A Columban Stained Glass Window
Columban history in the Japan mission is behind this stained glass window of the Risen Christ. In 1979, the architect of the new headquarters for the then almost 100 Columbans in Japan commissioned stained glass artist Hideo Matsuda to create Stations of the Cross for the new chapel. Hideo Matsuda has just returned from France and this was his first work in Japan. He has become well known since. The fourteen depictions of Jesus' painful journey were simple, full of meaning and color. They concluded with a fifteenth scene – the Risen Lord.
The Resurrection means that Jesus is alive and with us now. Jesus grips our hands and walks the path of life with us. We are never alone.
Our Columban numbers in Japan decreased from a peak of 99 to eleven in 2017. Our central house was too large and demanded costly repairs. So we shifted to new Tokyo headquarters using an unused rectory which we re-conditioned. The stained glass works are now incorporated into this converted house and its small chapel. But there was a problem! The square window shape of the Risen Christ was too difficult to insert. So now it graces the entrance to Shinkoyasu Church in Yokohama where I am pastor. At dusk an automatic inside spotlight comes on and those passing by in the street can see it clearly.
Let us look at the artist's work. The central figure is the Risen Lord. But notice also the outline figures of a woman (left) and man (right). Jesus grips their hands and is walking with them. Those unfilled outlines are you and me! The Resurrection means that Jesus is alive and with us now. Jesus grips our hands and walks the path of life with us. We are never alone. In a living voice the Risen Lord says to each one of us: "Fear not! I am with you." These living, encouraging words of Jesus always have an eternal present tense.
Jesus being with us as our companion on life's journey is a major emphasis in Shusaku Endo's three books on the life of Jesus. Over and over again Endo uses the Japanese word "dohansha" – one who travels a journey with us. This aspect especially appeals to Japanese Christians. May it flavor the lives of all of us wherever we live.
Columban Fr. Barry Cairns lives and works in Japan.