St. Luke’s Advent Message

Photo by Pixabay on

Dear Friends:

As we get older, each passing year seems routine; much repetition and few surprises. And yet, when we sit back, this passing year has brought us new changes and challenges.

Global competition escalates, among “old enemies,” not only economically and politically, but also increasingly militarily. Disarmament now seems an old dream. Geo-political realignment is real. Migrants and refugees continue to seek havens, not only for better opportunities but for survival. In reaction, many a country has closed its doors, proclaiming raw nationalism and isolationism as the best policy. Barbed wires have replaced welcome signs; armed guards succeeded welcome with open arms. The earth, our fragile island home, is showing alarming signs. Extreme climate changes are devastating our natural order, with torrential rain falls, fires that consume mountains; arctic centuries old arctic ice is melting, the sea level is rising, not just in Venice.

In 2019, we have observed the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the enslaved Africans in North America. The gulf between the rich and the poor is growing ever deeper and wider among nations and within them, including the United States. 1 % versus the rest Is all too real. Globalism seems to have been replaced by tribalism. “God helps those who help themselves” sounds a cruel slogan.

What, if anything, are we doing to combat these challenges? How do we envision a better place, a better time? Where do we find inspirations? How do we raise children so that they may aspire toward a better future for themselves and beyond?

Hope is always born of despair; light of darkness. The world has endured hardships, wars; nations once defeated emerged as champions of peace. Children, our own or not, are a source of tangible hope. We support them by sharing their hope. A sixteen-year-old Swedish school girl has become the voice of conscience, while adults continue to allow the environment to be devasted by our own greed and neglect.

Advent and Christmas are the season to renew our deepest hope, we begin anew. During Advent, we begin anew, while preparing for the coming of the Prince of Peace, born of parents who were refugees to escape from King Herod who was going to kill all children born in Judea, the poorest of the Provinces of the Roman Empire. Hope can triumph over despair; light overt darkness; love over hate, life over death.

Our children are thriving. John is an engineer west of Boston. He continues to live at home to spend all his earning on his car hobbies. Jamie graduated from Wellesley in May as a major in art history. After working briefly at MIT’s Media Lab, she is now working at MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston. Both love their work.

Nancy continues her study to become a trainer of new Montessori School teachers, who would work internationally. This year, she studied in Spain, England and Japan. She plans to go next to South Africa before concluding her training.

Jim continues his full-time teaching at Wellesley, while serving part-time as Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hudson, Massachusetts. He spent his sabbatical from the College in spring in Japan. He had planned to travel the country, especially to Nagasaki to continue his research on Takashi Paul Nagai, a radiologist and a hibakusha, a Roman Catholic convert and a pacifist. But he stayed in Tokyo to relish what it has become since he lived there as a boy. Tokyo is now a vibrant city, well managed, clean with many young people from all around the world, while preparing to host the Olympic Games next year. Crime rate in Tokyo is the lowest of all metropolises of the world. No guns on the street. Police officers carry them now after the Occupation Army told them to after the end of the World War II, but seldom used, except for practice.

As we usher in a new year, we bid farewell to the passing year with gratitude, rather than with remorse. The coming of the Prince of Peace at the year’s conclusion brings us the greatest hope for the reign of God who created us, forgives us and redeems us.

                                                              Love to you all, from Boston,

                                               Jamie, John, Nancy and Jim

We love St. Luke’s: Logan’s Story

This week, we would like to introduce you to Logan, a young man raised at St. Luke’s who currently serves as our treasurer. Logan will let us know what it means for him to be part of our faith community by answering just 4 simple questions…

St Luke’s: So, Logan, how long have you attended St. Luke’s?

Logan: I have been attending St. Luke’s for almost 37 years; since I was an infant.

St Luke’s: What makes St Luke’s such a special place for you?

Logan: It’s been the only constant in my life so it’s the place I truly call home.I grew up here celebrating most major milestones in my life.One of my most cherished memories was watching my grandparents exchange their wedding vows for their 40th wedding anniversary when I was six.My grandfather ended up passing away only days later.

St Luke’s: What do you wish more people knew about St Luke’s?

Logan: You don’t have to be super religious or have a strict set of beliefs. All you need to do is come and enjoy a loving community of people from all generations.Also that building that looks so interesting from the outside is really interesting on the inside as well!

St Luke’s: Last question, Logan: If you could choose just one word to describe St Luke’s, what would it be?

Logan: Resourceful!

You don't have to be super religious or have a strict set of beliefs. All you need to do is come and enjoy a loving community of people from all generations!

We Love St. Luke’s II

This week, we would like to introduce you to June, a long time member and avid supporter of our church. June will share her insight on what it means to be part of our faith community by answering just 4 simple questions…

St Luke’s is a family  that nourishes its members but also reaches out, as much as we are able, to feed and aid those to come to us for help

St Luke’s: So, June, how long have you attended St. Luke’s?

