Saturday, October 05, 2013


Today’s coffee: I think I had a couple cups at the bazaar… and I think I had some with breakfast too…

Tired. Today was the church bazaar. It wasn’t really as long of a day as I thought it would be (9:00-4:00); the preparations took much longer (2 days). I think it was the preparations that took it all out of me. I made 5 different snacks: pickled beets, kabocha cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, zucchini cupcakes, lavender shortbread cookies, and mini-quiche. Conveniently it was Keith’s birthday on Thursday, so I made the kabocha cupcakes, Keith’s favourite, for his birthday. :)

My snacks. Do I look tired? I was.
Other than making snacks for sale, my role was to play cello for the guests as they were waiting to go in. I played 2 times through the Bach first suite and prelude of the 3rd suite as well as a couple of requests.

Serenading our guests. There was also a lot of interest in the vegetable table. Yes, this is Hokkaido.

The Wakaba Bazaar has been going on for many years, and it’s rather famous in the neighbourhood. It’s probably our church’s biggest event. It’s an opportunity for everyone to bring friends and neighbours into the church for the first time. When meetings started several months ago to plan and prepare for the bazaar, I noticed a major difference between Wakaba and the various churches I have attended in the US: everyone was expected to help out. Church members and staff, regular attenders, loosely connected family and friends, everyone. There was no escape. ;) I felt like I spent a lot of time today standing around doing nothing, actually. There were plenty of people helping. I suppose just being there and being together was important, even if I felt a little useless.

Setting up the cake table. (Don't you wish you had come?)
Okazu Corner--savory snacks (on the left is Yoko, our landlady)
Bagels, with instructions for how to eat them. We will be having these for breakfast tomorrow.
Keith was in charge for games for kids. (The pastor's daughters made the fish.)
I suppose being able to divide responsibilities is a luxury of a much larger church than Wakaba; on any given Sunday, there are about 35 people at church. And yet even in a much larger church in Japan, I wonder if in the same way, full participation would be expected at a major church event. In the West, we tend to value the individual over the group, whereas in Japan, the group tends to be valued over the individual.

A few weeks ago at the fujinkai (women’s meeting), we spent most of the time discussing how to invite participation from a few members who rarely come or who don’t stay for coffee or lunch or meetings after the service. If everyone isn’t participating, it seems like there’s a sense of unease even among the central members. I’m not sure I understand completely; for me, sometimes “trying to include that socially-awkward person” unfortunately feels more like an obligation—something good Christians are supposed to do—than restoring that person to his or her place in the Church, God’s family, and thus bearing witness to God’s glory through our unity and love for one another. Maybe this is a lesson I need to learn from my Japanese sisters.

This isn’t easy; sometimes people struggle to participate in the manner expected of them. Perhaps those members who were the subject of conversation at the fujinkai need to be allowed to participate on their own terms, although I'm not sure what that would look like. I think here in Japan there are a lot of expectations which are difficult to fulfill, in the church as well as in society in general. I pray that in Japan, the church will be a place where anyone and everyone can find a home.

No comments: