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NEWS

2014 New Year's Service

Update:January.6.2014

President Junko Hibiya addressed those gathered at ICU's 2014 New Year's Service in the morning of 6 January.

In her address, the president touched on the great hopes students have and on the experience of studying at ICU: "For the educational and general staff here it is our duty to help those students find their individual mission and cultivate the gifts God granted them. In the words of the hymn we sang together, I hope that together in the coming year we can again, day by day, meet the demands of this work, 'ringing out the darkness of the land, ringing in the Christ that is to be.'"

Full text of President Hibiya's address

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my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning. (Psalm 130:6)
 
Happy new year. I hope this will be an auspicious year for you all. Please allow me to ask you to give your support to ICU in the coming year, as you have generously done in the past.

Last year was the first time for me to deliver a new year's greeting. The date for that service fell on January 7th. Since the previous day was Epiphany I touched on the opening verses of chapter two of the Gospel of Matthew and likened the laying of ICU's cornerstones when it was founded and the people who contributed to the university before us, on the one hand, to the three Magi of the East, walking ahead under the guidance of God's light, on the other. "Especially in times of darkness," I said, let us find a light to guide our way.

Today is January 6th a new year's greeting on the day of Epiphany and this year, too, I would like to take the idea of light as our theme.

Last year was a landmark year for ICU. The university was founded in 1953, meaning 60 years have passed since the university welcomed its first class of students. For the world, for Asia, Japan, and ICU, it was not a year filled only with wonderful events.

In today's reading we heard that the believer's soul waits for the Lord. The author repeats himself: "more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning." Why does he wait for the Lord with such steadfastness I think it must be that he has unshakable hope and no doubt that the Lord will bring forgiveness, salvation and light. I hope that we too will enter the new year with such resolute conviction and maintain it throughout the year.

ICU celebrated a homecoming event on November 2nd last year. This was held during the ICU Festival as part of our 60th Anniversary Project. In the special alumni lectures during homecoming it was possible to see the faces of many generations, from graduates of the early so-called "single digit classes" to relatively recent graduates. Among the three lectures was one on "Situating ICU in Modern Japanese History" led by Professor William Steele, one of the 60th Anniversary Professors. While showing pictures from when the campus was a production center for Nakajima Aircraft, Professor Steele took Japanese-American relations as an entry point to look at a period in history from the time when the basic shape of the campus was determined up to the age of university unrest. There were fruits born out of discussion between alumni and the professors in each of these lectures, but in "Situating ICU in Modern Japanese History" we were blessed with the rare opportunity to hear stories from the members of the very first graduating class who were seated there in that classroom.

The campus where we study and work today was purchased in the wake of the devastation of the Second World War, a purchase made possible through donations received from countless individuals who participated in a fundraising campaign at the time in North America and Japan. Those first graduates of ICU experienced many difficulties during and after the war, but they came to know of ICU through the campaign and the university's mission statement and felt a strong resonance with its philosophy as a university founded with the aim of building a new Japan. Their stories brought to our eyes an image of hope that, even in the deep darkness, moved the hearts of young men and women with an expectation more than that of watchmen waiting for the morning; an image of students with an impressive desire to learn and turned with excitement to the faculty and staff as they applied themselves diligently to their studies and other activities.

Here we are now sixty years later. And, just like those first graduates, today's students come to ICU with great hopes and intentions for the future. For the educational and general staff here it is our duty to help those students find their individual mission and cultivate the gifts God granted them. I hope that together in the coming year we can again, day by day, meet the demands of this work, "ringing out the darkness of the land, ringing in the Christ that is to be."

In closing, I offer a word in prayer:

Our Lord Father in Heaven, on Epiphany and at all times You bring us light that transcends space and time. We ask that You watch over us so that we remain hopeful and go forward with the light of faith until the day we are together with You.

This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen.

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