The church in Japan

Daily Reading for December 2 • Channing Moore Williams, Missionary Bishop in China and Japan, 1910

Since the last report an event unique in the history of the world has occurred, which is fraught with far-reaching consequences to Japan. On the 11th of February last the Emperor, in fulfilment of the promise made several years ago, gave a liberal constitution to the country. . . . One article of the constitution materially affects us, as a Church having a mission in the country. The 27th article declares that “Japanese subjects . . . shall enjoy freedom of religious belief.” This is but another way of stating that Christianity is henceforward tolerated. For there has been no question of the toleration of Buddhism and Shintoism—the only other religions which can possibly make any efforts at propagation here. This may be considered almost as an invitation to Christians to put forth their strength to spread the religion of Christ in this “Land of the Rising Sun,” and Christians of many names and divers beliefs—from Greek and Roman on the one side to Quakers and Unitarians on the other—are crowding into the country. There were at the end of last year 443 Protestant missionaries, of whom 150 were married men, twenty-seven unmarried, and 124 unmarried women. The Roman Church had two Bishops, eighty Priests, and forty sisters. The Greek Church was represented by one Bishop and two Priests. Our Church has only nine married men, two unmarried, and nine unmarried women—in all only twenty-nine missionaries.

Our Church must settle what part she is to take in the great work of bringing the people of this interesting country to the knowledge of and faith in the Lord Jesus; and what she determines to do must be done without delay. She cannot think that she has, in any sense, come up to the measure of her responsibility. For the truth is the mission has been sadly undermanned from its commencement to the present; and the fact is especially apparent at this time when, by the new treaties, the whole country is to be thrown open to our missionaries to travel and reside where they may please, without restrictions of any kind.

From Bishop Williams’s 1889 annual report, quoted in An Historical Sketch of the Japan Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., third edition (New York: The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, 1891).

Waiting is something we do a lot: waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the baby to be born, waiting for someone to come home. Children checking their calendars, “How many days ’til Christmas?”—they’re waiting. . . . And yes, the people of God wait, too. But we, O most fortunate ones, wait for joy; wait for the wolf to accompany the lamb; wait, hearts filled with laughter; wait to bear witness to the light. And we do not wait in vain. by the very power of our expectation, but our very faith, our willing welcome, we assist in the annual birth of love, of hope, of innocence.

This Advent, let us wait well, in faith, in hope, and in sympathy with one another—for together, we wait for joy!

From a “Meditation on Advent” by Barbara Deane Price, quoted in Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated edited by Elizabeth Rankin Geitz, Marjorie A. Burke, and Ann Smith. Copyright © 2000. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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