When LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison was installed to his second term in September, Japan Lutheran Church President Rev. Yutaka Kumei presented Harrison with a biblical print from artist Sadao Watanabe.
The painting depicts the Baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending on Him.
“We are deeply humbled by this extraordinary gift,” Harrison said. “It will be displayed as a testament to our common Baptism in Christ.”
Watanabe, who died in 1996, is famous for his biblical prints, which are in the folk-art tradition of Japan.
Kumei said the Japan Lutheran Church purchased the 1968 print and several others from Watanabe’s widow before she died in 2010 so the church body could offer them as special gifts to other groups or individuals.
“When I thought about a present for the invitation to President Harrison’s installation, I wanted something memorable so I chose the Sadao Watanabe’s print ‘Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus Christ,’” Kumei said via email. “I presented [it] to him with hope for great leadership through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, not by thoughts or expectations of humans.”
Kumei said when he gave the print to Harrison, and a photographer took their picture, “I felt as if the Holy Spirit were sitting upon us as the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus. It was really good that I was able to present it to him. I hope The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Japan Lutheran Church as partner churches can continue working together in sharing the Gospel of God.”
Kumei was one of several leaders of international Lutheran partner churches who attended the Service of Installation, held Sept. 14 at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
Harrison said the painting will be hung in a place of prominence at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.