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A Carpenter in the Reign of God

Osamu Takeuchi

Sotoji Nakamura was a famous master of Sukiya-zukuri, a special style of construction for tea ceremony. He was born in 1906 and started training as a carpenter at the age of 15 and died at 90. He said, “A carpenter is a person who embodies the vision of an architect with the heart of a builder.” This description reverberates through my heart. I realize that a Christian embodies the vision of God with the heart of Christ.

A Christian is like a carpenter in the Reign of God. “God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Gen 1:27).” God still works not only in us but in all existence. “My father is at work until now, so I am at work” (Jn 5:17). Jesus still invites us to join his work today. We may be able to see the vision of God in this work. That is why we can live and exist in this way. “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you made; for you would not fashion what you hate” (Wis 11:24). Each one of us is a precious piece which God has made with his whole heart. At the same time, God entrusts a task to each one of us.

Mr. Nakamura was a realist through and through. So he says, “The sound of a capable carpenter gives comfort.” Which kind of sound reverberates in our life? If we can reverberate to a stimulating sound in our daily life, we should be happy.

“A good carpenter is one who can evaluate trees,” says Mr. Nakamura. He also says, “It is important for us to see our materials and ascertain where and how to use them. In fact, he walked all over Japan just to find good materials. What materials do we need to live — what talents? The people we meet? The environment that surrounds us? At any rate, all are gifts from God; we must work with all as carpenters in the Reign of God.

The words of a person devoted to one goal are simple and clear. Mr. Nakamura says, “There is no other way but to master your own body.” These words are corroborated by experience. Skills gained through the body become wisdom and a way of life. We can say the same thing both of our prayer and of our faith. It is important for us to feel much more, to react, and to master with our body – mere knowledge is useless – like a person who thinks he is a carpenter just because he has the tools.

Jesus was a carpenter (cf. Mk 6:3).