Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Setsubun February 3rd. Casting out demons day with beans

This is way too long if you just do the first sentence you will be fine and not need to read any of my ramblings. below.
Pray and seek the Holy Spirit in all this. Don't do what I say but what the Lord says.

Setsubun (節分?, Bean-Throwing Festival or Bean-Throwing Ceremony) is the day before the beginning of each season in Japan.[1][2] The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun (立春) celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the Spring Festival (春祭 haru matsuri?). In its association with the Lunar New Year, Spring Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year's Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き, lit. bean throwing).

Mamemaki (Bean-Throwing) is usually performed by the toshiotoko (年男) of the household (i.e., the male who was born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac), or else the male head of the household. Roasted soybeans (called fuku mame (福豆?)) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the throwers chant "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (鬼は外! 福は内!).[3] The words roughly translate to "Demons out! Luck in!" The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life, and in some areas, one for each year of one's life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.[4]

This is my opinion open for criticism:

 I received and email from a Christian Mom here in Japan with concerns about this event and her families participation. I am not an authority on this but as I seek the Lord I have shared my convictions.

setsubun the mame throwing tradition of scaring out the demons from the house? We don't do it. Our kids were at school where they were to do it. We have taught them what the tradition means and why we don't participate. We openly told the teachers and Kochou sensei that we are Christians and we don't participate in that. Jane our youngest at Yochien just walked by the mochi in a school ceremony and didn't bow or clap her hands. She openly told her teachers that is not God. Now we are very American in our cultural influence. But our desire here is to live as a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven. What is citizen behavior to look like. If a person who has died and gone to heaven and seen the golden streets and Jesus and millions of saints what would they act like if they came back to this earth? Would those citizens of heaven try to be culturally correct and bow to gods out of respect for the citizens? Would they throw mame to make Obaa chan happy? Somehow I understand the scripture says that we are not to participate in any of that no matter how silly it is. At the risk of being labeled legalistic here I have to guard against syncretism that permeates this culture.

Is it okay to do both? The Japanese can do these things and attend church and see it as okay. The Christian on the other hand is by the Scriptural stand point to be in the world but not of the world. The missiologists of the day are telling us to like Hudson Taylor become one with the culture and dress like it and appropriate it and join it then share the gospel. I feel like a virus in this. I am to infect the culture by infiltrating it and spreading the germs. The problem with this model to me is the result is the host gets sick and dies and the virus dies with it. The Bible shows God's way as narrow road that is lonely and marked with lots of struggle. We are to in many ways parallel the culture with our heavenly grace culture and be there in these things not condemning them but being ready to give an account as to why we don't do these things. Some may not approve here but as I work out this still developing mission this is how we are living at the present.  We this last year pulled our kids out of public school and put them in Grace Christian International School because of the Culture teachings. It was becoming evident that the education system here wasn't as much about appropriating knowledge for maturing and living and making right choices as it was about what it means to be Japanese. We saw a government agenda to indoctrinate the minds of the youth into the Japanese Kingdom thinking.  They don't want God or the Bible but they teach Buddhism and Shintoism openly and unashamedly. They purposely seek to use demonic terror to scare the kids into good behavior. The demon creature chases the kids in some events and tells them to obey their parents and terrorizes the kids making them cry. I don't find this funny or wise at all.

There are two types of Christian groups I see here. One joins everything and the kids participate in all school events and they allow the kids to do everything and later explain the good and bad to the kids but the culture around them sees them as one with them. Somehow at some point they then share who they are and what they are doing and it is usually shocking and unnerving for people. Just my point of view. Some may be accepting. There is fruit in this model unto salvation and it takes a long time to build trusting relationships that may or may not last when evangelism begins.

The second model comes in and tells everyone openly who they are why they are here and is very open in explaining things. I have seen more fruit from this model as the word of God is being honored and those who are interested desire to build the relationship based on seeking knowledge of the Bible and the Lord. There are tons of people who resent this and hate this. But My ministry here...My Call here is to seek out those that are called by God to come out of the darkness and into his glorious light. I am open to share with all and desire that all come to repentance. I am not Japanese nor am I called to become Japanese. I am a citizen of heaven ministering God's grace and truth to those living in sin and darkness. Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. This is Jesus' words to the Apostle Paul.

Has this commission changed? Has the gospel lost its power to transform? Have Christians been sold a lie from the enemy to neuter them and make them of no affect on the culture? Do I want to stand before God some day and as the scenes of my life are displayed for all in heaven to see that I came to Japan and participated in all these dark cute pagan things and sowed very little gospel seed? I shutter at the thought. God give us grace to give grace to this culture and love them into the kingdom but I can't allow my family to do these things so that people won't get mad. How mad are they going to be for all eternity when they are lost because someone didn't stand. It won't be easy and it will be very hard and the meanness of people can be overwhelming.

Also you need to pray because your kids are the ones growing up here in Japan. Will they have to endure hardship because of Mom and Dads' faith? YES! They will ultimately make their own decisions later on but you build a solid foundation for them and when they are old they will not depart from it. If I compromise the Kids faith foundations what do they have to stand on.

At this point I am at risk for telling you how to behave when you should be listening to the Holy Spirit and draw from Him and the Word of God how you should live.  Pray and obey. I am sure the Lord has already spoken to you but one may question the narrow way as being too narrow and hard. You know what to do already but are wondering if there is some other way. Jesus said it best, "Father if there be some other way but never the less not my will be done but thy will be done." God bless.

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