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Chaplain's Message

An Easter Message from the chaplain: Resurrection - Restoration of Hope  

Dear Friends, 

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia! Today is Easter Day, which is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is also the season when we hear the friendly words “Happy Easter” spoken. It is a very gracious greeting. Yet, the truth is that we must be very careful when we say ‘Happy Easter” in this difficult time for fear of passing on COVID-19.   

On April 7th Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak in Japan, covering Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures. Following the declaration, governors in the designated areas are authorized to request residents to “stay at home” except for essential activities, such as grocery shopping. The US, Europe and the rest of the world are still battling a surging outbreak. As a result, the world is currently facing its deepest economic crisis since World War II. Furthermore, scientists across the world warn that life may never get back to normal until we have a safe and effective vaccine. It is in fact very difficult to predict how our lives will change. Indeed, we are facing times of despair, loneliness, uncertainty and yes a loss of hope. In these days of uncertainty and hopelessness, what does the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ mean to us? 

The resurrection is an important part of our Christian faith. Jesus came to this world bringing love, consolation, strength and courage to us all, to live a joyful life. He suffered for us because He loves us so much, despite our sometimes misgivings and sinfulness. Jesus rose up again to give us hope of renewal – a new life of hope, faith and love. As Peter said in the Acts of the Apostles, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him… They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear… All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:38-43). 

In turn, as faithful Christians, we should rise up for Jesus Christ and let Him love us – a love He so much wants to share. When we let that happen, it will make our lives tremendously different. With such a reflection on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are encouraged to believe in hope, for He does love us and He is with us. To rise up for Jesus Christ and thus let Him love us is a way of the restoration of hope in these days of uncertainty and hopelessness. He is in fact waiting for us. 

Happy Easter to you all! 

God bless, 

Simon, Port Chaplain The Mission to Seafarers Yokohama 

Concerning Our Ship Visiting 

Dear Friends,

We hope you are all keeping well. Three weeks ago, we had to make the decision to suspend our ship visiting until the end of March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Unfortunately, the case numbers of those becoming infected in the Tokyo Metropolitan area and its surrounding prefectures including the City of Yokohama are increasing each day, and the concerns for an “overshoot” of the number of cases could happen at any time. For that reason, citizens in the Tokyo Metropolitan area and its surrounding prefectures are being asked to refrain from going out or going to Tokyo except in the case of essential needs.

As a result, sadly, we have decided to extend our ship visiting suspension until April 15th. Regarding resuming our ship visiting, we will reassess it on April 15th based on future propagation. But we are still assisting seafarers that need help through digital chaplaincy which enables us to contact them in need via social media/internet. We are buying things from the city and bring it back to seafarers on board ships. Please contact us if you need any help.

Keep safe and healthy wherever you may be at this difficult time.

We very much look forward to seeing you again soon.

God bless you all

A Pastoral Message from the Chaplain Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Threat 

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all keeping well. Sadly, two weeks ago, we had to make the decision to suspend our ship visiting till the end of March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). But we are still available to assist any seafarer that needs help. We can go and buy things from the city and bring them back to you on board. Please contact us if you need any help.

The cherry blossoms’ transition from bud to bloom in Yokohama has just begun. But until now we don’t see improving transitions in the coronavirus threat. All day long we hear bad and sad news. The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th declared the coronavirus a pandemic. In line with WHO declaration, many countries have declared national emergencies to fight the coronavirus. As a result, panicked shoppers around the world have emptied grocery store shelves as fear of the coronavirus rises. The coronavirus pandemic is causing an economic pandemic. Many sports games and activities have been cancelled or suspended. Coronavirus fears also impact religious gatherings and practices across the world. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic is driving our lives into states of fear and anxiety.

Coronavirus and the fears it brings remind me of the gospel story (Mark 4:35-41) of the disciples riding through a rough storm, facing fear, and in their fear waking Jesus Christ up from a deep sleep. As you may recall, in this passage the seafarers face a deep fear when big waves come. The only thing they can do is to wait out the storm for the calm to return. We all live in fear. It is a part of our lives, and we need to have the courage to resist being overcome by our fears. The grace and courage to control fear comes from our Faith – our trust in God. Fear can in fact be the beginning of real faith for us. We cannot control the waves of fear, and they may seem to be too large to overcome. But with faith in the Lord, the storms will calm, and we will be able to “surf” the waves of fear rather than allow them to swallow us up.

Thus, in these days of fear and anxiety, let us keep our faith to surf the waves of the fear of the coronavirus. Let these words of Psalm (57:1) inspire us to keep the faith: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.”

Lastly, my thoughts and prayers are with all seafarers and their families who continue to suffer due to the coronavirus and I offer my sincere condolences to families who have lost loved ones due to this present pandemic.

Keep safe wherever you may be at this time.

I very much look forward to seeing you again soon.

God bless you all, 

Simon

Chaplain, The Mission to Seafarers Yokohama