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Theme: Seeking Christ's Peace
Leader: (Matthew 5:9) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (New Revised Standard Version)

Call to Worship
Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ACWC together. Since then, we have taken a new step forward. Today, we are gathered together to seek the peace of Jesus Christ. Let us unite our hearts in this message from Japan and use this time to worship the name of the Lord, to sing praises, and to pray together.
Peace! Men and women, young and old, people throughout the world are seeking peace. In the Lord, we know Christ, the Lord of Peace, who gives us true and solid peace, not like bubbles that just pop and disappear. It is this Christ who releases us from sin and gives us true freedom. We receive true rest in God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are able to receive Christ’s peace.
The previous world war shook all people throughout the world, many lives were taken, human rights ignored, and countries and people alike were severely damaged. Time has passed. However, even in the peace that we can see today there are still many people in various places throughout the world suffering because of war. Even now, right here near us, there are people who are still dealing with many problems of the postwar era. Each one of us, having received faith and wisdom and strength from God to be sent as messengers of peace, is desirous of moving forward.

Hymn: 19 Great God Our Source

The Testimony of Suzuko Numata
Suzuko Numata is a Hiroshima storyteller. Let us listen to her testimony.
I was 21 at that time and full of joy, because my fiancé was back home on leave from the war, and in 2-3 days we were to celebrate our wedding.
August 6, 1945. Just as I was about to go downstairs after finishing the usual morning cleaning where I worked, a beautiful light - blue, red, green, yellow, orange - all these colors spread out in front of my eyes. It was the flash of the atomic bomb. The violent wind blew me about like a leaf in a gust of wind. In the midst of this raging torrent of desks and chairs, I was crushed under the rubble.
When I regained consciousness, I was told that only 3 cm of skin remained where my left foot had been severed at the ankle and that I was bleeding from the wound. Like many other injured people, my foot was left untreated, and as a result, two days later became gangrenous up to the knee joint. When the doctor announced that my leg would have to be amputated from the thigh, I cried defiantly, realizing that I would never again be able to work or get married. However, the people around me encouraged me to have the surgery by reminding me of the importance of the life that had been saved. For a long while, the leg that had been amputated hurt as if it were still there and caused me great suffering.
Moreover, at the end of the war I received the news that my fiancé had been killed in the war. The war took everything from me. If it had not been for the war, I would not have lost my leg, and my fiancé would not have died. Because of that despair and sadness, for two years I was unable to recover on my own.
Then one day my mother reproached me, and her words were the push I needed to begin living again and to learn to walk with a 4-kg artificial leg. I had already given up the idea of getting married, but making the best use of the dexterity left in my hands, I obtained a teaching certificate in home economics and was assigned to teach high school girls.
However, for 28 years I didn’t speak a word about my wartime experiences. I didn’t want to expose my scars in front of everyone. Then appearing in an American documentary pushed me into giving my testimony and becoming active in the peace movement. I was given this chance to regain my life through someone who had become a storyteller before me. For 20 years now in front of student groups who come to Hiroshima I have continued to testify to the importance of peace, to the horrors of the atomic bomb, and to the misery caused by war.
Furthermore, making a peace pilgrimage to Okinawa on crutches gave me the chance to come face to face with the problem of the wrongs Japan had committed during the war. It made me think about the fact that there were tragedies no one had told me about and tragedies I didn’t know anything about that had led to the war. Through meeting and listening to the testimony of people there, I heard the cry for life itself. I encountered Korea through Korean atomic bomb survivors. I encountered China with its history of invasion and massacre, and Malaysia where civilians were also massacred. Through these journeys, I became aware of myself as one of the Japanese perpetrators of the war, and as a result of this unbearable feeling I apologized to them and have been able to continue this kind of exchange ever since.
One sister from China had survived 37 sword wounds all over her body, which had resulted in a miscarriage. While stroking each other’s scars, we talked about how we wanted to let as many people as possible know how we got those scars.
By looking hard at both the wrongs done and the damage inflicted and through our experiences of telling the truth about history to succeeding generations, we must educate a generation to believe “we can’t allow this mistake ever to happen again.”
For humanity to continue to live happily, as my small personal campaign I am appealing to everyone to oppose war, nuclear weapons, discrimination, environmental pollution and the destruction of nature. My testimony is only one small seed of peace. I am planting many seeds, so please water them well. For this beautiful earth and for a wonderful future, let us all join to cultivate those seeds so that they will become big and strong.
[extracted from Chikahiro Hiroiwa, Aogiri no shita de (Beneath the Chinese Parasol Tree), Akashi Shoten, 1993]

