Christmas is all about Santa. Santa, christmas trees, shopping, lights, tinsel, strawberry sponge cake … well, that’s what it’s all about for most people in Japan.
In some ways, it’s an encouragement that Christmas is well-known in Japan, even though when it falls on a week day, everyone still has to go to work. In other ways, it’s an indictment on the West – that this is the message of Christmas that Japan has picked up from the West. Most people here think that Christmas is Santa’s birthday.
But it does provide opportunities to put on Christmas events to invite people too.
We’re down in Ichikawa (near Tokyo) with my parents for our Christmas break and we were able to go to the Christmas events that were put on by the Chapel of Adoration, the church my parents attend. On the Sunday before Christmas there was a lunch put on and games and performances from different groups in the church.
It was a wonderful event. There were performances from men and women of all different age brackets, from the young children, to teens, to the ‘Dads Band’. It was a great example of what church should be like, with people of all ages contributing and getting involved. There were many visitors too, who were able to hear the real message of Christmas – the birth of our Saviour, King Jesus, the one whom the wise men fell on their faces to worship.
Sadly, this church is unusual in Japan for its size, number of men, and range of ages represented.
For Christmas dinner, my mum cooked for 16 of us! (Way to go, Ma!) There was us, my parents, Anna’s sister who was visiting us for a few days over Christmas before traveling to Hong Kong, 2 single female missionaries, and several young Japanese singles, most of whom were the only Christians in their family.
In the evening, we watched a film called The Nativity Story by New Line Cinema. I was impressed with how well it portrayed what it could well have been like – the awkward shame of a virgin pregnancy, the hard and dangerous journey to Bethlehem, the paranoia and cruelty of King Herod, the wonder and yet obedience of Mary and Joseph, their surprise when their ‘maternity ward’ is visited by awestruck shepherds and bowing wise men. I recommend it!
May many more in Japan come to this story, and more importantly, to know the One who Christmas is really about.
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