June: I first attended St. Luke’s when I moved to Hudson in 1983 … now thirty-six years ago. Being a “cradle” Episcopalian (baptized as an infant and brought up in the Church), it was natural for me to seek out the Episcopal church in my community. Back in 2004, I was able to become an active volunteer, serving on the Vestry and the Altar Guild and helping to coordinate our community suppers ever since …fifteen years of varied ministries.

St Luke’s: What makes St Luke’s such a special place for you?

June: St. Luke’s is special, first of all, because it is an Episcopal church in the Diocese of Massachusetts, a progressive presence in the national church, demonstrating leadership in social justice issues. I am very proud of this “brand” … our Church is a community where diversity is welcomed and celebrated and provides a worship space that honors tradition, reason and scripture. We are a catholic community … our liturgical roots go back to the early Christian church … and that is special indeed … Allowing for a continuity that centers us in Christ and not the Church as an institution. St. Luke’s is a family that nourishes its members but also reaches out, as much as we are able, to feed and aid those who come to us for help.

St Luke’s: What do you wish more people know about St Luke’s?

June: I wish people knew that we need their presence .. perhaps not on a regular or permanent basis, as that is an unrealistic commitment for many… but that their presence, as often as they are able to share it at worship or at our activities, is necessary for us to survive.

St Luke’s: What word woud you use to describe St Luke’s?

June: I would offer two words that describe St.. Luke’s at present … hopeful but struggling. 

St Luke’s: If you could choose just one word to describe St Luke’s, what would it be?

June: I would offer two words that describe St.. Luke’s at present … hopeful but struggling. 

We Love St. Luke’s

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a truly special place and we’re proud as peacocks of our Little Brick Church at the Rotary. So, we thought it would be fun to share personal stories from our very own parishioners about what makes St. Luke’s so dear to each and every one of us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring member stories so that you can get to know us and what makes this a great place to worship!

We would like to introduce you to one of our parishioners, Lisa, who is kicking off our weekly get-to-know us campaign! Each week, another member of St Luke’s Hudson will share their insight on what it means to be part of our faith community by answering just 4 simple questions…

St Luke’s: So, Lisa, how long have you attended St. Luke’s?

Lisa: I have been attending St. Luke’s for almost 10 years. Time goes by so quickly, it seems like just yesterday when I came for the first time!

St Luke’s: What makes St Luke’s such a special place for you?

Lisa: That’s an easy one for me. The people! We have just the most friendly, lovely, welcoming people in our church. They always make you feel like you are part of a big family. In a way, really, we are a family!

St Luke’s: What do you wish more people know about St Luke’s?

Lisa: I would say that I wish more people knew how open, diverse and welcoming we are. We have members from all different faith backgrounds, many different cultures and many different life experiences. And yet, we are one family! At our church, communion is open to all Baptised Christians so there is definitely a sense of unity and inclusion. We also respect different opinions and ideas and really love the strength that our diversity gives us. It’s just so great!

St Luke’s: Last question, Lisa: If you could choose just one word to describe St Luke’s, what would it be?

Lisa: Let me think on that a second. Oh, I know…welcoming! That, for me, sums up the St Luke’s experience. We love and welcome everyone and encourage people to come as they are to worship with us, to share in God’s love no matter the age, sex, color or anything else that may different about us.

From the Rector’s Desk 4th Week of Lent

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

I sit in front my computer in my apartment in Tokyo to share what I am doing while on sabbatical from the College and from the Church.

I arrived in Tokyo in late February, one day after my last homily and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at St. Luke’s. It was two days after I came back from New York City, where I attended the first meeting of the Board of Trustees at General Theological Seminary, an important position to which I was elected, unbeknownst to myself, at the General Convention in 2018. I found Japan’s capital city since the late 19th century no warmer than Boston; in fact, snow is falling and roads frozen, in the north. Tokyo, however offers so many exciting cultural and other opportunities. I am trying to go to at least one museum every week. I also try to savor local food, whenever I can. I am even managing to learn how to cook with fresh ingredients from the farms and the sea. The apartment, owned by Japan Women’s University, where I am giving a series of lectures in April, is centrally located and comfortable. The University was founded in 1901 by a Japanese Protestant minister. While studying theology in Boston, he visited Wellesley and decided to establish a women’s college like Wellesley, once he returned to Japan. It is a strong bond between the two schools. Over the years, several students came to Wellesley to study for a year. One of them is teaching American Studies; I will work with her later in April for a symposium on women’s education in the US and in Japan. It is always gratifying to see a former student, thriving in any she chooses.

