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Monday, January 14, 2013

"Coming of Age Day" (Japan)

Japan observes the 成人の日 , “Coming of Age Day” or “Adult Day” this time each year for every person who turns the age of 20. This is the formal day responsible citizenship begins and is a much different celebration than “Boys Day” (when boys turn 15) and “Girls Day” (when girls turn 13).

I recall my first Boy’s Day celebration because this was a day I felt included. I had a Japanese friend I often visited and though I did not know his family well, they opened their home and introduced their culture to me. I wore so many various traditional clothes and we enjoyed our favorite TV shows together. Boy’s Day was the day I was made much of because I was a young man coming of age. This was also the day I learned how much I enjoy eating seaweed and confirmed my distaste for ants--no amount of chocolate covering is of any help, believe me.

Two thoughts come to mind this day, the first being that Jesus was born and grew in the eyes of men and God. He was a man of time and space who, like any other boy, was made much of by family, friends and community--and this long before He began His ministry. He was a part of society and was expected to be responsible.

The second thought is more complex. What does it mean to become an adult? How long does it take to learn from mistakes? How does one know he or she is “doing it right?” Wheaton Professor Leland Ryken discusses what may be the only classic literary work known (to me, at least--outside of scripture) that thoroughly examines these and other questions about entering the adult world. The Old Testament book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings and most are “father to son” words of advice. There is a way to figure it all out, by listening to those who have walked with God before us.

The Bible plainly states the destiny of each person is to die once, then appear before God in judgement (Hebrews 9:27). The subject will not be how one shined his shoes, kept her hair, or contributed to culture per se. Our Creator sees and knows everything about us: our thoughts, or actions, our heart--everything committed in public and in secret. Everything we’ve forgotten and all we remember will suddenly make sense in the light of His righteousness, regardless of cultural norms.

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