On Sunday, we celebrated the life of Opukahaia, the young Hawaiian man whose family members were killed in the brutal warfare in these islands during the 1790’s. He sailed to New England where he was educated and converted to Christianity and was called Henry Obookiah. He planned to return to Hawaii and share his faith with his people. Unfortunately, Opukahaia died on February 17, 1818, before he had the chance to return to his beloved islands. However, his life and his writings motivated the first company of missionaries to sail to Hawaii the very next year, arriving on March 30, 1820, after more than five months at sea.
As I reflected on Opukahaia and his life in my message on Sunday, I found it inspiring how he forgave the people who killed his parents, his young brother, his aunt and many other relatives and neighbors. His journey as a Christian led him to let go of his anger and love the people who had once been his enemies. Letting go of anger, forgiving our enemies and loving people who have hurt is difficult to do. Yet, as I reflected on our Gospel reading from Matthew, chapter 5, I became convinced that it must be possible. As I read more of Matthew, it occurred to me that seeing people through God’s eyes turns that possibility into reality. God cares about everyone; God loves everyone; and in God’s eyes everyone matters. I don’t know of any other way to let go of anger or to love.
As a complete surprise, the author Christopher Cook, who wrote the book The Providential Life and Heritage of Obookiah: Why Did the Missionaries Come to Hawaii from New England and Tahiti?, showed up at the parsonage for our gallery party on Sunday afternoon! I know of Chris and his book. What I did not know is that the late Evelyn Cook, who wrote the book 100 Years of Healing: The Legacy of a Kauai Missionary Doctor, was his wife. This book is about Rev. Dr. James Smith (who moved to Kōloa in 1842 and lived on the land where the parsonage now is) and his family (including grandson Dr. A.H. Waterhouse, after whom our sanctuary is named).
In church, we collected an offering for the Henry Opukahaia Scholarship Fund, which the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ has set up to assist seminarians from Hawaii and active ministers who are pursuing post-seminary studies. If you missed the opportunity, you may give to the fund this coming Sunday.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Kahu Alan Akana
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of a recent message by Kahu Akana, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.
To learn more about Kahu Akana (and the rest of the staff at Koloa Union Church), click HERE.