Annual Autumn Memorial Service
September 20, 2009

Good afternoon, welcome. Thank you all very much for joining this annual Autumn Memorial Service. Today we are celebrating for the first under our new status as the Konko Church of Chicago.

Memorials are a time for remembrance. This memorial service is a time to remember our ancestors, of course. But more, it is the perfect time to widen our perspective to honor all those who have gone before us. To pay our respects to those whose contributions have made this great land what it is today. We acknowledge their efforts and honor their sacrifice. They have made life so meaningful for us today. So let us show them our appreciation.

As we acknowledge our forbears, let us ask them to draw close to our living families. May they join our peaceful and joyful hearts with theirs to receive blessings that will enrich in the future.

Although our ancestors are invisible, they are the roots of our inheritance. When tree roots spread invisibly underneath the ground the trunk gets bigger and the branches grow and leaf out. Konko Daijin once told a disciple, "Place fertilizer at the roots of a tree, then its branches will grow lush. Respect your ancestors and parents, then you will prosper."

Therefore it is very important to respect and honor our ancestors with this Memorial Service.

Today we honor especially the Mitama spirits of forbears and departed souls close to those of this Church. As each name read, please welcome the memory of that person silently into your heart:

I believe our dear ones departed do hear our invitation & that they are here with us. I know they must be pleased to see all of you here today.

Every day during the morning and evening prayers I extend appreciation to the Mitama spirits of: Mr. & Mrs. Hyojiro Takeuchi, Mr. Michinori Takeuchi, Mr. Robert Zabroskey, Mr. & Mrs. Nishimura, Mr. Ogawa, Mr. Kusumoto, Mr. and Mrs. Kubo and Mr. James Amano, as the foundation of this church. Today join me in praying for their eternal happiness.

Beginning September 1, I have offered special prayers after the regular service each evening and study the teachings of my spiritual mentor the late Rev. Soichiro Otsubo. As I pray to the Mitama spirits related to this church I encourage them to continue to develop their peaceful, joyful hearts in the next world. I have prayed to have this memorial service filled with peace and joy in our hearts and in those of our beloved Mitama spirits. I have then asked all our departed souls to share with us their joy and happiness during the Dedication Ceremony of the new Konko Church of Chicago that will be held on Sunday, November 1.

It is significant that it is traditional in Japan we remember those who have gone before us in the fall. Because here in America, the month when our seasons turn from summer to autumn can no longer arrive without reliving dark events of 911. Eight years have passed since the terrible tragedy happened in New York. When I prayed for the victims of that day this year Kami-sama let me realize that 911 was not that one single day eight years ago. We also are facing a loss of precious life every day. There are suicide bombings almost every day. There are murderers and fatal traffic accidents. To those who lose their lives this way, are just as dead, as that shocking number who were lost on 911. Every instinct to solve the world's problems by power, will somehow cause 911 type misery.

911 showed that human history ‘power vs. power' never changes. That awful time taught me that we have to stop this irrational cycle of human history. We have to create the new era of good will by uniting the peaceful and joyful hearts of all people. When I realize that in many way we are face some kind of 911 every day, I have renewed determination to develop peace and joy in my heart.

Peace & Joy happens when we believe that everything that happens is Kami's doing. Like our founder we must try to develop peace and joy in our hearts through each and every happening. It is quite out of the question for us to achieve it through anger, blaming others or complaining to excess. It is a measure of how deeply we have developed our heart by accepting how quickly we get angry, blame others or by realizing how frequently we complain.

I don't find this easy! My heart has still not reached the stage of the unbreakability. However I do sense I am moving steadily toward that goal.

As you know, this year the Konko Faith celebrates the 150th Anniversary of its unique beginning. We plan to commemorate this great event by holding a dedication of our new Konko Church of Chicago in less than two months. I really feel our efforts have thus far been blessed. Whenever I pray in front of the Mitama altar I feel these blessings have not come through my faith at all. I believe they come through the virtue of all the Mitama spirits supporting us.

Every day I pray, "May my heart be deepened into a more peaceful and joyful heart. May I accept each and everything that happens as faith training with all my heart!"

I am overwhelmed by the fact that Konko Daijin brought this way of the peaceful and joyful heart in the first place. It is significant that it has been passed down unbroken from Konko Daijin to our fifth Konko Sama of today.

Konko Daijin said, "Whether you are alive or dead, Heaven and Earth will always be your home." What he called "Heaven and Earth," today we would refer to as, "the universe." So the whole wide universe is our one and only home.

During our life we live within time and space in a union of borrowed molecules energized by a fragment of divine spirit. After death we continue to be spiritually alive in the divine presence of the Universe.

Being part of this kind of Memorial Service today, we can help the Mitama spirits of those who have gone before accumulate divine virtue and more perfectly become one with Kami.

Therefore, let us reverently honor the Mitama spirits. As they are now, we someday shall be. In the mean time, may we live so as to have spirits worthy to become one with Kami. Let us begin by caring for all those who live with us between heaven and earth.

Let us work with the spirits past, present and future, beginning now, to create a new era. An era in which the divine will of the Tenchi Kane No Kami will be fulfilled! An era in which peace and joy will shine forth from the hearts of all people in this world, united with all the Mitama spirits of those who've gone from this world to the next. Thank you!

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