bishop of Rome (known popularly as the Pope). So I have gone there in recent times. They are Japanese Christians who have built a substantial community in this part of Tokyo, and they always have a wonderful service.
I was brought up in the Roman Catholic tradition, and so I can feel comfortable in the environment, even if the Mass is in the language of the people, which has been the rule since Paul the Sixth in 1970. I don’t really understand everything that is being said, but I do understand everything that is being done.
(In this way, I am perhaps like the vast majority of baptized Roman Catholics of history, once Latin fell out of common usage and before the Mass of Paul Vi.)
The people there take steps to make everyone feel welcome. They seemed to be concerned that I didn’t have a place to sit. But that was okay, because I came there a little bit late. My main concern was not blocking anybody else’s view.
The older I get, the more varied I feel about the mysteries and phenomena of religion. Here is a denomination, and a rather dogmatic one if you take it literally, that exists amid a people who are really Easterners—far Easterners. They have beliefs that are strongly influenced by Buddhism and Shinto. Not Ki-ri-su-to. (Christ). And in fact, when the church established itself here, several hundred years ago, it did not do so without a certain amount of martyrdom and contempt from both governmental authority and the surrounding populace. Like a replay of the story of Pilate and the crowd.
I didn’t take communion, because I respect it enough to feel that I was not coming with a “clean heart”, and I haven’t quite made a confession to a religious figure in now what must amount to a couple decades. I have some concerns about the kind and amount of claims that the Bishop of Rome makes, (and that’s not even considering the recent troubling headlines. He runs a big, and imperfect church.)
But this is not the small community of worshippers along the Yamate Street. They seem to have made a wonderful Christian community among themselves, and I hope they grow and grow.
When you leave the Mass there on Easter, you are given a small gift, a hard-boiled egg, which is a symbol of birth and also one of the circle of life.
I thought about the community that let me in today, as I ate the egg.