2021 New Year Chapel Hour
Update: January 7, 2021
The 2021 New Year Chapel Hour was held at the university chapel on January 6 (Wed).
The service conducted by Rev. Shoko Kitanaka began with a chorus of Hymn "O Jesus, I Have Promised" by all those in attendance, and continued with a Scripture Reading of Matthew 5:1-10.
Following the Scripture Reading, President Shoichiro Iwakiri delivered his message.
Full text of President Iwakiri's message is below.
Happy New Year.
Last year, the unexpected pandemic from early spring made the world suffer both economically and socially. ICU also had several issues to tackle, but we were able to confront them with God's blessings, the help of all faculties, staff, students, and alumni. Even the situation remains severe, let's spend our days with hope at such times.
This new year, I believe some of you have written something on the first page of your new diary.
More than 400 years ago. René Descartes started writing a sentence in a "small parchment notebook," with the date January 1st, 1619. At that time in Europe, the Thirty Years' War broke out, which caused widespread devastation in the areas involved. Descartes' notebook had memos with several titles, and one of them was "Olympica." In "Olympica," it was written that Descartes shut himself in a room with a stove in winter in Ulm, Germany, and found out a new philosophy on the night of November 10th. This notebook got lost, and there are only records by biographers left.
After 20 years, in 1637, "Discourse on the Method," was published, which has the famous quote "I think, therefore I am". It says that he was working on "The World" ─which included a theory that incorporated Heliocentrism─ but then gave up publishing. At that time, Galileo faced inquisition because of proposing Heliocentrism which made Descartes hesitated to publish his work.
The confrontation between religious authority and scientific truth. We have also witnessed that similar conflicts can easily emerge these days by the government and academic truth.
After about 30 years, it is a famous story that Newton found the law of universal gravitation after he left London and went to the countryside when the plague emerged.
Even in unquiet times, and even under the spread of disease, humans' intelligence work nonstop, and things found there show us a sure and general way of research even after a long period of time. We would also like to aspire to find the truth in our way and find something certain in our lives.
We are currently fighting with COVID-19. The Olympics is planned to be held in Japan. Initially, the purpose was to "appeal to the world that Japan had recovered from the Great East Japan earthquake", but now it has changed to "the proof that human beings defeated the infection". I feel that heroism against infection is a little exaggerated as a triumphant song for human beings to cite in the Olympics.
Can we not live a little more humbly? There are world leaders who show high-pressure and self-righteous attitudes almost strangely, but shouldn't we choose a path to live together with friendly happiness and humor, without fake heroism?
Any infection has settled as time passed. If we will repeat the same history, COVID-19 would eventually settle as well. Then, as we take one new step, I hope it would reconfirm and affirm the taken for granted way of human beings; that humans understand others and themselves more and grow up by sharing the same space, time, and experience.
I pray that this year would be a good year for both ICU and the world.
In the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.