President's New Year's Service Address


Junko Hibiya

President's New Year's Service Address

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you were able to greet the new year in good fashion and I hope I may be able to call on you for your support again in the coming year.

Yesterday, the sixth of January, marked the holiday of Epiphany, which celebrates the manifestation of the savior among men and the appearance to all men of the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Together with "the visitation of the magi to the baby Jesus," "the baptism of Jesus" and "the miracle at the wedding at Cana," the manifestation of the savior has been celebrated since the time of early Christians.

People at the time of Christ's birth used the stars to tell their futures, and so it is said that, for them, the sudden appearance of a bright star in the night sky portended something special. The magi regarded the star, came to know of the birth of the King of Jews, and departed from their Eastern lands. When Herod, known for his treachery and suspicion, heard of this he was troubled and as King of Judea ordered the death of all infants.

The magi followed the star and, arriving in Bethlehem, opened their treasure chests. As stated in the Old Testament, they offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh: gold, a gift for a king; frankincense, a gift for a priest; and myrrh, a gift for the dead. These gifts heralded that this child of the mother Mary would be king of all men on earth, would be a priest who opened a path for all men to find the lord, and be savior who would die to redeem all men. Although the New Testament tells us there were multiple magi, it does not say exactly how many there were, but since there were three gifts it is believed there were three magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. In artistic representations they have been depicted as young men, old white-haired men, and as black men. We can say this implies that whether young or old, native or foreign, the light of salvation extends throughout the world.

Well, as you know, ICU is conducting its "60th Anniversary Project" over the five-year period from 2011 to 2015 and this year is the central year of that project. Through deep reflection after the Second World War, ICU was founded with the mission of cultivating superlative individuals who can contribute to the development of peace in the world. Amid the devastation following the war, fundraising activities were held in the US and Japan and through gifts from countless donors the land for this campus was purchased in 1950, in 1952 a language institute was established, and in 1953 the first incoming class of students was welcomed. On April twenty-ninth of 1953, ICU held its first matriculation ceremony, where the incoming students were each individually introduced, gave their support for the university's regulations, and pledged to live according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students have now been taking this pledge unchanged for sixty years. The first university bulletin, for the years from 1953 to 1955, states the following as ICU's mission: "Founded through international cooperation, this new university seeks to vindicate the possibilities of a world community by realizing on its campus an international community that will be a laboratory in international culture and understanding."

The books "International Christian University: an Adventure in Christian Higher Education in Japan" and "Higher Education for Tomorrow: International Christian University and Postwar Japan" describe in detail the enthusiasm, work and prayers of the people who contributed to the first fifty years of ICU starting from the time when the university was just taking shape in those people's minds. A moment ago we read the beginning of chapter two of the Gospel of Matthew and learned of the light of God that illuminates a path and moves men's hearts. For the people who laid the cornerstone for ICU to continue from its founding until today, this light is the same as that experienced by the Magi of the East.

The philosophy behind the 60th Anniversary Project starts with a statement about "the increasing speed of globalization engendering an unprecedented transformative process throughout the world." At my inauguration on April sixth I said that "many difficulties lie in store for us" and that "surely, it is through hardship that those who study and work at ICU will find peace." The slogan of ICU's Anniversary Project is "Creating the Next 60 Years." In difficulties, ICU's next sixty years may be equal to or even exceed its first years. But let us not forget today's hymn: "Sun of our life, thy quickening ray sheds on our path the glow of day; star of our hope, thy softened light cheers the long watches of the night." As these words express, even in darkness, I hope to work together with you all to find the light that guides our way.

In closing, I offer a word in prayer.

Our Lord, who is the light of all people, on the day of Epiphany, You revealed the savior Jesus Christ to the people of all nations through the light of a guiding star. We, who walk by the light of faith, ask that you guide us to the day when we return to you. This we pray in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.