My friend and Executive Presbyter, Rev. Dr. Steve Yamaguchi offers this challenging and hope-giving perspective on December 7. This is the first time that I have ever thought of the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor always falling during Advent. As a pastor under Steve's care, I am very often the beneficiary of his pastoral voice and prophet insight. Today I'd like to share that with you.
I hate this day in history. I hate what the military leaders of Japan did to murderously ambush so many at Pearl Harbor. I grieve for how it triggered so much hate and fear among Americans that some Americans would take others of their fellow citizens and, just because of their Japanese ancestry, put them in wretched prison camps for four years. Those internees included both my parents and all their siblings (plus all my grandparents who were not citizens). I recall friends in Japan who tell of their years of deprivation and terror and starvation. I grieve for the terror and warfare that afflicted the whole world. And I remember with sadness the post-WWII years of “jap-hating” during which I grew up as a young boy. I recall how I as an American born citizen was regularly condemned as “Made in Japan” – which was not a compliment in those days. So I hate Dec. 7 in history.
And yet, I am filled with thanks for the grace of God we receive in Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the love by which I am saved, and for the joy in which we can live. I give thanks to God for the Presbyterian Church in which I came to know Jesus. And I give thanks to God for you every time I think of you, for you are Christ’s very body for me and his instrument through which I so palpably enjoy the delicious fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” In a world filled with hate and fear and the evil that raised its ugly head on December 7, 1941, we who serve Christ have a Good News of love and hope for this world. While I hate the memory of December 7, I cherish the memory we celebrate on December 25. This I remember with joy and thanks and hope.