Thank you very much for attending the second monthly service in November. I hope you are all in good health and in excellent spirits.
Three weeks ago we had a wonderful and memorable time that will, I'm sure, last forever in our memories. Our Dedication Ceremony of the new Konko Church of Chicago was filled with the awesome workings of Kami. Kami arranged everything beyond all measure. First of all; we rented what I believe was the best possible place in Chicago for the celebration.
It was the ball room on the 12th floor of the Doubletree Hotel in Skokie. The New Chicago Japanese American Association (NCJAA) had used the ball room of another hotel for their New Year's Celebration. I thought we could use it for our dedication ceremony. But after several problems in using that location this year, Mrs. Akiko Sugano, the current president of NCJAA, wanted to find another place for the next celebration. She chose the ball room of the Doubletree Hotel. When I first saw it, I felt it was the best location in Chicago for our dedication and that it was surely Kami's arrangement for the dedication ceremony of our new Konko Church of Chicago.
Kami also brought Rev. Ryoichi Iwai from Brazil and Rev. Hironobu Nakahara from Seattle a few days early who helped us prepare for this celebration. Their assistance was beyond my anticipation. Without their help we could not have accomplished nearly as much for our celebration. They helped make it go smoothly as we welcomed many other guests arriving early from other distant places as well.
Twenty guests arrived from Kurume, Japan. Rev. Keiki Otsubo, assistant head-Minster of my home church of Airaku, led them. In the next day they were followed by more than thirty other guests from throughout the USA and Canada.
Rev. Iwai, Mr. Michael Knuppel and our oldest son Mitsunori Takeuchi, took charge of shuttling the guests from Japan to see the sights of Chicago. Mike, who lives in Pekin, Illinois & Mitsunori, who had just bought a new car, took several days off work to insure our guests enjoyed a good time & their generosity with their time was a wonderful blessing.
Rev. Nakahara and I took care of transporting our guests from the USA & Canada. Rev. Nakahara went to the O'Hare airport six times to pick them up one day before our dedication ceremony.
When the guests from Japan arrived at the worship room of the church, Rev. Keiki came to the mediation place to seek the mediation. Then I was moved to tears without notice. Rev. Keiki also wiped his tears.
It had rained a lot this year in October. It felt as though it rained almost every day. When I drove to the hotel on Nov. 1st, the day of our celebration, the sky was clear blue. I shouted and shouted to myself in the car for joy, "Kami-sama, thank you very much."
In all, 120 people gathered to celebrate this service with a fine view of the skyscrapers downtown Chicago for a backdrop.
My sister, Mrs. Emiko Otsubo played a koto processional accompanied by Mr. Jamal Leki-Albano on a traditional Japanese crossbar flute & the officiants solemnly stepped toward the altar. The service had begun. The feeling was awesome.
Everything went smoothly. Miss Stephanie Laite performed the Sacred Dance beautifully with a koto played by Rev. Toshiko Kishii, both from Toronto.
Rev. Mitsuaki Otsubo, the Konko Church of Airaku delivered his sermon in Japanese and Mr. Takanobu Yasutake interpreted it into English. He said that the Way of Heaven and Earth seemed to be collapsing more and more nowadays. Then he explained how to open that Way of Faith. It is, he said, to respect everything that happens as Kami`s doing and deepen our heart.
The service was so solemn and beautiful that it touched the hearts of each one in attendance.
The reception after the service was extraordinary as well. There were a dedicatory dance, koto music, choral singing and taiko drumming. Our two sons, Mitsunori and Daichi played taiko drums with all their hearts to express their appreciation to Kami. Finally Rev. Mitsuaki and his wife, Emiko sang a song, titled, `A song of Wagakokoro, peaceful and joyful heart` with her hand sign. From the comments which followed afterwards, everyone's heart had been deeply touched.
To me, the service and reception were so overwhelming I felt as though I had dreamed them. It's not an exaggeration to say that Kami`s glory powerfully appeared in our celebration. In it I could feel the awesome power of the Divine Reminder.
I have sought to manifest the Divine Reminder in my daily life since coming to Chicago. But I often find myself failing to do so. In spite of that, Kami`s glory appeared from that service beyond my measure of progress as if I had truly succeeded to do so.
From now on I will do my best to develop my grateful and caring heart, filling it with joy and harmony overflowing. May my heart genuinely become unbreakable. This is the essence of the Divine Reminder I believe in. It is the Way through which I wish my efforts to manifest the Way of Kami and humanity in Chicago. May it serve to bring about a world where Kami and people will mutually uphold each other. Thank you!
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