Friday, January 9, 2015

Encouragement of Climb: From a Promise to a Covenant

The second season of Encouragement of Climb has finally come to an end, and with it, the end of the YamaHanaBara trio of shows that I have compared to stages in a Christian's walk of faith. While I haven't been blogging this show as much as I would like, these final episodes have been a real joy nonetheless as Aoi and Hinata climb the same mountain they climbed as kids, to finally fulfill the promise they made back then to see the sunrise atop that mountain again. All the while, the two of them wonder... just what will happen when their promise is fulfilled? Would their relationship change once the promise between them was no longer there?

One thing's for sure; that is one gorgeous sunset.
There will be spoilers after the jump, as usual.

The trip up to the top of Mount Tanigawa, the mountain of Aoi's memories, was quite eventful. Aoi faces her fear of heights as she boards a ropeway, and she even makes a new friend in Honoka, who climbs mountains to take photographs. When Aoi voices to Honoka her concerns over what will happen with her relationship with Hinata once their promise is fulfilled, Honoka tells her that while she does seek out specific scenery that she wants to photograph, taking that photograph doesn't end anything. She simply finds more scenery to photograph, and as such, it continues on forever. Likewise, Aoi realizes that just because she fulfills one promise to Hinata, doesn't mean that promise has ended; there will simply be more promises to fulfill as it continues forever.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, and resurrected three days later, God fulfilled His promise to bring a savior to His people. However, that promise was not an end to His relationship with His people, but the start of a new beginning. Before Christ's death, the temple of God had a curtain that sectioned off the Most Holy Place, where God's presence was said to reside in the Ark of the Covenant. It was a place that people could not dare to hope to enter under normal circumstances; people's sinfulness had no place trying to approach God's perfection. (Only a priest who has performed all the proper sacrifices had even temporary rights to enter.) However, when Christ died, the sacrifice needed for people's sins was paid, and the curtain was torn in two--people could now approach God freely as long as they believed in Christ and his sacrifice.

As Hebrews 9 explains, Christ now serves as the mediator of a new covenant between God and His people. It's worth noting that a covenant is quite different from a contract; a contract is a set of agreements made by two people who generally do not have an interest in a personal relationship; there's a certain amount of distrust that would bring those two people to draft up agreements for the two to abide to. However, in a covenant, like a marriage covenant, there is a personal relationship involved, one where the two people trust each other and mutually agree to care for each other because they genuinely want to. In a way, a covenant is like an eternal promise, one that will not end when any one promise is fulfilled.

I have compared season 2 of Encouragement of Climb to the part of a Christian's walk after she has gotten past the early "baby steps" and is starting to pursue God with greater fervor. As she challenges higher mountains, she might fail sometimes, but she will also accomplish some great things for God. So when does a Christian complete this "apprentice" stage of her walk? Well... she never does finish this stage, at least not during her life on Earth. Just like how Aoi's promise continues on even after one promise is fulfilled, in a sort-of covenant with her friends, a Christian will simply continue on in her covenant with God. Some will be further along than others, and some might fall into the stage of "experienced but fallen" represented by Barakamon, only to eventually return to their covenant, where God waits as if they never left. On this Earth, there's no such thing as a "matured" Christian; we all still have ways to grow and a relationship that will continue throughout our lives.

In this way, as we say goodbye to Encouragement of Climb and the YamaHanaBara series, it's fitting that this is the last show of the trio to finish. Because while the show does represent the "middle" stage of a Christian's walk, it also represents the journey that all Christians are on, no matter how long or how "mature" they are. So here is a final toast to three of the best shows of last year, Hanayamata, Barakamon, and Yama no Susume Second Season, and I hope my coverage of those shows has inspired your own walk of faith as it has mine.

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