Tokyo day 6: Church
After several days of non-stop walking and lots of time outdoors, today brought a significant change in routine, but several great conversations.
We started with worship at the mall where our host church usually meets (though this time we met in a movie theater instead of their usual space). The service was entirely bilingual, with alternating Japanese and English during the songs. The Lord's prayer was the only time everyone spoke their own language together.
I was really impressed to hear how the pastor, a U.S.-educated Japanese man, wove in the recent death of a Kabuki actor's wife as a sermon illustration. I've seen almost no newspapers this week, but early in the week, two of us did notice and discuss a photo related to the woman's death. It was really interesting to learn more about that event, and it very effectively illustrated the sermon.
After the service, I joined our pastor and one other man for a meeting with the church's missional community team. That discussion revealed a lot of common challenges for our two churches, as we both try to build community in busy urban settings. Once we ended, I continued talking with two of the women, who were interested in my book. We hope to have dinner tomorrow night with some other women.
Shortly after the team meeting, we all headed downstairs to the apartment building's community room for our last major event of the trip, a discussion about faith and science. (Due to its lack of a building, the church creatively uses a number of spaces in the neighborhood.)
Close to 30 people participated in the event, including most of our team and several people who identified as non Christian. The event spurred lots of discussion afterward; the last of us didn't leave until after 7.
Most of those who stayed to the end then continued on to dinner. All but one of our team, plus Grace Harbor's pastor and one other man, went to a really great ramen place I'd wanted to try -- probably my favorite food of the trip, so far. The other man in our group (who speaks fairly good Japanese) joined some Buddhist college students and a few folks from the church at an another restaurant.
Today yielded few pictures or new insights on Tokyo culture, but I had the best conversations so far. It really felt like things began to gel relationally for all of us. It will be interesting to see what God does between our two churches in the future.