Daily Devotion for August 18, 2020

我儘  Wagamama!   Part 1

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

If you have traveled in the UK, you may have come across a restaurant chain serving ramen noodles called “Wagamama.” I was very surprised when I first heard the name of this chain. Even though the word is fun to say, its meaning is not. In Japanese wagamama means “selfish, ego-centric, or autocratic.” Wagamama’s marketing team says the word means indulgent. It does seem that wagamama is everywhere- and I am not talking about ramen. The writer of 2 Timothy was prophetic indeed. This writer defines a wagamama world.

A primary reason that I became a United Methodist is because we are a connectional church. This resonates with my understanding of Christian teaching. You can’t be connectional and be wagamama. When I was sixteen, I traveled to Japan to live for a year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. This is where I first learned the word wagamama. I also learned about the Asian sensibility regarding community and putting the interests of the group before self. Of course, Japanese is a far more homogenous culture than the USA and certainly not a Christian country, but I found something beautiful in the consideration of others and the group as a whole that I experienced in Japan. I am well-aware that Japan as a nation has been an aggressor in the world. This can be said of many nations, including our own (forgive us our trespasses- individually and collectively). However, there is something Godly in groupism and in our United Methodist counterpart, Connectionalism.

Groupism without love or consideration of an individual is dangerous, and inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus, but yet, when combined with love, I believe it is the answer to the prayer:  “Thy kin-dom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

A world where we acknowledge that we are connected to one another, knowing our actions affect others, love one another, taking the needs of each other into account and striving for the common good is my best understanding of God’s vision for us-- God’s kin-dom-“on earth as in heaven.”

Whether you say the Lord’s prayer in community or alone, imagine God’s vision for the Kin-dom as one where we are all connected in love and free of wagamama.

As part of your reflection today, please pray the Lord’s Prayer in the language you prefer. I invite you to include your wagamama in that for which you seek forgiveness.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.