Last Sunday I went to the parish church again. Another sunny morning, more bells. Although I don’t go there often it feels like my home church in the UK. I arrived and sat in the same pew as the week before, behind Jill, Eddie and Norah. Eddie and Norah were in the kitchen, getting ready for the fellowship time after the service, so I chatted with Jill until they arrived.
The first hymn was wonderful, the words were by Brian Wren. The second and third verses were particularly lovely:
I come with Christians near and far to find, as all are fed, man’s true community of love in Christ’s communion bread.
As Christ breaks bread for men to share, each proud division ends. The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends.
The sermon was something that spoke to me, about welcoming the foreigner, the stranger. It’s something that I think about every week in Tokyo when others might visit us, and what I think about when I visit other churches. Later, at the Peace, someone said to me, you should teach us how to say it in Japanese! I told her how to say it, and she turned to the next person and said it to them. Somewhat perplexed, the recipient of the greeting said, what does that mean? I explained and added, the foreigner in the sermon? That’s me. Eddie heard me and said, you’re no stranger.
After the service I followed Eddie and Nora into the kitchen and helped with the tea and coffee and then the washing up afterwards. It was good to feel part of the regular rhythm of church life. When we had finished in the kitchen, it was time to say goodbye to everyone until December. Reverend Andy blessed me for my journey, we all hugged, and I left. For now.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.