October 19, 2011
International Center Chapel Service
International Disaster Response Conference for Lutherans
Rev. Masahiro Ando, pastor, Japan Lutheran Church

Greetings from the Japan Lutheran Church. May the Lord guide you in your service to Him.

On March 11, we experienced something we’d never experienced before. I live in Tokyo, and even at my house there, things shook so hard I felt sick as if I were seasick. When it stopped shaking, I turned on the TV. The alarm warning of a tsunami was announced. Following the alarm, conditions in the affected areas were broadcast in real time. As you’ve already seen and know, the damage was severe.

It was the LCMS that contacted and reached out to us very quickly with the hand of support. I was very moved by their quick action. Then other Lutheran Churches in the world reached out and helped us as well. The Japan Lutheran Church received their support and established an organization to help those affected by the tsunami.

In the world, many different types of countries can be observed. But when disaster occurred for us, it was not the earthly-established countries that acted quickly in the time of emergency. The people who reached out a hand of support were the people who belong to the kingdom of God.

Members of the Lutheran Churches, in the States and all over the world, stood by us immediately as neighbors in the Lord in the true sense. Through this disaster, we realized that we are truly connected in the Lord to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Matt. 22:21 reads, “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

We are apt to read this Bible passage as though it were telling us that being faithful to this world and to the Kingdom of God are two distinctly different obligations—that there is a distinction to these duties.

If our attitude towards earthly government is outside the framework of our faith, we will think matters on earth and those of God’s Kingdom to be distinct from each other. However, our life in Christ is lived in both realms simultaneously. We each have our specific country and city that we live in as well as a specific place where we make our livelihood. It is God that has made these specific places and times that we live in. In the midst of living this life, we also live in a relationship with God that goes beyond place and time.

We live by Christ’s salvation. By the grace and blessing of Christ, it is our calling as people of God’s Kingdom to serve others who are affected by disaster and to help raise them up from difficulty.

“Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus speaks from the standpoint where He doesn’t belong either to the Roman Empire or the Jewish temple. Not belonging to either side means you can belong to both sides.

God’s dominion is over everything. We are not made to have two separate nationalities that are distinct between God and this world.

Our nationality is of God’s kingdom. I thank God that we have been able to experience, in the midst of disaster, that we belong to God’s Kingdom. And to experience that many people who belong to God have supported us as neighbors living in this world.