Hymn:25 For the healing of the nations

Prayer of Confession
Lord of love and peace, for the fact that when the war was over we focused only on our own suffering,
People: Forgive us, oh Lord.
Leader: For the fact that we have lived without noticing that we also had committed wrongs,
People: Forgive us, oh Lord.
Leader: Even now, we want only our own abundance, and we shut our eyes to the poverty and suffering of the people around us. For all this and for our indifference to injustice and brutality,
Forgive us, oh Lord.
For the fact that we embrace feelings without love towards our neighbors, that we are prejudiced and discriminate against people whose circumstances differ from ours,
People: Forgive us, oh Lord.
Instead, make us poor. The wisdom and spirituality to live together with those who are suffering,
Give us, oh Lord.
The joy of the suffering and resurrection shown us through Jesus Christ,
People: Let all experience together, oh Lord.

Scripture Lesson (Ephesians 2:14-18):
“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (New Revised Standard Version)

Short Message (Delivered by Local Committee)

Hymn Our Hope

Leader: Even now, the causes of war have not been eliminated from the world.
As a country that has experienced the effects of the atomic bomb, we can tell the people of the world of our deep sadness and ask that you would lead us to be able to walk the path of true peace.
People: Lord, give us your peace.
Leader: At the same time, we remember the fact that we not only suffered, but that we also brought suffering. Grant that we may not seek to escape from this pain but rather to accept it as spiritual nourishment, and give us the courage to work for you.
People: Lord, fill our hearts with your love.
Leader: We are ever mindful of the joy that is ours because you have forgiven us, but we share the heart of those experiencing deep sadness now. Lead us that together we may be able to seek your peace.
People: Lead us, we pray.
Leader: Strengthen us as we seek to respect the diversity of different points of view and help us to be able to love each other and work with you.
People: Lord, lead us, we pray.

Prayer of Intercession
*Suggest lighting up a small candle in everyone’s hand and being silent for a few minutes to remember those who suffered seriously from the war. Or lay out or hang up a world map at the front. When doing the intercessory prayers, people go forth to the front and put a sticker (in the shape of heart) on the country that they would like to pray for.

1. Pray for the victims who suffered / were injured in the Lebanon War.
2. Pray for the landmine problem in Cambodia.
3. Pray for the cutting down of nuclear weapons in North Korea, India, and Pakistan.
4. Pray for peace between China and Taiwan. (More than 700 missiles set by China threaten Taiwan.)

Leader: We pray for all those who suffer because of war and destruction which arise from the deep sin of humanity. There is no end to the chain of hatred in the world. In the midst of this deep sorrow, give us light and courage. We pray for those who are unable to accept their own worth and who do not hear the voice of God saying to them, “You are precious in my sight” (Isaiah 43:4). May your love be preached, the love that desires that not even one of your creatures should perish, and through your love may true peace be established.

Offertory and Prayer

Sending Forth and Benediction
Wherever we are, send us forth so that we may all be used abundantly as messengers of Christ’s peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26) “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (New Revised Standard Version)
Liberator God, Jesus Christ, Lord of peace and hope, may the work of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us to help us bring about reconciliation.

All: Amen.

* This order of worship was prepared by the church women of Japan.


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