Good Morning, everyone! Happy New Day, Week & special "Thanks" for attending today's service. Welcome to our monthly service for February 2019. I hope you are all in good health & excellent spirits.
As I said in my sermon for our New Year's Day Ceremony, 2019 is a very commemorative year.
Here in Chicago we will have the 10th Anniversary Ceremony on Nov. 3. Konkokyo will celebrate the 160th Anniversary of the Divine Call from October to November, which is especially meaningful on Nov. 15 for us, because we believers from North America will enjoy a pilgrimage to Hombu. That is the exact day when our Founder received the Divine Call 160 years ago. Additionally, KC Airaku will celebrate the 25th Memorial Anniversary of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo on Nov. 29.
I now have a great enthusiasm to practice faith to develop peace & joy in my heart toward an unbreakable one throughout this year. I prostrate myself before Kami & pray to Tenchi Kane No Kami through not only the divine virtue & mediation of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo, but of our Founder's divine virtue & mediation as the following: "Like Rev. Otsubo & our Founder, who always respected each & everything which happened as Kami's sacred working. Being thankful, brightly & with a divine grace, no matter what happens in each second of daily life. I seek to be like this, to please be developed so the peace & joy in my heart is unbreakable ALWAYS.
With that attitude of heart, please help me to become of great service, to open this precious way of the Konko faith to find true world peace & human happiness."
I have really hoped each of you join me in Kami's wish for KC Chicago to be fulfilled.
After our New Year's Day Ceremony, I asked each attendee to randomly pick a teaching of our Founder or one from the teachings of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. I prayed asking Kami to give each of us the teaching that Kami most wanted us to think about & put into practice for this year. When I found the teaching each person picked, I was amazed with the fact that each person picked the most suitable one for him or her.
The teaching I picked up was "True faith is to receive the greatest blessing of ease."
After WWII, Rev. Soichiro Otsubo realized he had practiced faith in the wrong way and had an earnest desire to practice faith in all seriousness & have true faith. He had sought Kami's wish with all his heart since then. His way of pursuing genuine faith would be described as follows: "Seeking earnestly for the heart of the universe, if there is a way, direct it to my heart, Spirit of the Great Universe!"
The more he practiced faith in this way, the more he could communicate with Kami. Kami led him to deepen his faith to reveal the essence of our Founder's faith. He talked about our founder's faith everywhere whenever he was asked. One day he was asked to lead the faith meeting at the Koga's. He talked about our faith throughout that night. The next morning, Mrs. Koga showed him a folding fan, saying that this was the treasure of the Koga's. Inside it there were small Japanese characters that were written by the third successor of our Founder, Sandai-Konkosama. It was written as "True faith, 真の信心in Japanese."
Holding that fan, Rev. Otsubo prayed to Kami, asking what was true faith. Then he received the following revelation through the voice of Sandai-Konkosama, "True faith is to receive the greatest blessing of ease."
I made 80 pieces of paper which included one teaching in each paper for each one of us to pick for this year. Each teaching was different. This time I folded each paper, especially distinguishing the meaning of each teaching. The teaching that impressed me the most at that time was as follows: "I am a happy man, simple and innocent. I am a man that can't but put trust in the benevolence of the universe."
That teaching shows the most important attitude in order to completely respect each & every happening as Kami's sacred doing with gratitude, whatever happens and no matter how difficult it might be.
When I accomplish my faith practice in this way, my heart will never be broken, I will receive the greatest blessing of ease and deepen toward my unbreakable peaceful & joyful heart, no matter what happens in my life. With peace & joy in my heart, I will definitely be able to open this true way of Konko. This year, I hope Kami's wish for the Divine Call will be revealed to the world.