12 Days of Christmas: March Comes in Like a Lion

Day 9: Reason

During the holiday season,we are surrounded by thoughts of gifts, vacation, and Christmas cheer. As I’m writing now, we are much closer to the Christmas season and something I’ve been asking myself is, “Where did this year go?” I look back on my year and regret to see the time that passed. I put a lot of hope in myself this past year and now I’m looking to this season and new year to fill me with a different hope. I know a lot of posts you might read during this season might be telling you to look forward to Christmas and the joy it will bring, but I want to try to bring forward what we should be looking forward to as believers: Jesus Christ. My first run re-watching this episode of March Comes in Like a Lion didn’t invoke many ideas, but after some time of reflection, I hope I can bring another perspective of how we can view this wonderful season.

Yasui-san, Rei’s opponent in the episode, is currently undergoing a very depressing ordeal. This is his last year to spend with his daughter because of his upcoming divorce due to his alcoholism. Rei, has been informed of this before their shogi match and is conflicted.

During the match, he notices Yasui-san’s demeanor, which is as if he’s telling himself, “Don’t make a mistake. Don’t make a mistake.” Yasui-san eventually ends up making a mistake. Rei notices it first and then Yasui-san comes to the same realization as his figure starts to crumble and go limp. With this realization, Rei thinks:

“Wait a second. Why… You’re giving up that easily?

You can’t let go.. Don’t give up those precious things so easily.

Please. I’m begging you.

Don’t let go…”

I have recently felt that I let down and have been let down by others. It gave me some stress and led me to be a little depressed with the situation. As I reflected on the situation, I looked back at this past year and started to feel disappointed with myself for all of my missed opportunities, the things I could have done better. I put my hope in humanity, and while we’re not hopeless as people, our imperfect, sinful condition means that relying on others (or myself) will endlessly lead to me being let down.

I had put my hope in myself and in these people, was let down, and became upset and discouraged with the situation.

“Put no more trust in a mere human, who has only the breath in his nostrils. What is he really worth?”

Isaiah 2:22 (CSB)

At the moment Rei saw Yasui-san make his mistake, he started to put expectations on him. Rei didn’t want him to give up. He knew that Yasui-san had something to play for and it was for something precious in his life. If Yasui-san didn’t win, he might go out to drink and ruin the last chance he has to spend a meaningful Christmas with his daughter. Yasui-san must have put expectations on himself thinking that he would be able to win the match as long as he was careful. But Yasui-san loses the match. Once the game finishes, he leaves and after a short inner monologue, Rei runs after him to give him the present left behind that must have been for his daughter. After receiving a harsh reaction from Yasui-san, Rei runs as far as he can run and lets out an incredibly emotional outburst showing us more of who he is:

“Is everything my fault?”

“Then what should I have done instead?”

“It’s your own fault for being bad!”

“You lost because you’re bad.”

“Practice!”

“I can tell when you don’t!”

“If you say ‘I know, but I can’t,’ then just quit!”

“Don’t come!”

“For me, everything’s on the line.”

“Because I don’t have anything else.”

“All I have is shogi.”

“Don’t drink booze to escape.”

“If you’re going to run away… if you can run away. then why even…”

We can see that Rei is conflicted. He feels it may have been his fault, but he knows that he couldn’t do anything in the end. He knows that if Yasui-san had just done more to prepare, put in more sacrifice, and didn’t try to escape with alcohol, he could have been a better player. His hope in Yasui-san or his hope to have possibly lost the match for the better of his opponent (justifiable or not) was always on shaky ground. That same kind of hope we have in this end of the year Christmas season is also on that same ground. We can be blessed to find that this Christmas season to be joyful, but we can also find the season to be filled with grief.

“We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God… This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 5: 2 & 5 (CSB)

I pray that we can see where our true hope comes from. My pastor always hits our congregation every year with the saying, “Let’s remember the reason for the season.” We always laugh at it because, honestly, it’s kind of corny. However, as Christians, shouldn’t we really always remember the reason for the season? As the world continues to make the holidays revolve around gifts and vacations, we should remember the greatest gift that was given to us. Jesus was born in this time of year as a propitiation of our sins. He grew up fully human and fully God to die on the cross to save us from what we cannot save ourselves from. What an awesome gift that God gave us, that we can take a hold of this free just by acknowledging and receiving it.

I reflected upon this hope that I put onto myself and others just as Rei did, but being in the scripture and reading the Gospel message is showing me who I really need to put my hope in. We can fully look toward Christ and never be let down. He has already won the battle.

This year I challenge you to read your Bible, encourage a brother or sister, reach out to someone who has been on your mind, and to remember “the reason for the season”.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Luke 11:13 (CSB)

The hope that Jesus gives us when we are suffering or when we are joyful “will not disappoint us.”

You can watch episode 10 of March Comes in Like a Lion on Crunchyroll. Tomorrow, we return to Sword Art Online, but this time, with volume three of the Sword Art Online Progressive light novel.

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