Pastoral Report for 2020
Vision for 2021
CAN AGM February 7th, 2021
Rev. Shihoko Warren
AGM 2020, we were reinforced by a vision to take part in Christ’s mission: to “build a spiritual house”, as “we are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:1-9).
In 2020, the Church of All Nations faced 2 major challenges: the COVID 19 pandemic and the absence of our priest-in-charge due to her health issues. These situations actually gave us a perfect opportunity to live in our 2020 vision described in 1 Peter 2:1-9. We were called to step up as a ‘royal priesthood’ and to ‘build a spiritual house’ at each of our own homes during these challenging times.
Our in-person services were suspended due to COVID 19 since March 2020. Thus, we were encouraged to engage in ‘house church’ and ‘online’ services, as a ‘new norm’.
The absence of the priest-in-charge was also turned into God’s beautiful timing for our community members to reveal their own gifts and cultivate the gifts to ‘build up our spiritual community’! New Eden cooking ministry, food-catering ministry for the sick and the injured, Christmas outreach project for singles, seniors, widows, single parents, etc. were created in 2020.
We deeply miss our in-person services and fellowship, however, ‘online’ format enabled us to easily do Bible Studies, small group gatherings, attendance of other like-minded gatherings and conferences, etc., by saving time and energy normally spent on commuting. Online services have also brought a great joy to worship with our Nikkei Home seniors. It was difficult to share our Sunday services with them in-person, due to many logistical barriers, such as insurance, arranging transport for them, wheelchair accessible vehicles and facilities, as well as permission from their family members, etc. However, ‘online’ services have been such a joy for our community as we worship together with people from infant Emika to 100-year-old seniors!
For 2020, although we faced challenging situations, we give praise and thanksgiving to our faithful God, who “has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 –
This year, I would like to particularly emphasize 2 things: ‘consistency’ and ‘embodiment’ in our spiritual lives. COVID 19 and the new viral strains may continue to affect our lives throughout 2021. We must continue to ‘build Christ’s home’ as ‘a royal priesthood’. Let me remind all of you that you are the ‘priesthood’ for your family, friends, and the lost around you. You are the ones who initiate and reveal God’s love and glory to your neighbors! I strongly encourage you: Do not waste your time for self-pity and self-denial, as the Kingdom of God is already among us! God has given His faith, His gifts, His life for all of you! It is you who use these things to ‘embody’ the New Heaven and Earth!
The four Gospels often mention that “as was His custom”, Jesus worshipped at synagogues, gave thanksgiving to His Father, taught and healed people, and went to pray. It is indeed essential for us to make Christ’s way of living, ‘as is our custom’. We are called to ‘constantly’ worship, pray, serve God and the people around us. These lead us to the life described in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Our life in 2021 may continue to have challenging circumstances, however, may we give thanks in all circumstances! May we continue to worship and serve God and our neighbours around us, as ‘a royal priesthood’!
I also present 1 John 2: 1-6 for our community in 2021. It is so essential to ‘embody’ the love of God and the life of Christ in our actual lives. James 2:14-17 clearly and straightforwardly tells us: “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”. People can easily say superficially good words, but the truth is revealed only in our ‘embodied’ action and life.
May the year of 2021 be a year for our community to be more mature and “endure hardship as discipline, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves and God is treating you as His children” (Hebrews 12:5-7).
1 John 2:1-6:
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” Amen.