As some of you know, my Nancy served as a missionary to the Anglican Church of Japan some thirty years ago. Her charge was to start a program to minister to the foreign women working in Japan in the “entertainment” business, which was a euphemism for what many now call “sex industry.” It was a demanding, sometimes dangerous, work for Nancy. For, these foreign women, many from the Philippines at that time, were controlled by the yakuza, Japan’s equivalent of the mafia. Nancy’s ability to speak their language and her commitment to peace and justice helped her work for five long years. The Anglican Church of Japan has only two parishes where English is the main language: one in Okinawa, where the majority of the parishioners are US military personnel, the other is St. Alban’s Church, located next to the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew in Tokyo. The parishioners come from many English-speaking countries, including those in Africa, South Asia, UK, Canada and US. They include diplomats, business executives, but also menial workers in restaurants and shops. The Rector, William Bulson, came six years ago from the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, where he served in a parish with many Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugees, who came to the US after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Yesterday, after the service, I spent the rest of the day with a Protestant minister who ministers to the incarcerated foreigners in Nagasaki. Many are Muslims, most “people of color.” Not many committed violent crimes; rather, they overstayed beyond what their visas allowed, or sold drugs in Japan. Japan has a very strict law against crimes of all sorts.  Laborers from the “Third World” are particularly vulnerable. With a steady decline in population, the population here is getting older and needier. In local markets and shops, as well as nursing homes employ people from Indonesia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Construction work that is everywhere as Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games rely heavily on foreign workers. With the encouragement of Father Bulson, St. Alban’s is reaching out to inmates in a prison for foreigners in Tokyo, modeled after the work of the minister in Nagasaki. St. Alban’s is doing Christ’s ministry. The church was established after the end of the World War II, when Douglas MacArthur and other Allied soldiers came to help Japan recover from the war. Since then, the church has flourished.

Today, April first, is a very important day in Japan. In preparation for the current Emperor’s abdication on the last day of April and of the Crown Prince’s enthronement on the first day of May, the Japanese government chose the name of the new era, which will begin on the day of the Enthronement. Starting in the 7th century, 645 to be exact, each time a new emperor was enthroned, Japan entered into a new imperial era with a new name. The current Emperor, Akihito, has reigned for 30 years now during the Heisei period. Heisei means: “lasting peace.” The imperial reign in Japan is “symbolic.” The Constitution states that the Emperor is the “symbol” of the history and the people of Japan, with no influence on politics. With the advice of nine leaders, chosen from the legal, media and academic sectors, the government chose Reiwa (令和) as the name of the new era. For over a millennium, the imperial era was chosen from the Classics of China, just as many European countries returned to the Greek and Roman precedents. This time, the Japanese chose this word from Japan’s oldest anthology of poems, Manyōshū, “Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves,” “leaves” meaning “words”. The first character, rei, means in Chinese “to decree,” as decreeing an ordinance, edict or law. In Japanese, it means something like “exquisite,” “beautiful” or “graceful.” The second character, wa, is “peace” or “harmony,” but also an alternative word for Japan. According to the Prime Minister, the choice of the new name was inspired by a desire for a peaceful era, when the people would treasure and honor that which is graceful. It is a very poetic choice.

In spite of many negative, even malicious, images associated with the Emperor of Japan, the last two Emperors have been much beloved. As “symbolic emperors,” they have no say in the government, or the military. They unify and comfort the people, especially during crises. When a huge earthquake struck the part of Japan where I grew up, Emperor Akihito and the Empress came to comfort the people who lost their loved ones. When the nuclear plant exploded, when a huge tidal wave struck Fukushima, to the north of Tokyo, they went there to visit with the victims. The current Empress grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Tokyo. The current Crown Princess, soon to be the next Empress, was also a commoner. She graduated from Belmont High School in Massachusetts, when her father was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. From there, she went to Harvard and then to Oxford to become a diplomat for Japan. Because she was a commoner, to say nothing about her American upbringing and education, many conservative people objected to the marriage. But, in spite of her apparent poor health, Princess Masako came to be as beloved as the Crown Prince Naruhito, who is now 59 years old.

In mid-April, I will be traveling to San Diego to give a paper at an academic conference. I will return to Tokyo to continue my research and writing. I will return home to Boston on May 12 for the next meeting of the General Seminary Board of Trustees, followed by our daughter’s college graduation, and then by the 50th reunion of my undergraduate college. I may return to Japan in July for a few weeks, but it will depend on my research and writing, as well as funds.

Every Sunday when I worship at St. Alban’s Anglican/Episcopal Church in Tokyo, I thin of you all and pray for all of you. This is the time when we remember how Christ suffered for the redemption of the whole world. At the end of Lent comes Palm Sunday, when we repeat “Crucify him, crucify him.” God in Christ still loves us all. With that forgiveness, we can celebrate on Easter the Resurrection of Christ so that we, too, may rise from death, from hatred, from despair. Thanks be to God.

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with each and every one of you on this day and the days and weeks to come.
Father Jim+,
Writing from Tokyo, Japan