MEDITATION TIP —Fifth Sunday of Easter,
May 7, 2023

“Thus the word of God spread more and more, and the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and many of the priests also came to this faith.” (Acts 6:7)

 Today’s Acts begins with a story of complaints in the church, although the conclusion tells of the church’s growth. Whenever and wherever churches grow in numbers, a certain problem arises. That is conflict between groups. Even in the early church, there were two groups among the Jews, the Hebrew group and the Greek group, and in the beginning the disciples took care of the widows of both. Eventually, the Greek group complained against the Hebrew group over the daily distribution, saying that their widows were being neglected. The reason for this was that the disciples while preaching the word of God were taking care of the widows at the same time. Upon discussion, they decided to entrust Stephen and seven others to take care of the widows while the disciples devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word, and thus, the church grew. So, because problems arose, new ministries were created to solve them, and the church grew.

 This biblical story is especially applicable to the Japanese church today. As was the case with the early church, as the number of foreign believers increases, various problems arise due to differences in language and customs. However, we need to rejoice in our differences and use them as a hybrid engine for the car that is the church, rather than seeing them as a high hurdle to be overcome. We are not mere parts to each other, but we are to act as cat-alysts, empowering each other and bringing each other together. That is not a compromise. A compromise is one plus one becoming only 1.5. In other words, we started out wanting 2, but we both gave up what was important to us and settled for 1.5. But if we rejoice in our differences and make a hybrid of them, then 1 plus 1 becomes 8, 16, and even more.

 It is the same in nature and in life. Starting with marriage, it is the union of a man and a woman that gives birth to new life. It is also said that if two types of plants are planted next to each other, their roots will intermingle in the soil, fertilizing it and making the plants grow better than if only one type of them was planted. Furthermore, the human brain is divided into two parts: the right brain, which is intuitive, creative, and visual, and the left brain, which is logical and verbal, and by using these two parts, the whole brain can be utilized to its full potential. This is because life is not only based on logic, but half of it is based on emotion. For life must be a rich pasture made up of interactions between the heart and the intellect.

 To rejoice in this mutual difference and to make it a hybrid, we need prayer that discerns the voice of God. Luther said, “I have so much to do today that I must pray for at least an extra hour.” For him, prayer was not just a duty, but a missionary energy that built up and unleashed power within him.

      (Contributed by Father Akabae)