Repentance as Life Together Across Divides
My last post was Ash Wednesday. This post comes, appropriately, after Easter, in resurrection time.
Last week in Nagasaki, Japan, we experienced powerful days at the 2nd annual Christian Forum for Reconciliation in Northeast Asia (major partners are Duke Divinity School, the Mennonite Central Committee, and Northeast Asia colleagues). Sixty Christian leaders gathered for five days from China mainland, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and U.S. We met in the 150th anniversary year of the discovery of Japan’s “hidden Christians,” and the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bomb drop and beginning of the divide of Korea. The video slideshow captures a time that moved from event, to journey, to pilgrimage—from chronos (watch) time to kairos (holy) time. The hymn “Until All Things Reconciled” (see words here) in the background was written by two leaders from the African Great Lakes Initiative we began 9 years ago; it gave me goosebumps to hear it sung by a Northeast Asia choir. We named a time of growing tensions in the region around territorial disputes and rising nationalist spirits (exhibit A: Obama support for alarming military reform by Japan prime minister Abe) and nationalist spirits rising. One Chinese participant proposed a character to describe this time of rising tension, bringing both “crisis” and “opportunity” together into one moment: The turning point was our pilgrimage day in Nagasaki engaging stories of pain and hope, sharing tears as we encountered stories of Japanese suffering from Christian persecution and atomic bomb, to Korean and Chinese suffering. One deep takeaway for me: repentance requires life together. Divided people need one another’s bodies for the pain and privilege and the spirits of the age to be extracted. And for Christians this means we also need the body of Christ at the center of that extraction.